As Randy Bachman, one of Canada's foremost architects of pop music prepares to cross the formidable and daunting ice covered tundras of the great white north in support of his latest tour: Every Song Tells A Story, the composer answers 5 Questions for DJ.
Canada's national public broadcaster CBC Radio One hit the jackpot when it enlisted master songwriter,composer, performer, broadcaster, genius guitarist and now bestselling author Randy Bachman to its distinguished stable of announcers and disc jockeys for the popular radio program Vinyl Tap..
The tired cliche that likens many pop music composers and performers as shifty drug addled dreamers and schemers out to hustle a buck is lost when we examine the case of RB who as a five-year-old musical prodigy studied violin at The Royal Toronto Conservatory.
By the age of 12 RB had discovered that while the practice of writing musical notation was difficult for him he had what he jokingly referred to as a "phonographic memory" which is the ability to replicate any music that he heard on his newly favored instrument : the guitar.
At age 16 he was personally taught the complex and unique finger picking style from Canadian jazz great Lenny Breau with whom he studied for two years.
In 1959 when Bachman was unable to see Les Paul because of age restrictions at a chi-chi Winnpeg supper club RB always the entrepreneur offered his services as a "roadie " to the jazz wunderkind, creator and namesake for the Gibson Les Paul electric guitar in return for a lesson on how to play " How High the Moon"
Bachman founded the core of The Guess Who who eventually would become Canada's answer to the Beatles during the 60's in 1960 with Chad Allen who was later replaced by lyricist, composer and vocalist Burton Cummings.
Between 1968-70 they released three monster albums Wheatfield Soul, Canned Wheat, and American Woman classical pop music records which continue to stand along with the best work of the Stones, Beatles , and Beach Boys today.
Like many pop groups of the day the GW were subjected to harsh, brutal unrelenting tours that never seemed to end.
RB therefore ended his tenure with the GW citing lifestyle differences and health problems and retired for a short time to regroup before returning with hard rock metal pioneers The Bachman- Turner Overdrive. or who are known by millions of fans as BTO.
The net result is that RB has sold over 40 million records around the world.
That factor alone is why the Vinyl Tap is an interesting and derivative example of mainstream broadcasting. The program is kind of like what it would feel like if your friend who happens to be a world famous globe trotting guitarist comes into your home and tells you about his adventures in the star making machinery that is the business of show.
Bachman's delivery is measured and ego less and we often hear him strumming as he speaks as he would to his researcher and son Tal Bachman a respected journeyman songwriter and hit maker who scored a huge hit for Sony in the 21 century with She's So High which garnered him a Juno award for best producer of that year.
So instead of a broadcaster talking at the listener RB's approach is to let the listener in on the conversation and even better he opens the forum up to the listeners by reading letters and questions and having the listeners suggest themes for the program which effectively breaks down Bertolt Brecht's mythological " fourth wall".
The result is an entertaining and vivacious radio cocktail which informs , delights and educates the listener while simultaneously entertaining the audience with great popular music and revealing anecdotes about the quirky personalities who struggle to make a mark upon the human zeitgeist that is the hit parade.
DJ caught up with Randy Bachman while in rehearsal for his upcoming tour for Every Song Tells a Story which kicks off in New Zealand later this month and begins its Canadian leg at the end of February through March 2013- so be there or be square daddio!
Congratulations on the success of yourbook . Was writing the book difficult for you?
The book is basically of stories I told on my radio show. They were compiled and edited by John Einarson who I feel did a great job.
What is your favorite guitar and why?Gibson Les Paul Burst RI it feels,sounds, and looks great. It is a copy of my American Woman guitar but reproduced by Gibson to be half the weight. The original is in the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland
Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians and songwriters?
Honor your gift and practice your artistry
What inspired you to release your latest single with Beverly Mahood Taking Care of Christmas?
It was an opportunity to give back by using the song to feed the children and get gifts for them as well.
Who are your top five songwriters and why?
Lennon/McCartney, Jagger/Richards, Brian Wilson, Henley/ Frey
Their songs are memorable, fun, intelligent and anthems.
Here is a link for past broadcasts of Vinyl Tap it can also be heard on CBC Radio One and Sirius FM.