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Group Members: Burton Cummings
All Music Guide:
While the Guess Who did have several hits in America, they were superstars in their home country of Canada during the 1960s and early '70s. The band grew out of vocalist/guitarist Chad Allan (born Allan Kobel) and guitarist Randy Bachman's Winnipeg-based group Chad Allan and the Expressions, originally known as first the Silvertones and then the Reflections. The remainder of the lineup featured bassist Jim Kale, pianist Bob Ashley, and drummer Garry Peterson. The Expressions recorded a cover of Johnny Kidd and the Pirates' "Shakin' All Over" in 1965, which became a surprise hit in Canada and reached the U.S. Top 40. When the Expressions recorded an entire album of the same name, its record company, Quality, listed their name as "Guess Who?" on the jacket, hoping to fool record buyers into thinking that the British Invasion-influenced music was actually by a more famous group in disguise. Ashley had been replaced by keyboardist/vocalist Burton Cummings, who became lead vocalist when Allan departed in 1966. The Guess Who embarked on an unsuccessful tour of England and returned home to record commercials and appear on the television program Let's Go, hosted by Chad Allan. However, further American success eluded the Guess Who until the 1969 Top Ten hit "These Eyes"; the recording session for the accompanying album, Wheatfield Soul, was paid for by producer Jack Richardson, who mortgaged his house to do so. Canned Wheat Packed by the Guess Who produced three Top 40 singles later that year. In 1970, the Guess Who released the cuttingly sarcastic riff-rocker "American Woman," which, given its anti-American putdowns, ironically became their only U.S. chart-topper. The album of the same name became their first U.S. Top Ten and first gold album, and the group performed for President and Mrs. Nixon and Prince Charles at the White House. (Pat Nixon requested that "American Woman" be dropped from the set list.)
Trouble was brewing on the horizon, though. Guitarist Bachman, having recently converted to Mormonism, took issue with the band's typical rock & roll lifestyle, leading to clashes with Cummings. Finding the atmosphere unbearable, Bachman left the group in July 1970 and formed Brave Belt with Chad Allan, which later evolved into Bachman-Turner Overdrive. His place in the Guess Who was taken by Kurt Winter and Greg Leskiw, and the title track from their next album, "Share the Land," climbed into the Top Ten later that year, and several more singles charted afterwards. The group returned to the Top Ten one last time in 1974 with the novelty single "Clap for the Wolfman," featuring dialogue by deejay Wolfman Jack. Burdened by shifting personnel and loss of direction, Cummings broke up the band in 1975 and tried a solo career. The lineup from the Guess Who's glory years reunited in 1983, and a version of the group with constantly shifting musicians (occasionally original members) continues to tour.
Wikipedia:Not to be confused with The Who.
The Guess Who are a Canadian rock band from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Initially gaining recognition in Canada, the group also found international success from the late 1960s through the mid-1970s with numerous hit singles, including "No Time", "American Woman", "These Eyes" and "Share the Land". Several former members of The Guess Who, notably Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman (of Bachman–Turner Overdrive), have found considerable success outside the band.
The band was inducted into The Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1987."Juno Awards". Junoawards.ca. Retrieved 2011-06-06.
ContentsHistory1.1 Early years (1958–1965)1.2 Transitional years and Let's Go (1966–1968)1.3 Initial international success (1969–1970)1.4 Personnel changes, and continued success (1970–1975)1.5 Reformations1.6 The Guess Who in the 2000s
Early years (1958–1965)
The Guess Who started out as a local Winnipeg band formed by singer/guitarist Chad Allan in 1958 and initially called Allan and the Silvertones. This was changed to Chad Allan and the Reflections by 1962, by which point the band consisted of Chad Allan (lead vocals/guitar), Bob Ashley (keyboards), Randy Bachman (guitars), Jim Kale (bass), and Garry Peterson (drums). The Reflections name was chosen since it was similar to the British group The Shadows, which was one of the band's biggest influences. All the band members were born in Winnipeg.
The band's debut single ("Tribute To Buddy Holly") was released on Canadian-American Records in 1962. Chad Allan and the Reflections then signed with Quality Records and released several singles in 1963/64, which were regional hits but did not make much of a mark across Canada. Quality even released an instrumental single (on their RIO subsidiary) deliberately mis-credited to Bob Ashley & The Reflections. By 1965, the group was forced to change its name to Chad Allan & the Expressions after a U.S. group called The Reflections had scored a hit with "Just Like Romeo & Juliet".
It was at this point that the band scored their first hit, a 1965 rendition of Johnny Kidd & The Pirates' "Shakin' All Over". This track reached #1 in Canada, #22 in the U.S (where Quality had licensed the track to the American Scepter label for release in the U.S.), and #27 in Australia. However, in an attempt to build a mystique around the record, Quality Records credited the single only to "Guess Who?" It was hoped that some listeners might assume the "Guess Who?" identity was deliberately masking several famous performers working under a pseudonym – given the "beat group" nature of the record, perhaps even members of The Beatles and/or other popular British Invasion bands. In concealing the identity of the band in this fashion, Quality Records may have been influenced by a similar ploy made the previous year by "The You Know Who Group", an American outfit whose Merseybeat-ish 1964 single "Roses Are Red (My Love)" had peaked at #43 in the US and at #21 in Canada.
It is debatable as to whether anyone was really fooled by the "Guess Who?" ruse, or if the record would have been a hit regardless of the artist credit. But the upshot was that, even after Quality Records revealed the band was "really" Chad Allan & The Expressions, disc jockeys still announced the group as Guess Who?, effectively forcing the band to rename themselves.
Transitional years and Let's Go (1966–1968)
The immediate follow-ups to "Shakin' All Over" met with major success in Canada but very little success elsewhere. After Bob Ashley left the group in late 1965, Burton Cummings joined the band as keyboardist and co-lead vocalist (with Chad Allan) in early January 1966. This line-up only lasted for a few months before Chad Allan left, making Cummings the new full-time lead singer. By this point, the band's name had become "The Guess Who?" (the question mark would finally be dropped in 1968) and with Chad Allan gone, the "Chad Allan & The Expressions" subtitle was dropped once and for all. Feeling that they'd "played out" all the venues in Winnipeg, the band began playing in Regina, Saskatchewan, in 1966. While there, they crossed paths with a young Joni Mitchell and Neil Young, who played in many of the same venues as the group.
The group continued to release top 40 singles in Canada, like "Clock on the Wall" and even had one single "His Girl" scrape the lower reaches of the UK charts in 1967. However, a trip to the UK to promote this single proved to be a financial disaster as the single dropped off the charts after only one week, and The Guess Who found themselves unable to get airplay or to book any paying gigs without work visas. They returned to Canada within a matter of weeks, thousands of dollars in debt.
The band's fortunes were saved when, later in 1967, they landed a gig as the house band on the CBC radio show, The Swingers and as the house band on CBC television show Let's Go, a music show oriented toward teenagers. The show aired 39 weeks a year and the paycheques from it allowed The Guess Who to pay off their debts and it also gave them further exposure in Canada. Although the band was initially hired only to perform the chart hits of the day on the show (in arrangements as close as possible to the actual hit records), after a time, the show's producer encouraged the group to write and perform their own material as well. The Guess Who stayed with Let's Go for two years; a compilation of some of their Let's Go performances was released on CD in 2004.
Among those who noticed The Guess Who during their run on Let's Go was record producer/sales executive Jack Richardson. He contacted the band about participating in an advertising project for Coca-Cola; this turned out to be the recording of a split LP with Ottawa band The Staccatos (soon to rename themselves The Five Man Electrical Band). The resulting album was called A Wild Pair, and featured The Guess Who on one side and The Staccatos on the other. The album was only available for purchase through mail-order for the price of 10 Coca Cola bottle cap liners and $1 (to cover shipping expenses). Guitarist Randy Bachman has stated in interviews that he believes A Wild Pair sold enough copies in Canada to qualify for gold record status; however, because the album was not sold through normal retail channels, no certified sales figures are available.
Initial international success (1969–1970)
Richardson, who produced their material on A Wild Pair, believed that The Guess Who were on the verge of an international breakthrough. Accordingly, he mortgaged his house to finance the group's next batch of recordings in September 1968, which would become the album Wheatfield Soul and included the ballad "These Eyes". This song, released in January 1969, became the group's first Top 10 US hit for their new label RCA Records. It sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc by the Recording Industry Association of America Richardson would remain the group's producer through to their dissolution in 1975.
The band quickly followed up Wheatfield Soul with the release of Canned Wheat in September, 1969. The album featured the singles "Laughing" and "Undun" along with the initial recording of the song "No Time".
By the beginning of the 1970s, The Guess Who had moved toward an edgier hard-rock sound with the album American Woman, the title track for which, "American Woman" (coupled with its B-side "No Sugar Tonight") was the group's only No. 1 hit in the U.S. "American Woman" also earned The Guess Who the honor of being the first Canadian group to have a No. 1 hit on the U.S. Hot 100. (The Crew Cuts from Toronto had a long-running US #1 "Sh-Boom" in the summer of 1954, four years before the existence of the Hot 100.) The band re-recorded "No Time" for the American Woman album, and the single became a Top Five U.S. hit, preceding "American Woman" by about three months.
Personnel changes, and continued success (1970–1975)
In the spring of 1970, Bachman was sidelined by a gall bladder attack. The group continued touring with an American guitarist, Bobby Sabellico. But differences between Bachman and Cummings (mainly due to Bachman's conversion to Mormonism) led Bachman to leave the group after playing one final show with them at the Fillmore East in New York City on May 16, 1970. New studio recordings (eventually released in 1976 as The Way They Were) were abandoned. Randy returned to Winnipeg and later formed Brave Belt in 1971, which evolved into the hugely successful Bachman–Turner Overdrive. Bachman was replaced by two guitarists, fellow Winnipeggers Kurt Winter, from the band Brother, and Greg Leskiw. Winter became the main songwriting collaborator with Cummings, and The Guess Who continued on scoring additional hit singles such as "Hand Me Down World", "Share the Land", "Hang On to Your Life", "Albert Flasher", and "Rain Dance".
In 1972, they recorded their highly acclaimed album "Live at the Paramount" which was recorded at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle.
Leskiw left the band before the Paramount show in 1972 to be replaced by Don McDougall, and soon after, bassist Jim Kale left as well. Winter's former bandmate from Brother, Bill Wallace, came in to take over bass duties. This preceded an overseas tour with Three Dog Night in November–December 1972 to Japan, New Zealand and Australia.
Cummings, Wallace and Winter wrote the Guess Who's last big hit, "Clap for the Wolfman", which reached #4 in Canada and #6 in the U.S. and which was an homage to disc jockey Wolfman Jack, who lent his voice to the recording before McDougall and Winter left in June 1974. Domenic Troiano became the new lead guitarist for the band and Cummings' chief songwriting collaborator.
Cummings, feeling more and more out of synch with the jazzier & progressive leanings of Troiano and the others, decided to pursue a solo direction and the Guess Who broke up in October 1975. Cummings then went on to forge his own successful career.
In November 1977 CBC approached the band about doing a reunion. Cummings and Bachman were not interested since they were busy with their solo careers. Kale, Peterson, Winter and McDougall did respond, however. Kale was on tour in Kenora, Ontario, and contacted Cummings and Bachman about using the Guess Who name. They both gave him their blessing for the one-time use, but soon after, Kale found out that the name "The Guess Who" had never been registered. He promptly drove back to Winnipeg to register it, and maintains control of the band name to this day.
Bassist Kale decided to continue on with The Guess Who from that point, initially joined by returning members Kurt Winter (guitars) and Don McDougall (lead vocals and guitar), as well as new recruits David Inglis (lead guitars) and Vance Masters (drums). Masters had been drummer in the Winnipeg group Brother with Winter.
A new studio album called Guess Who's Back was released in Canada to minimal attention in 1978. Winter dropped out shortly after the album's release, but the remaining quartet soldiered on and retooled the album for American release in 1979 as All This For a Song. Four of the eight tracks contained on Guess Who's Back also appear in All This For A Song, some in re-recorded form; the rest of the album's tracks are new. As was the case with Guess Who's Back, this album was a commercial and critical flop.
Kale left the band for a short spell and was involved with other projects as the others continued on without him (see Lineups below). But by 1981 he was back, and that year a completely new Guess Who line-up (save for Kale) put out a new studio LP called Now And Not Then on the El Mocambo label, featuring new vocalist Brent DesJarlais. The album was released only in Canada and Germany.
In 1983 Bachman, Cummings, Jim Kale and Garry Peterson (the "American Woman" line-up) reunited as The Guess Who to play a series of Canadian gigs and record the Together Again live album and video. The concert and subsequent releases were the first time Bachman had performed many of the songs written and recorded after his departure. Four new studio recordings were also made (with audience noise overdubbed on the album).
After the reunion, Bachman and Cummings resumed their solo work and Kale once again resumed touring with various musicians under The Guess Who banner (see Lineups below). By 1987, Garry Peterson (drums) had returned to the fold, and the new vocalist was Kenny Carter. A 4-song cassette of new material from this line-up appeared in 1987, called Guess Who '87. In one of the few mainstream reviews it received, Craig MacInnis of the Toronto Star opined, "The playing is roadhouse sloppy and the songs are pure junk."
A new Guess Who studio album, Liberty (also issued as Lonely One) with vocalist Terry Hatty was released in 1995. As with Guess Who 87, virtually no attention was paid to it in the mainstream press and the few reviews of the album were almost all overwhelmingly negative.
In May 1997 with their hometown of Winnipeg facing a potentially disastrous flood that had already taken cities south of the border, Bachman and Cummings reunited in Winnipeg for the first time in 10 years in an emotional fund raiser for disaster relief organized by Tom Jackson.
The Guess Who in the 2000s
On August 8, 1999, Cummings, Bachman, Kale and Peterson reunited once again in response to a personal request from the Premier of Manitoba to appear at the closing ceremonies of the Pan American Games at Winnipeg Stadium. The following year, Cummings, Bachman, Kale and Peterson were joined by Don McDougall as they were offered a reunion tour. The reunion led to a cross-Canada and US tour for the band beginning in 2000, although health problems precluded Kale's involvement. Bill Wallace, who was Kale's replacement in 1972, was brought in as his successor once again, and this line-up of the band played and toured regularly through the end of 2003. A live album and DVD release followed the 2000 tour.
In 2001, the band received honorary doctorates at Brandon University in Brandon, Manitoba. For former lead vocalist Cummings, it was a privilege to receive the doctorate, since he did not graduate from high school. That same year the group was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame. It was the then-current iteration of the group that received this honour: only the signatures of Bachman, Cummings, McDougall, Peterson and Wallace are engraved into the commemorative stone.
In 2003, The Guess Who performed before an estimated audience of 450,000 at the Molson Canadian Rocks for Toronto SARS benefit concert. The show was the largest outdoor ticketed event in Canadian history.
As of 2004, Bachman, Cummings, McDougall and Wallace ended their association with the band, and Jim Kale and Garry Peterson, who lawfully own the trademark "The Guess Who", resumed their Guess Who touring schedule of around sixty dates a year. In 2007, Bachman and Cummings renewed their association as collaborative recording artists: unable to use the Guess Who name, they issued the album Jukebox as "Bachman Cummings".
The Guess Who continue to perform live dates on a regular basis. Carl Dixon (ex-Coney Hatch) was the group's lead singer through 2008, until he was injured in an automobile accident which left him unable to perform with the group. The current Guess Who line-up consists of Derek Sharp (vocals, guitars), Will Evankovich (guitars, backing vocals), Leonard Shaw (keyboards), Jim Kale (bass), and Garry Peterson (drums).Einarson, John. American Woman: The Story of The Guess Who; Quarry Press, Ontario, Canada, pp. 35-39 "The Guess Who - His Girl". Chart Stats. 1967-02-18. Retrieved 2011-06-06. The Guess Who - Canada's First Supergroup (Part One) Rewind with Michael Enright. Retrieved Sep. 10, 2014. Edwardson, Ryan. Canuck Rock: A History of Canadian Popular Music. University of Toronto Press. p. 130-131. Let's Go - The Guess Who CD Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 259. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. Adam White & Fred Bronson (1988). The Billboard Book of Hits. Billboard Books. ISBN 0-8230-8285-7. "Live At The Paramount Review". Retrieved 2013-06-19. "The Guess Who Bio, History, Info on JamBase". Retrieved 2013-06-19. "Canadian Bands.com - Guess Who". Retrieved 2013-06-19. "CBC Television Special: Rockin' on the Red River". CBC Digital Archives. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2006-06-30. Retrieved 2009-10-03. "The Guess Who". Canada's Walk of Fame. Retrieved 2009-10-03. "CBC News - Toronto Rocked". Cbc.ca. Retrieved 2014-04-18. "The Guess Who". Theguesswhocafe.com. Retrieved 2014-04-18. "Canadian singer Carl Dixon fighting for life in Melbourne". Herald Sun. April 16, 2008. Retrieved 13 June 2011. Perkins, Martha (2009). "Lucky to be alive, happy to be home". Haliburton Echo. Archived from the original on July 24, 2011. Retrieved 13 June 2011.