Randy Bachman - Randy Bachman - Heavy Blues - Interview by Bruce Alexander
Bruce Alexander: Tell me about your new album, “Heavy Blues.”
Randy Bachman: Out of the blue, I got offered a new record deal from Geoff Kulawick from True North Records, a long established record label out of Toronto. That’s rare these days, because there are hardly any of those labels left. When I got the deal, he urged me to try something new and different; several other musical vets I talked to about it agreed. “Reinvent yourself,” they said. “Don’t do the same old shit.” So I wind up with two great female players, and it’s not just a gimmick. They attack the lead, bass, vocals and percussion with the passion and precision of Pete Townsend, Jack Bruce and Keith Moon. So the album was done in five days.
BA: Talk about your hero Hank Marvin of the Shadows, and how you got to work with him late in your career.
RB: He was the biggest influence of my life. I began my career on violin, which is essentially a lead instrument. That gave me the ability to play lead guitar on the Shadows song “FBI”, which got me the lead guitarist gig in the Guess Who. In fact, I knew the Shadows songs so well, if Hank broke his arm, I could have gone up and played the whole show. I got Hank Marvin’s amp, I bought a big wood plaque off the internet that contains the Shadows’ fifty greatest hits, all signed - I have a Hank Marvin shrine in my home. When a Shadows tribute album was made, they asked me to contribute the last song. Together, Neil Young and I decided to play Bruce Welsh’s song, “Spring is Nearly Here,” which we had first heard on the radio back in 1966. Since we couldn’t locate a copy of the song, we recreated the lead and rhythm parts from memory, then manufactured an intro. Then one day after we recorded it, I came home to hear a Shadows fan playing the actual song on my answering machine; it was identical to what we had recorded.
BA: How did you wind up with your radio show, “Randy’s Vinyl Tap”, which also became a book?
RB: I got the radio show as an accident. I was a summer replacement for Canadian DJ Danny Finkleman’s radio show, “Finklemans’ 45’s”. Since I played records for fun, I didn’t consider it a job, but it became much more: Obscure songs with themes that ranged from motorcycles to beach tunes, plus wild renegade news with opinion and humor. By the end of the summer, I was told that I had led the prime time ratings on CBC radio, and was offered a permanent slot. After forty years, I had a real job. My father would have been proud. It might go on Sirius satellite as well. Later, we transcribed the stories from my radio show into book form. Otherwise, you can’t download those stories; you can only listen to them. We had a book deal for over 30,000 books.
BA: How did the Guess Who form, and how did you get the idea for the name?
RB: We played Johnny Kidd and the Pirates song, ”Shakin’ All Over.” We sent it to the record label. We couldn’t use the name “Reflections” because a band from Baltimore that had the name already had a hit called “Romeo and Juliet.” We needed a name so the record label gave it to us. We had no say in it.
BA: Any closing remarks?
RB: “Heavy Blues” is the greatest (and worst) thing I’ve ever done. Also, we have a gig this Saturday night with a phenomenal girl band from Regina, Saskatchewan at the New York Ethical Cultural Center at West 64th Street and Central Park West.
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