The Guess Who is a Canadian rock band from Winnipeg, Manitoba, that was one of the first to establish a major successful following in their own country while still residing there. Produced by Jack Richardson, C.M., they were the first Canadian rock group to have a No.1 hit in the United States (see 1970 in music).
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 flop singles in 1963/64, including one 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., 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.
It is debatable as to whether anyone was really fooled by this 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. So although singles were issued as being by "Guess Who?", on their first two albums, the band was credited as both "Guess Who?" and "Chad Allan & The Expressions".
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.
As the group's lineup changed, so did their sound. Cummings and guitarist Randy Bachman were now the band's main composers, and they moved away from Merseybeat-inspired rock to a sound that mixed rock, blues, and jazz. The 1969 ballad "These Eyes" was the group's first Top 10 US hit for their new label RCA Records. By the beginning of the 1970s, they 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 band to have a No. 1 hit on the American charts. The Top 10 US hit "No Time" preceded "American Woman" by about three months.
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 the others led Bachman to leave the group after playing one final show with them at the Fillmore East in NYC on May 16, 1970. An unfinished 1970 album The Way They Were, was abandoned (not released until 1976, after the band had broken up). Randy returned to Winnipeg, and later formed Brave Belt, which eventually evolved into the supergroup 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 with more hit singles such as "Hand Me Down World", "Share The Land", "Hang On to Your Life" and "Albert Flasher".
In 1972, they recorded their highly acclaimed album "Live at the Paramount" which was recorded at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle. This preceded an overseas tour in November-December 1972 to Japan, New Zealand and Australia.
Leskiw left the band before the Paramount show in 1972 to be replaced by Don McDougall, and bassist Jim Kale left after his lifestyle could no longer support touring. Winter's former bandmate Bill Wallace came in to take over bass duties. Cummings, Wallace and Winter wrote the Guess Who's last big hit, "Clap For The Wolfman", which reached No. 6 in the U.S., and which was an homage to disc jockey Wolfman Jack, who lent his voice to the recording before McDougal and Winter left in 1974. Domenic Troiano became the new lead guitarist for the band and Cummings' chief songwriting collaborator. The Guess Who broke up in 1975. Cummings then went on to forge a successful solo career.
In November 1977 CBC approached the band about doing a reunion. Cummings & Bachman were not interested since they were busy with their solo careers. Kale, Peterson, Winter & McDougal did respond, however. Kale was on tour in Kenora, Ontario, and contacted Cummings & Bachman about using the Guess Who name. They both gave him their blessing. 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.
Kale decided to continue on with The Guess Who from that point, initially joined by Winter, McDougal and Vance Masters (Masters had been drummer in the Winnipeg group Brother with Winter & Wallace). An album called Guess Who's Back was released in Canada to minimal attention. Another studio album, All This For a Song, followed in 1979.
Kale even left the band for a short spell and was involved with other projects as the others continued on without him. But by 1981 he was back and has led an ever changing roster of players to this day. In 1981 Kale's new lineup put out Now & Not Then on the El Macombo label. (See below for complete list of TGW lineups)
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.
After this reunion, Bachman and Cummings resumed their solo work, and Kale once again resumed touring with various musicians under The Guess Who banner. A new Guess Who studio album, Lonely One with vocalist Terry Hatty was released in 1995, but 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. During the concert it began to rain, then thunder, then lightning. Through the rain Cummings kept singing (while the band crew tried to cover things in plastic), at one point Cummings acknowledging that if the audience didn't leave he wouldn't either, and he didn't until the lightning started to strike. It was a temporary pause, though, and the concert continued a short time later.
In 2001, the band received honorary doctorates at Brandon University in Brandon, Manitoba. For 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
In 2003, the band (including Bachman and Cummings) performed a well-received set 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.
While still also performing individually and with their own bands, Bachman and Cummings, backed by Toronto's Carpet Frogs, have been touring together since 2005. Having failed to win the rights to use the Guess Who name, they have adopted the moniker Bachman Cummings. Bachman stated in a CBC interview on February 7, 2005 that it was unlikely he and Cummings would ever again tour as The Guess Who.
As of 2004, Kale and Peterson, who now jointly own the franchise, tour as "The Guess Who". The band currently tours extensively, mostly in the USA.
Note that almost all of the band's early tracks, originally issued as by Chad Allan & The Reflections or Bob Ashley & The Reflections, were later re-issued on albums that were jointly credited to "Chad Allan & The Expressions"/"Guess Who?" (i.e. both group names appeared on the album cover.)
|1962|| Chad Allan & The Reflections: |
"Tribute To Buddy Holly"
|1963|| Chad Allan & The Reflections: |
|-||-||-||-||Shakin' All Over|
| Bob Ashley & The Reflections: |
|-||-||-||-||Hey Ho, What You Do to Me|
|1964|| Chad Allan & The Reflections: |
"Stop Teasing Me"
|-||-||-||-|| Shakin' All Over / |
Hey Ho, What You Do to Me
|1965|| "Shakin' All Over" |
|1||27||-||22||Shakin' All Over|
| "Tossin' and Turnin'" |
(Richie Adams/Malou Rene)
| "Hey Ho, What You Do to Me" |
(Jo Armstead/Nickolas Ashford/Valerie Simpson)
|3||-||-||125||Hey Ho, What You Do to Me|
|1966|| "Hurting Each Other" |
(Gary Geld/Peter Udell)
| "Believe Me" |
| "Clock on the Wall" |
| "And She's Mine" |
|1967|| "His Girl"|
|19||-||45||-|| Non-LP singles, |
later collected on
| "Pretty Blue Eyes"|
(Teddy Randazzo/Robert Wilding)
| "This Time Long Ago"|
(Jerry Langley/Jimmy Stewart)
| "Flying On The Ground Is Wrong"|
|1968|| "When Friends Fall Out" |
| "Of A Dropping Pin" |
|1969|| "These Eyes" |
| "Laughing" |
| "Undun" |
|1970|| "No Time" |
| "American Woman" |
(Bachman/Cummings/Garry Peterson/Jim Kale)
| "No Sugar Tonight" |
(B-side to "American Woman")
| "Hand Me Down World"|
|10||65||-||17||Share The Land|
| "Share The Land"|
|1971|| "Bus Rider" |
(B-side to "Share the Land")
| "Hang on to Your Life" |
| "Proper Stranger" |
(Australian release only)
| "Albert Flasher" |
| "Broken" |
| "Rain Dance" |
|3||55||-||19||So Long, Bannatyne|
| "Sour Suite" |
|1972|| "Life in the Bloodstream" |
| "Heartbroken Bopper" |
| "Guns, Guns, Guns" |
| "Runnin' Back to Saskatoon" |
|9||-||-||96||Live At The Paramount|
|1973|| "Follow Your Daughter Home" |
(Cummings/Donnie McDougall/Peterson/Bill Wallace/Winter)
| "Orly" |
| "Glamour Boy" |
|1974|| "Star Baby" |
| "Clap for the Wolfman" |
|1975|| "Dancin' Fool" |
| "Loves Me Like a Brother" |
| "Seems Like I Can't Live With You, But I Can't Live Without You"|
| "Roseanne" |
|58||-||-||105||Power In The Music|
| "When the Band Was Singin' 'Shakin' All Over'" |
|1976|| "Silver Bird" |
|63||-||-||-||The Way They Were|