Robin “Robbie” Bachman, the co-founder and drummer of 1970s rockers Bachman-Turner Overdrive, has died at 69. The news was announced by Bachman’s older brother, former Guess Who singer and BTO vocalist Randy Bachman in a statement on Thursday (Jan. 12), in which he wrote, “Another sad departure. The pounding beat behind BTO, my little brother Robbie has joined Mum, Dad & brother Gary on the other side. Maybe Jeff Beck needs a drummer! He was an integral cog in our rock ‘n’ roll machine and we rocked the world together. #RIP #littlebrother #family.”
The Winnipeg, Manitoba-bred band (also known as BTO) formed in 1973 and blazed a trail through the prog rock and disco era with a series of hard-charging AM radio rock hits including the Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 single “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet,” as well as “Takin’ Care of Business,” “Roll on Down the Highway” and “Let It Ride.” The original lineup included another Bachman sibling, guitarist Tim Bachman (replaced by Blair Thornton in 1974), as well as bassist Fred Turner.
BTO released their self-titled debut in May 1973, but it was their second album, Dec. 1973’s Bachman-Turner Overdrive II that broke them in the U.S., thanks to signature hits “Takin’ Care of Business” and “Let It Ride.” The group’s third effort, 1974’s Not Fragile, hit No. 1 on the Billboard album charts and spawned the driving, stuttering No. 1 hit “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” and another enduring classic rock radio staple “Roll on Down the Highway,” co-written by Robbie Bachman.
Singer Randy Bachman split after the release of 1977’s Freeways, replaced by bassist Jim Clench, with the group forced to perform as BTO due to the ex-singer’s rights to the full name. The band split up in 1980 and reunited three years later, with Robbie Bachman replaced by former Guess Who drummer Gary Peterson; he returned in 1988 for another three-year run.
Due to ongoing tensions between the Bachman brothers, the revolving door of band lineups continued throughout the late 1980s through a second break-up in 2005; that break-up marked the official end of Robbie Bachman’s run with BTO. Randy Bachman returned for a fourth stint on the mic in 2009, leading the group through its final split in 2018.
See Randy Bachman’s tribute and listen to “Roll on Down the Highway” below.
Get weekly rundowns straight to your inbox