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Profile: The Guess Who

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The Guess Who

The Guess Who

source: theguesswho.4t.com

Formed:

1960 (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada)

Genres:

Pop, Pop-soul, Hard Rock, Country-rock, Classic Rock

Principal Members:

Burton Cummings (b. December 31, 1947, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada): lead vocals, keyboards
Randy Bachman (b. September 27, 1943, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada): lead guitar
Jim Kale (b. August 11, 1943, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada): bass
Garry Peterson (b. May 26, 1945, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada): drums

Contributions to music:

  • The first Canadian rock band to achieve success in the US without leaving Canada
  • Paved the way for the hard rock acts of the Seventies with hits like "American Woman" and "No Time"
  • Also noted for elegant pop-soul ballads like "These Eyes," "Laughing," and "Undun"
  • Created a controversial (and some say anti-American) hit with 1970's protest "American Woman"
  • Leader Burton Cummings is recognized as one of rock's most versatile voices
  • Guitarist Randy Bachman eventually helped popularize boogie with his band Bachman-Turner Overdrive

Early years:

The Guess Who took the better part of a decade to break on the US charts, despite having a minor hit in 1965 with "Shakin' All Over," which the group recorded under their original name of Chad Allen and the Expressions (and which was originally recorded by Johnny Kidd and the Pirates). When the song, which sounded like a British Invasion stomper, was released, their label credited the 45 to "Guess Who?" thinking that Americans might mistake the Canadian band for a group of Brits. The ruse worked, but despite quickly becoming legends in their home country, no more hits in America (or in England) followed.

Success:

By mid-1966, Allan left, to be replaced by keyboardist / lead singer Burton Cummings. The band, now more or less stuck with the gimmicky name, traveled to New York at the behest of their manager and recorded a "professional" album at the studio of Phil Ramone (who would later go on to produce Billy Joel's Seventies hits). "These Eyes" resulted, eventually becoming a worldwide smash, and the group showed their range with the 1970 hit "American Woman," a classic riff-rocker. Guitarist Randy Bachman's conversion to Mormonism, however, soon led him to denounce the rock lifestyle, and he left soon after.

Later years:

Two guitarists -- Kurt Winter and Greg Leskiw -- took Bachman's place, and the hits kept coming, albeit erratically; by 1974, with the novelty Wolfman Jack tribute "Clap For The Wolfman," the band was played out. Cummings went on to a solo career, scoring a million-selling ballad in 1975's "Stand Tall," while Bachman had already struck gold with his new band, Bachman-Turner Overdrive. The original lineup toured throughout the Eighties, and in 1999, on the heels of Lenny Kravitz' hit remake of "American Woman," A Kale-led version of the band tours today, as does a Bachman-Cummings retrospective.

Other facts:

  • The Expressions were originally called the Silvertones, then the Reflections, but changed to the Expressions after the Reflections of "Just Like Romeo And Juliet" objected
  • Jack Richardson mortgaged his home to pay for the sessions resulting in the band's first album, Wheatfield Soul
  • "American Woman" was written after a US Customs official treated the band badly at the border; the woman in the title is said to be the Statue of Liberty, although the group denies this
  • The Guess Who performed for the Nixons and England's Prince Charles at the White House (Pat Nixon asked that "American Woman," however, not be played)

Awards/Honors:

  • Juno Awards (1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1975)
  • Canadian Recording Arts & Sciences (CARAS) Hall of Fame (1987)
  • Canadian Walk of Fame (2001)
  • Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame (2002)

Recorded work:

#1 hits:
Pop:
  • "American Woman" (1970)
  • "No Sugar Tonight" (1970)
Top 10 hits:
Pop:
  • "Laughing" (1969)
  • "These Eyes" (1969)
  • "No Time" (1970)
  • "Share The Land" (1970)
  • "Clap For The Wolfman" (1974)
Top 10 albums:
Pop:
  • American Woman (1970)
Other important recordings: "Shakin' All Over," "Undun," "Hand Me Down World," "New Mother Nature," "Albert Flasher," "Broken," "Hang On To Your Life," "Rain Dance," "Guns, Guns, Guns," "Heartbroken Bopper," "Runnin' Back To Saskatoon," "Sour Suite," "Follow Your Daughter Home," "Star Baby," "Dancin' Fool," "It's My Pride," "When Friends Fall Out," "A Wednesday In Your Garden," "6 A.M. or Nearer," "The Answer," "Bus Rider," "Do You Miss Me Darlin'," "Hey Ho, What You Do To Me," "Hurting Each Other," "Believe Me," "Clock On The Wall," "And She's Mine," "His Girl," "This Time Long Ago," "Flying On The Ground Is Wrong," "Life In The Bloodstream," "Loves Me Like A Brother," "Pain Train," "Smoke Big Factory," "Samantha's Living Room," "Orly," "Those Show Biz Shoes," "Glamour Boy," "Cardboard Empire," "Sona Sona," "Hoe Down Time," "Dreams," "When The Band Was Singin' 'Shakin' All Over'"
Covered by: Lenny Kravitz, Michael Bolton, Natalie Cole, Alton Ellis, Butthole Surfers, Jr. Walker and the All-Stars, Jello Biafra, Krokus, Prince, Ringo Starr
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