Blair Thornton

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Blair Thornton
Born (1950-07-23) July 23, 1950 (age 67)
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Genres Rock
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter
Years active 1970–present
Associated acts

Blair Montgomery Thornton (born July 23, 1950 in Vancouver, British Columbia) is a rock guitarist and songwriter most widely known for his work with the Canadian rock band Bachman-Turner Overdrive (BTO). He also played in the Vancouver-based band Crosstown Bus prior to joining BTO.

Thornton joined the group in January 1974 during the supporting tour for the Bachman-Turner Overdrive II album, replacing Tim Bachman shortly after that album was released. Thornton made his live debut with BTO at a televised event for Don Kirshner's In Concert program hosted by Don E. Branker.[1]

With Thornton's arrival, BTO began incorporating "dual-lead" guitar solos in many new songs, with Thornton playing the lead guitar parts along with primary lead guitarist Randy Bachman.[2] Such solos were not a major feature on the band's first two albums. In interviews years later, Randy noted that Blair Thornton was a welcome addition:

"He was known for playing in the Eric Clapton/Bluesbreakers style, and was more advanced on the guitar than my brother Tim, who was basically a rhythm player who left all the lead to me. I'm not that good. I would repeat myself, my vocabulary is limited and I didn't have time to go out and learn. So Blair brought in a new style. We now had twin lead guitars, and that made my job a lot easier; it gave us more versatility."[3]

As a songwriter, Thornton contributed two compositions to the Not Fragile album: "Givin' It All Away" and an instrumental called "Freewheelin'" that also wound up as the B-side of the No. 1 hit "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet". He also co-wrote three songs for the follow-up 1975 album, Four Wheel Drive, including the title track (with Randy Bachman),[4] and co-wrote the Top 40 hit "Take It Like a Man" (with Fred Turner) for the late 1975 album Head On. Two other songs on Head On, "It's Over" and "Wild Spirit", also credit Thornton and Turner as songwriters.

Following Randy Bachman's departure from the group in 1977, Thornton took over as primary lead guitarist on their next two albums: Street Action (1978) and Rock n' Roll Nights (1979), also contributing several compositions. Thornton rejoined the "classic" Not Fragile line-up (Randy Bachman, Rob Bachman, and Fred Turner) in 1988 for a reunion tour. In 1991, Randy Bachman left the group again and this time was replaced by Vancouver guitarist-singer Randy Murray. This version of BTO proved to be the most enduring, as they toured together until the latter part of 2004. In 2014 Thornton along with original band members Fred Turner, Rob and Randy Bachman were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Thornton currently enjoys a quiet semi-retirement with his wife, Shane.

Awards and Recognitions[edit]

Juno Awards[edit]

Year Award Result
1974 Most Promising Group Of The Year Won
Contemporary Album of the Year Won
1975 Group of the Year Won
Best Selling Album of the Year Won
1976 Group of the Year Won
Best Selling Album of the Year Won
Best Selling Single of the Year Won
1978 Group of the Year Nominated
2014 Canadian Music Hall of Fame Inductee


  1. ^ Retrieved 2011-04-03
  2. ^ Liner notes on Not Fragile album, 1974 BTO release
  3. ^ Heatley, Michael (May 2, 2014). "The Turbulent History of Bachman-Turner Overdrive". Retrieved March 9, 2016. 
  4. ^ Liner notes on Four-Wheel Drive album, 1975 BTO release

External links[edit]