Bachman-Turner Overdrive, a rock and roll band King was listening to at the moment his publisher requested him to adopt a pseudonym on the spot, inspired King. King first supplied biographical information on Bachman in the "about the author" blurbs in the early novels. He then let the name stand for himself until Flamingo presented him with the opportunity to choose another.
King said he chose the name because it was simple to write and seemed like a good identity to have. Also, he enjoyed the sound of it.
Later, when asked why he used this name instead of his real one, King replied that he had no real name and wanted to try something new.
He also liked the fact that it could be spelled two different ways.
Although Bachman-Turner Overdrive is not his only pseudonym, it's the most famous one. He has written three books under this name alone.
His true name is Robert Arthur Stanley King. He was born on January 4th, 1943 in Toronto, Canada and died on October 14th, 1998 from cancer at the age of 49.
Before becoming a writer, he worked as a radio announcer and songwriter. His songs have been covered by many artists including Alex Band, Bob Dylan, and The Byrds.
On other instances, King has claimed complete ownership of the Bachman name, such as when he reissued the first four Bachman novels as The Bachman Books: Four Early Novels by Stephen King in 1985. The beginning, "Why I Was Bachman," goes into the entire Bachman/King affair. It's a good read.
He also claims credit for coming up with many ideas for characters that appear in his stories (such as Carrie), and states that he often steals from himself. For example, several characters in The Dark Half have obvious similarities to characters from other King works, such as "It" being based on "The Mist", which itself was inspired by "The Shining".
In addition to writing horror fiction, King has written mystery novels under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. He has also published two collections of short stories, both titled Everything's Eventual and Both Have Something To Do With Horror Films.
King says he writes "in an attempt to reach people who don't read much literature", which is probably why you won't find too many literary awards hanging on his wall. However, he has been praised for his use of language and his ability to make readers feel like they are sitting around a campfire with him, telling ghostly tales.
Brown, Steve Steve Brown, a bookshop worker, was the first to realize Bachman was King. He couldn't help but note the stylistic parallels between the two authors when reading Thinner. He contacted HarperCollins, who agreed that Bachman was probably not only a pseudonym for King (despite some speculation to the contrary), but also her lover.
HarperCollins hired a private investigator to look into King's life, and he came up with Michael McDermott as a possible candidate. However, this investigation also failed to turn up any evidence of a real-life counterpart for Bachman.
In 1998, another fan of Thinner named Bill Myers used DNA testing to determine that if King were indeed Bachman, then she would be his third cousin once removed. Myers later wrote a letter to the editor of Crime Fiction Chronicle stating that although he was surprised by the result, it made sense given what he knew about King's lifestyle.
Myers' conclusion was confirmed in June 2000 when King's former lawyer said in an interview that she had used someone else's identity when she signed contracts with publishers in the early days of her career. The lawyer also said that based on how things had worked back then, it was likely that Bachman was a woman.
Aside from his major successes, first with the Guess Who in the 1960s and then with Bachman-Turner Overdrive in the 1970s, Bachman had his share of setbacks, whether it was clashes with his bandmates over artistic and personal reasons, or the heavy toll of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle on his marriage and...
Bachman formed Guess Who in Montreal in 1964. The group became a big hit in Canada after releasing their debut album, which featured songs written by Bachman himself as well as others who were regulars on the Canadian music scene at the time. After releasing another album, More Time, in 1966, Guess Who broke up.
In the late '60s, Bachman started working on projects of his own. He released two solo albums, 1969's Paul William Bachman and 1970's The Other Side of Bachman, before joining forces with Turner for three more albums from 1972 to 1974. In between all these releases, he also contributed songs to other artists' albums. One of those was Roger McGuinn of the Byrds' version of "You're a Big Girl Now," which reached number one in the US in 1973.
After leaving Bachman-Turner Overdrive in 1975, he went back to school to study music therapy. He received his degree in 1977 and started his own counseling service.
Later media dispatches (and author blurbs) indicated that Bachman died unexpectedly in late 1985 of "cancer of the pseudonym, a rare kind of schizonomia" when his genuine name was disclosed. Bachman's early books—Rage (1977), The Long Walk (1979), Roadwork (1981), and The Running Man (1982)—were dedicated to persons close to him. He had married young, divorced, then married again. One son by his first marriage and two children by his second marriage survived him.
Bachman wrote four novels before he was 30 years old. Three of these were made into movies: Rage, which was also adapted as a television movie; The Long Walk, based on its own sequel written by Bachman; and Roadwork, which was also turned into a film with the same title as the book. All three films are considered classics of their genres. Rage was praised for its intensity and use of location shooting, while The Long Walk was lauded for its realism and ability to capture the psychology of its main character, a young boy, during a period when America was first learning about the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime. Roadwork was also well received, but not as much as its predecessors. It is known today as a road novel, but at the time it was published it belonged to a genre then called "car crime" stories. Its popularity helped bring about the rise of the car crime story as we know it today.
Bachman's known "facts" were his birth in New York and a four-year tenure in the Coast Guard, followed by 10 years in the Merchant Marine. He said he lived in 12 countries and worked on cargo ships as a radio operator and steward.
In his later novels, King often included fictionalized accounts of his own experiences as well as those of friends. In addition to the Coast Guard service, these accounts include two years in the Army (where he was a guard at a prison camp) and one year working as a baker's assistant in Massachusetts.
It is possible that some of this information is fabricated by Bachman for dramatic effect or as a means of providing an identity for his characters. For example, he may have claimed to have been a merchant marine captain so his main character, Roy Collins, would appear more legitimate.
As for the other details, it is unlikely that he actually traveled around the world shipping food, because such jobs would not have afforded him the time to write fiction. His employment with the Army and the bakery are also questionable, since they do not fit with the image of a freewheeling sailor that he had already established with his readers.