Opinion: How a rock anthem helped change lives of those who stutter

You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet, by Winnipeg’s BTO, turns 50 this year. The No. 1 hit began as an inside joke and became an inspiration for many.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s hit single You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet, which reached No. 1 in the United States, Canada and 20 other countries.

However, this 1974 classic rock anthem by the Winnipeg-based band created a wave of attention in 2011, which resulted in positive karma for countless Canadians who stutter.

That year, the Stuttering Foundation issued a press release titled “Stuttering to the Top of the Charts,” in which it named BTO’s song as the top stuttering song of all time, beating out such famous tunes as Elton John’s Bennie and the Jets, The Who’s My Generation, David Bowie’s Changes and many others.

We chose BTO’s song because it was about a real person who stuttered. The backstory underscores the power of speech therapy.

BTO’s first manager was a Bachman brother, Gary, who stuttered. After Gary left his role as manager, Randy Bachman sang their new song with stuttering vocals as an inside joke, with the intention that only Gary would hear the tape.

After BTO recorded their new album Not Fragile, the record company had room for another song on the LP. Randy played You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet, explained it was a joke and re-recorded it. However, the team at Mercury Records hated the new “serious” version and insisted on the stuttering vocals.

Gary Bachman would later overcome his stuttering through speech therapy and embark on a highly successful career in real estate, becoming one of the top realtors in Winnipeg and owning his own agency for over 30 years.

When the Stuttering Foundation sent out its press release in 2011, a Winnipeg newspaper interviewed Gary Bachman and published an article that was picked up by virtually every newspaper in Canada.

The result was that the true story behind You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet was revealed some 37 years after the fact.

We at the Stuttering Foundation were swamped by a tsunami of emails and calls from Canadian communications people who stutter.

Many called to say they were inspired by the story, and wanted advice on pursuing speech therapy. Others said they had entered speech therapy after reading the article.

One person told us that for 37 years he had to change the station every time the song came on because it was too painful. Now, it was his favourite song of all time!

How wonderful that almost four decades after topping the charts, a classic rock song helped transform lives by leading people who stutter into speech therapy. Every time Randy Bachman does an interview and mentions the song’s background, we receive inquiries for guidance.

On the 50th anniversary of You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet, we thank BTO, Gary Bachman and especially Randy Bachman.

We hope his interviews around the world continue to send people who stutter to speech therapy.

Canada should be proud not only of the song’s enduring success, but also of how it served to help so many adults and children throughout the country and beyond.

Jane Fraser is president of the Stuttering Foundation in Memphis, Tenn.

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