Saturday, December 30, 2023

In Memoriam: Paul Janovitz


As my co-blogger and friend Jordan noted:

SMM returns at least briefly for remembrances of music people who passed on in 2023. Sadly, there are many that meant much to me - considering that my age is such that the time is nigh. Musical heroes of the late 60s and 70s are a disappearing breed.

SMM had an amazing run for almost 20 years, amassing close to 3.5 millions visits as of this writing. Amazingly, the blog still draws regular hits (22K this month) despite its being more or less off-air for the past year. Kudos to Jordan for suggesting that we come back for an In Memoriam round to end 2023. The thought was on my mind as well:  It's hard to put such an important part of your life to sleep forever, but the number of willing bloggers and the output had dwindled too far to keep going on the blog's original premise: winding down from weekly to bi-weekly themes.

Among the choices of music people who passed in 2023, and the first I am going to go with is someone not many of you have likely heard of, but who, by association, is dear to my heart. For many years (including in my other [inactive] blog) I have written about Bill Janovitz (of Buffalo Tom fame). It is with saddened heart that I learned as I looked at a list of musicians that passed in 2023 that Bill's younger brother Paul was among those who passed away this year at the young age of 54. I have listened to music that Bill Janovitz and Buffalo Billand Crown Victoria put out for at least the past 10 years, but I wasn't aware of Paul's group Cold Water Flat until now. That said, his life story resonates close to home. My combined interest in music and photography (Paul's other art interest) makes me feel closer to the family in a parallel manner.

An obit of sorts for Paul mentions that he was a multi-instrumentalist: primarily guitar and vocals, and that - after the Cold Water Flat band he formed disbanded, he went on in a more acoustic style, playing clubs in the Boston area. It was at about this time that he started putting more effort and energy into photography, some of it of notable. What that obit doesn't mention is that Paul's brother Bill isn't the only other musician in the family: brother Scott plays with The Russians and Tom plays with Sodafrog. 

Thursday, December 28, 2023

In Memoriam—Tim & Robbie Bachman

[purchase Bachman-Turner Overdrive II]

Hey, Star Maker Machine fans, we’re temporarily back.  At least as long as some of our writers feel like keeping our year-end “In Memoriam” tradition alive.  Every year, the music world loses contributors, some really famous, others obscure, and many in between.  When I looked at the list(s) of potential subjects available on the Internet, the fact that two Bachman brothers died in 2023 jumped out at me.  So, while they are far from my favorite musicians who passed this year, I thought it would be worth investigating their lives.

Tim Bachman was born in 1951 and Robin “Robbie” Bachman was born in 1953 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the younger brothers of Randy, who was born in 1943 (brother Gary, born in 1945, briefly was BTO’s manager before moving into real estate; he died in 2020).  Randy achieved fame and success as a member of The Guess Who, but at the height of that band’s popularity, Randy quit in 1970.  His departure was due to a combination of his conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the conflict his beliefs had with the more standard rock ‘n’ roll lifestyles of his bandmates, a desire to spend time with his family, and gall bladder issues.

Randy eventually formed a country-rock band with Chad Allen, who was the original vocalist for The Guess Who, called Brave Belt, with 18-year-old Robbie on drums.  Fred Turner joined Brave Belt on bass and vocals, and Allen departed, as their sound moved from soft to hard rock.  Tim Bachman was recruited as a second guitarist, and the band was renamed “Bachman-Turner Overdrive.”  Their eponymous debut album was a success due to their relentless touring schedule, despite lacking a hit single.  But Bachman-Turner Overdrive II spawned two massive hits, “Let It Ride,” and “Takin’ Care of Business,” an enduring rock classic. 

But all was not fraternal among the Bachman brothers.  Randy’s religious beliefs mandated that all BTO members abstain from drugs, alcohol and premarital sex on tour, and it appears that brother Tim was a serial offender, and he left the band in early 1974, replaced by Blair Thornton.  This was far from the last time that the three brothers would be at odds over the ensuing decades.  The next album, Not Fragile (a commentary on the Yes album), without Tim, was another success, featuring “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet,” and “Roll on Down the Highway.”

After releasing a few albums that were fairly successful, Randy Bachman left the band in 1977, due to a series of creative and other disagreements with his bandmates, including Robbie.  The remaining members added bassist/vocalist Jim Clench, and toured as “BTO,” since Randy retained the rights to his last name, before disbanding in 1980.

Randy decided to reform the band in 1983, with Tim on second guitar, but not Robbie, who objected to certain licensing arrangements, and because he wanted Thornton to be included, rather than his brother Tim.  There was, inevitably, litigation.  Randy left the band again in 1987, and a version of BTO, led by Tim as the only Bachman, toured for a few years, before Randy returned to the fold with Robbie on drums, but no Tim.  In 1991, Randy was out again, replaced in the band by a different Randy (Murray), and this incarnation toured until 2004, making it the most enduring lineup.

The conflict between Randy and Robbie prevented the band from being inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2003, because Robbie insisted that his big brother be excluded, but eventually, in 2014, the induction happened, with both brothers (but not Tim) included. 

In 2009, Randy and Turner reunited as “Bachman & Turner” after Robbie and Thornton sued to prevent them from using either the BTO or Bachman-Turner Overdrive names. 

Tim was accused of a number of sexual offenses in the 2010s, but was either found not guilty, or had the charges stayed.

Robbie died on January 12, 2023, aged 69; Tim followed him on April 28, 2023, at the age of 71, after battling cancer, leaving Randy as the last Bachman brother.