Randy Bachman (Bachman-Turner Overdrive) Says You Can’t Do Better than Led Zeppelin
When Randy Bachman wrote the line “Here’s somethin’ that you’re never gonna forget” in Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s No. 1 single “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet,” he wasn’t talking about a memorable rock concert. But there was a concert 45 years ago that, b-b-b baby, he will never, ever forget.
It was Aug. 29, 1970, and Led Zeppelin was scheduled to headline the 11-hour Man-Pop music festival in a Winnipeg stadium.
“It was supposed to be an outdoor concert at Winnipeg football stadium, but it got rained out,” recalls Bachman, a Winnipeg native whose new album, Heavy Blues, was released last month. “Half their gear was lost on airlines, and they decided they couldn’t play.
“All the Winnipeg bands got together with the radio stations, headed to the Winnipeg Arena and put up a small two-foot-high stage. The band brought their gear and PA systems. After much prompting and a challenge to rock no matter what, we all sat on the floor and watched in amazement while Led Zeppelin played a set using mostly borrowed gear—and they sounded and played amazing!”
The borrowed gear included a Les Paul guitar Bachman loaned to Led Zep guitarist Jimmy Page. It was the same guitar Bachman used when he recorded the huge Guess Who hit “American Woman.”
Bachman says the Winnipeg show was the best and the most influential concert he ever witnessed.
It “proved that the show must go on no matter what and, when you’re good musos, you sound great on any instrument. That day, Led Zeppelin won the hearts and souls of everyone there. I was in the front row, and Page played my ’59 Les Paul.”
Bachman says he has had to play many times with another band’s gear — “in the rain and wind, with a dislocated hip and displaced lower back vertebrae, laryngitis, broken thumb, torn rotator cuffs, fever, et cetera.
“The show goes on no matter what. Your adrenaline keeps you going. After the show, you crash, but, while on stage, magic happens when you close your eyes, push away the problems and play your heart out.”
Bachman’s new album rocks hard and has many guest stars: good friend Neil Young, who has cited Bachman as a big influence; Peter Frampton; Joe Bonamassa; Robert Randolph; Jeff Healey; Rival Sons guitarist Scott Holliday, and Canadian singer-songwriter-guitarist Luke Doucet.
“It is my tribute to the third wave of music that shook the world and my world,” Bachman explains. “First there was Elvis, followed by The Beatles, and then the UK Brit power blues trios. I wanted that raw live power of Hendrix, Cream, Led Zeppelin and The Who. It was so exciting just jamming out these riffy songs off the floor and getting 12 done in five days. It’s quite old-fashioned in motif and sound and very home cooked.”