The Guess Who

The Guess Who
The Guess Who

The Guess Who, 2008
Background information
Also known as The Silvertones
The Reflections
Chad Allan and the Expressions
Origin Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Genres Rock, blues rock, folk rock, garage rock, hard rock
Years active 1965 (1965)–1975, 1977–present
Labels Quality, Scepter, Buddah, RCA, Paradiso, Sundazed
Associated acts Bachman & Cummings, Bachman-Turner Overdrive
Jim Kale
Laurie MacKenzie
Garry Peterson
Leonard Shaw
Derek Sharp
Past members
Chad Allan
Bob Ashley
Randy Bachman
Burton Cummings
Bruce Decker
Carl Dixon
Greg Leskiw
Donnie McDougall
Domenic Troiano
Bill Wallace
Kurt Winter
Dale Russell
Terry Hatty

The Guess Who are a Canadian rock band from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Initially gaining recognition in Canada, they also found international success from the late 1960s through the mid-1970s with numerous hit singles, including "American Woman", "These Eyes" and "Share the Land". Several members of The Guess Who, notably Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman (of Bachman–Turner Overdrive), have also found considerable success outside the band.

The band was inducted into The Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1987.[1]



Early years (1960–1965)

The Guess Who started out as a local Winnipeg band formed by singer/guitarist Chad Allan in 1960 and initially called Al and the Silvertones. This was changed to Chad Allan & the Reflections in 1962, by which point the band consisted of Chad Allan (vocals/guitar), Bob Ashley (keyboards), Randy Bachman (guitars), Jim Kale (bass), and Garry Peterson (drums). 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 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 (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. 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".

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, 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,[2] 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 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)

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.

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, which would become the album Wheatfield Soul, and include 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[3] Richardson would remain the group's producer through to their dissolution in 1975.

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 Hot 100 (The Crew Cuts from Toronto had a long-running US #1 "Sh-Boom" in the summer of 1954, four years before the Hot 100).[4] The Top Five US hit "No Time" preceded "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, 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 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. 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.

Kale decided to continue on with The Guess Who from that point, initially joined by Winter, McDougall and Vance Masters (Masters had been drummer in the Winnipeg group Brother with Winter and 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 The Guess Who 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. Despite pursuing solo careers, Cummings, Bachman, Kale and Peterson reassembled for a national tour in 1985 and 1985, including some shows in the U.S.

After these reunions, 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, Liberty (also issued as 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.[5]

The Guess Who in the 2000s

On August 8, 1999, Cummings, Bachman, Peterson and Kale reunited once again, after responding to a personal request from the Premier of Manitoba, to appear at the closing ceremonies of the Pan American Games at Winnipeg Stadium. This led to a cross-Canada and US tour for the band beginning in 2000, although health problems precluded Kale's involvement. Nevertheless, he received a share of the band's earnings, and replacement Bill Wallace was paid out of other members' shares. A live album and DVD release followed the tour. Both the tour and the subsequent live releases were warmly received by fans and critics.

The band's star on Canada's Walk of Fame. Signatures, from top left clockwise: Garry Peterson, Burton Cummings, Bill Wallace, Randy Bachman and Donnie McDougall

During the 2000 concert in Winnipeg 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.[6]

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 and have toured extensively under this band name. Bachman did state 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 mostly in the USA. Cummings has a negative view of the current lineup of The Guess Who and in a 2011 concert appearance referred to the group as "that traveling circus" and advised fans to "do yourself a favor and stay home."[7]



The Silvertones

  • 1960 Chad Allan (Allan Kobel), Bob Ashley, Brian Donald, Johnny Glowa, Jim Kale, Larry Wah, Gordon Murison (band named after his Silvertone guitar)

Allan & The Silvertones

Chad Allan & The Reflections

  • 1962 Chad Allan, Bob Ashley, Randy Bachman, Jim Kale, Garry Peterson

Chad Allan & The Expressions

  • 1964 Chad Allan, Randy Bachman, Jim Kale, Bob Ashley, Garry Peterson

The Guess Who

  • 1965 Chad Allan, Randy Bachman, Jim Kale, Garry Peterson, Bob Ashley
  • 1966 Chad Allan, Randy Bachman, Burton Cummings, Jim Kale, Garry Peterson
  • 1966 Randy Bachman, Burton Cummings, Bruce Decker, Jim Kale, Garry Peterson
  • 1966 Randy Bachman, Burton Cummings, Jim Kale, Garry Peterson
  • 1970 Burton Cummings, Jim Kale, Garry Peterson, Bobby Sabellico
  • 1970 Burton Cummings, Jim Kale, Greg Leskiw, Garry Peterson, Kurt Winter
  • 1972 Burton Cummings, Jim Kale, Donnie McDougall, Garry Peterson, Kurt Winter
  • 1972 Burton Cummings, Donnie McDougall, Garry Peterson, Bill Wallace, Kurt Winter
  • 1974 Burton Cummings, Garry Peterson, Domenic Troiano, Bill Wallace (to end 10/75)
  • 1977 Jim Kale, Garry Peterson, Kurt Winter, Donnie McDougall
  • 1977 Jim Kale, Vance Masters, Kurt Winter, Donnie McDougall
  • 1978 Jim Kale, Vance Masters, Kurt Winter, Donnie McDougall, (Guess Who's Back LP)
  • 1978 Jim Kale, Vance Masters, Donnie McDougall, David Inglis, Ralph Watts
  • 1979 David Inglis, Jim Kale, Vance Masters, Donnie McDougall (All This For a Song LP)
  • 1979 Randy Bachman, Burton Cummings, Garry Peterson, Bill Wallace (one time only appearance for Burton's CBC TV special Portage & Main in March 1979)
  • 1979 Vance Masters, Donnie McDougall, Bobby Bilan, Brian Sellar, Jimmy Grabowski
  • 1981 Jim Kale, Brent DeJarlais, Dale Russell, Mike McKenna, Sonnie Bernardi (Now & Not Then LP)
  • 1981 Jim Kale, Brent DesJarlais, David Inglis, Brian Tataryn, Ken Curry
  • 1981 Jim Kale, Brent DesJarlais, Brian Tataryn, Ken Curry
  • 1983 Randy Bachman, Burton Cummings, Jim Kale, Garry Peterson
  • 1983 Jim Kale, Dale Russell, Sonnie Bernardi, Mike Hanford, Trevor Balicky
  • 1985 Jim Kale, Dale Russell, Sonnie Bernardi, Mike Hanford, Bob Fuhr
  • 1986 Jim Kale, Dale Russell, Sonnie Bernardi, Terry Reid, Kenny Carter
  • 1987 Jim Kale, Dale Russell, Sonnie Bernardi, Mike Hanford, Kenny Carter
  • 1987 Jim Kale, Garry Peterson, Dale Russell, Mike Hanford, Kenny Carter
  • 1989 Jim Kale, Garry Peterson, Dale Russell, Tom Whitnery, Kenny Carter
  • 1990 Jim Kale, Garry Peterson, Dale Russell, Kenny Carter, Leonard Shaw
  • 1991 Jim Kale, Garry Peterson, Dale Russell, Terry Hatty, Leonard Shaw
  • 1998 Jim Kale, Garry Peterson, Dale Russell, Carl Dixon, Leonard Shaw
  • 1998 Garry Peterson, Dale Russell, Carl Dixon, Leonard Shaw, Ken "Spider" Sinnaeve
  • 1999 Randy Bachman, Burton Cummings, Jim Kale, Garry Peterson (one show)
  • 2000 Dale Russell, Leonard Shaw, Carl Dixon, Ken "Spider" Sinnaeve, Charlie Cooley
  • 2000 Randy Bachman, Burton Cummings, Jim Kale, Donnie McDougall, Garry Peterson (one show)
  • 2000 Randy Bachman, Burton Cummings, Don McDougall, Garry Peterson, Bill Wallace (to end 07/31/03)
  • 2004 Bobby Bilan, Carl Dixon, Jim Kale, Garry Peterson, Leonard Shaw
  • 2006 Carl Dixon, Jim Kale, Laurie MacKenzie, Garry Peterson, Leonard Shaw.
  • 2008 Derek Sharp, Jim Kale, Laurie MacKenzie, Garry Peterson, Leonard Shaw
Year Music video Director(s) Ref
1969 "These Eyes" ???, ?????? ??? [8]
1969 "When You Touch Me" ???, ?????? ??? [8]
1969 "Laughing" ???, ?????? ??? [8]
1970 "No Time" ???, ?????? ??? [8]
1970 "American Woman" ???, ?????? ??? [8]
1970 "Share The Land" ???, ?????? ??? [8]
1970 "Hang On To Your Life" ???, ?????? ??? [8]
1971 "Albert Flasher" ???, ?????? ??? [8]
1972 "Runnin' Back to Saskatoon" ???, ?????? ??? [8]


  • 1983 Together Again live concert with interviews.
  • 2002 Running Back Thru Canada (Live with bonus tracks)
  • 2003 Molson Canadian Rocks for Toronto – Two tracks only – with the Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Rush and others.
  • 2006 First Time Around (Bachman, Cummings), live concert from a CBC broadcast.
  • 2007 Shakin' In Las Vegas (The Guess Who: Peterson, Kale), DVD of 4 new songs plus Shakin' All Over, from a live concert in Las Vegas.


  • 1995 American Woman – The Story of The Guess Who by John Einarson – Quarry Press, Ontario, Canada

See also


  1. ^ "Juno Awards". Retrieved 2011-06-06. 
  2. ^ "The Guess Who - His Girl". Chart Stats. 1967-02-18. Retrieved 2011-06-06. 
  3. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 259. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  4. ^ Adam White & Fred Bronson (1988). The Billboard Book of Hits. Billboard Books. ISBN 0-8230-8285-7. 
  5. ^ "CBC Television Special: Rockin' on the Red River". CBC Digital Archives. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2006-06-30. Retrieved 2009-10-03. 
  6. ^ "The Guess Who". Canada's Walk of Fame. Retrieved 2009-10-03. 
  7. ^ Sweeney, Joe (2011-07-10). Joyful Cummings delivers unpretentious rock gems. The Buffalo News. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i Halstead, p. 92

External links

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