The Guess Who Biography
Guess Who was Canada’s first rock superstar and most successful band in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Chad Allan, Randy Bachman, Garry Peterson, Jim Kale, Burton Cummings, Kurt Winter, and Greg Leskiw were key members.
Allan, Kale, Bachman, and Ashley created the Silvertones in the late 1950s. With drummer Peterson, they became Chad Allan & the Reflections, then the Expressions in 1965. The British Invasion-influenced ensemble gained a strong following in Winnipeg, but most Canadian radio stations refused to broadcast its songs. Their 1965 cover of Johnny Kidd and the Pirates’ “Shakin’ All Over” was broadcast to radio stations under the name “Guess Who?” to entice DJs to play a new British band. It topped the Canadian charts and reached No. 22 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, but this marketing strategy may have helped. After Allan left in 1966, keyboardist Cummings became vocalist and frontman. After a failed 1967 UK tour, the trio was Allan’s house band on CBC TV’s Let’s Go for two years. The Guess Who had many Canadian Top 40 hits from 1966 to 1968 after dropping the question mark from their moniker, but its albums sold poorly.
Producer Jack Richardson mortgaged his house to finance Wheatfield Soul (1969), which produced the million-selling “These Eyes,” a Top 10 success in Canada and the U.S. “Laughing” and “Undun” were double-sided hits on Canned Wheat (1969). American Woman (1970) made Guess Who famous. Its title single, the first by a Canadian rock group to top the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, began as a riff Bachman improvised while tuning his guitar after breaking a string during a show. The rest of the band, including Cummings, added the memorable words “American woman get away from me.” The B-side to “American Woman,” “No Sugar Tonight,” was a smash in Canada and the U.S. American Woman’s third hit was “No Time,” re-recorded from Canned Wheat. The only Guess Who album to top the Billboard Pop Albums chart was American Woman at No. 9.
Bachman departed the Guess Who in 1970 after becoming a Mormon in 1966. Brave Belt became Bachman-Turner Overdrive once he reunited with Allan. Winter—Cummings’ main songwriting partner—and Leskiw replaced Bachman. Winter’s “Hand Me Down World” and “Bus Rider,” Cummings’s title tune, and the Cummings-Winter collaboration “Hang On to Your Life” were hits on Share the Land (1970), the new lineup’s first album. So Long, Bannatyne (1971) featured “Rain Dance” and “Sour Suite.” Live at the Paramount (1972) produced the Canadian smash “Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon” and inspired Lester Bangs to declare “The Guess Who is God.”
As the band produced more, lineup changes increased. Rockin’, another 1972 album, preceded Artificial Paradise (1973), which featured the Canadian hit “Follow Your Daughter Home” but failed to equal the group’s former popularity, as did #10. (1973). Road Food (1974) produced “Clap for the Wolfman” and “Star Baby.” Domenic Troiano, a James Gang and Ronnie Hawkins guitarist, replaced Winter and McDougall and wrote Flavours and Power in the Music with Cummings (both 1975). Cummings departed the Guess Who after growing disillusioned with Troiano’s progressive rock direction. An ever-changing roster produced generally lackluster recordings in the 21st century. Bachman and Cummings reunited periodically.
Richardson produced 14 Guess Who albums in the 1960s and 1970s, 11 of which were certified gold (sales of 50,000) and five platinum (sales of 100,000) in Canada and five gold (500,000), and three platinum (one million) in the US. The Guess Who became a uniquely Canadian band with a broad style that spanned rock, pop, psychedelia, and jazz with lyrics that often referenced Canada. “The Guess Who were the lads who made it alright to be Canadian, who proved that you didn’t have to leave our shores to score big,” Canada’s Walk of Fame said in 2001. They impacted almost every Canadian performer since.” Canada Post published a band stamp in July 2013.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Was The Guess Who’S Best Selling Album?
The Guess Who’s best selling album was “American Woman”, which was released in 1970. The album peaked at number one on the Billboard 200 chart and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.
How Many No 1 Has The Guess Who’S Had?
The Guess Who has had four No. 1 hits: “These Eyes,” “Share the Land,” “No Time,” and “American Woman.” The group has also had numerous other charting singles, including “Laughing,” “Clap for the Wolfman,” “Star Baby,” and “Dancin’ Fool.
What Is The Guess Who’S Most Famous Song?
The Guess Who’s most famous song is “American Woman.” The song was released in 1970 and reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.