Randy Bachman of Bachman-Tuner Overdrive struck gold in the same way the ol’ 49ers did in the gold fields…a lot of time and hard work in preparation, and then recognizing the Mother Lode when he hit it.
This month’s issue of Guitar Player magazine ran an interview with Bachman about his
upcoming new album, Heavy Blues. This sounds like a great power trio album, by the way, but the interviewer asked Bachman about writing one of the most popular rock songs of all time, ‘Takin’ Care of Business’. This rock classic that demands you thump on the steering wheel as you cruise along with the stereo cranked has an origins story that totally fits. It turns out that Bachman made the song up while on the stage performing it!
Okay. Not quite.
Bachman had a song he called ‘White Collar Worker’. He pitched it to Guess Who when he was in that band. They didn’t like it. He pitched it to BTO. They didn’t like it. One day on the way to a gig, he heard a local DJ on the radio saying that the radio station was “taking care of business”. He thought, “That would be a pretty cool line”
Later on at the gig, BTO was ready to play one last song, but the lead singer had lost his voice and handed it off to Randy. Randy took his ‘White Collar Worker’, replaced “white collar worker” with “takin’ care of business”, and told the band “Follow me!” He told Guitar Player magazine “I took out seven of the ten chords, turned it into a three chord song…and made the song up on stage.”
They recorded it two weeks later. Bachman told GP, “I used my Gretsch 6120, and when I’m playing up high…you can hear the guitar going in and out of tune. Those 6120s did not have a fixed bridge and if you banged the bridge with your hand, it went out of tune. the bridge actually moved. I said, “What the heck. This sounds very Keith Richard-y, very Howlin’ Wolf-y. I’ll leave it the way it is. This song will never be a single.”
Find out more about the genesis of ‘Takin’ Care of Business’, and Randy Bachman’s great new album, in the current issue of Guitar Player magazine.