Takin' Care of Business - Development


Randy Bachman had sung what would later become "Takin' Care of Business" while still a member of The Guess Who. His original idea was to write about a recording technician who worked on The Guess Who's recordings. This particular technician would take the 8:15 train to get to work, inspiring the lyrics "take the 8:15 into the city." The standard uniform worn by technicians at the studio was a white collared shirt, which inspired the title "White Collar Worker."

The first guitar riff Bachman had arranged for the song was similar to that of The Beatles' "Paperback Writer." When he first played this for Burton Cummings, Cummings declared that he was ashamed of him and that The Guess Who would never record the song because the Beatles would sue them.

While BTO was still playing bars in Vancouver, British Columbia, Bachman was driving into town listening to the radio when he heard a particular DJ's (Daryl B) catch phrase "We're takin' care of business." Lead vocalist Fred Turner's voice gave out before the band's last set that night. Bachman sang some cover songs to get through the last set, and on a whim, he told the band to play the C, B-flat and F chords (a I-VII-IV progression) over and over, and he sang "White Collar Worker" with the new words "Takin' Care of Business" inserted into the chorus.

After this, he rewrote the lyrics to "White Collar Worker" with a new chorus and the title "Takin' Care of Business." Along with this he wrote a revised guitar riff, which was the I-VII-IV progression played with a shuffle. The song was recorded by Bachman–Turner Overdrive for their second album Bachman–Turner Overdrive II. It would reach #12 on the Billboard singles charts, #3 on the Canadian RPM charts, and become one of B.T.O.'s most enduring and well-known songs.

The original studio version, recorded at Kaye-Smith Studios in Seattle, Washington, also features a prominent piano, played by Norman Durkee. Durkee was delivering a pizza to the Steve Miller Band in the next studio when he poked his head into BTO's studio while the playbacks of "Takin' Care of Business" were running. While Bachman assumed that Durkee was just a pizza delivery man, Durkee was actually an accomplished musician and musical director for Bette Midler and Barry Manilow. Durkee said, "that needs a piano...a real boogie-woogie piano would sound cool," and he left. The band tracked him down in another studio, Durkee scribbled the chords down on a pizza box, and recorded the piano part in one take.

The title track of the 1979 album "Keepin' the Summer Alive" by The Beach Boys, co-written by Bachman, shares a similar melody and tempo as the song.

In 2011, Bachman said it was the most licensed song in Sony Music's publishing catalogue. It is often referred to as "the Provincial rock anthem of Manitoba"

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