USA Today: Bachman, Turner reunited after takin care of heavy business

By Jerry Shriver, USA TODAY

July 16, 2010

Maybe a couple of older-but -slimmer Canadian rock icons can lend some muscle to this summer’s sluggish concert season, if not kick it into overdrive.

That’s the mission for Randy Bachman and C.F. “Fred” Turner, co-founders of ’70s rock quartet Bachman-Turner Overdrive, who have paired up for the first time in two decades in the five-man configuration Bachman-Turner. They’ve just launched a world tour of festivals and medium-size venues and will release their self-titled debut album Sept. 7 “It sounds just like 1977 – we’re elated,” says Bachman, 66.

Missing this time out: Former BTO mates with whom they recorded such hits as You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet and Takin’ Care of Business– and nearly 290 pounds of weight the two men have shed over the past decade. Onstage, they’re presenting a mix of classic hits and new material; offstage, they’re monitoring their waistlines.

“To get up in the morning and feel like you can fly – that weight was like carrying a brother on my back,” says the 6-foot-tall Bachman, who had ballooned to about 380 pounds. After his doctor declared him “morbidly obese,” Bachman had gastric bypass surgery in 2002 (he says he got advice from Brian Wilson‘s daughter Carnie) and got down to 218.

Today, he weighs about 240 pounds and has “a different walk, new clothes, different posture. I had to re-educate my muscles” to play the electric guitar.

Turner’s approach required more discipline. After retiring from BTO in 2005 (“We had played ourselves to death”), his weight rose to 308 pounds. An overture from Bachman two years ago to provide a guest vocal for his solo album and perhaps tour together spurred him to get back in shape.

“I thought, ‘I’m not going back onstage and doing 90 minutes, then look for oxygen afterward,’ ” says Turner, 67, who contributed four songs to the new album.

He radically changed his diet and living habits, began exercising regularly and now weighs about 186 pounds. And he sings as lustily as he did on Let It Ride and Roll on Down the Highway, the hits that helped BTO sell 30 million albums.

“Luckily, I still seem to have the power I had when I was younger,” he says. “Possibly, losing weight made it easier for my stomach muscles and diaphragm to force the vocals out.”

Those vocals served him well as Bachman & Turner made its debut in Winnipeg about six weeks ago. Festivals in British Columbia and London are up next; the first U.S. date is July 28 in Vienna, Va.

“We just keep rolling along and staying alive,” Bachman says. “Happy every night and paying our bills.”