The Guess Who

  • Rock band formed in Winnipeg Canada in 1965.
  • The origins of the band were formed in 1958, known as Allan and the Silvertones. In 1962, the name changed to Chad Allan and the Reflections. The band consisted of Chad Allan (guitar and vocals), Bob Ashley (keyboards), Randy Bachman (guitar and backing vocals), Jim Kale (bass and backing vocals) and Garry Peterson (drums and backing vocals). They released several singles in Canada, with no success.
  • In 1965, the band again changed its name, to Chad Allan & the Expressions. They released a cover of the song Shakin’ All Over. It reached #1 in Canada and #22 in the U.S. The record label credited the single to “Guess Who?” in an attempt to create a mystique about the record. After it was revealed that the band was Chad Allan & the Expressions, disc jockeys continued to refer to the group as Guess Who?, forcing them to accept this new name.
  • Band members began to come and go. Bob Ashley left and was replaced by Burton Cummings. Then, Chad Allan left, and Cummings took over the lead vocal role. The “?” in the band name was finally eliminated in 1968, and the band officially became The Guess Who.
  • They continued to release singles in Canada, with limited success. In 1967, they became the house band for a Canadian TV show called Let’s Go, a music show for teenagers. They stayed on the show for 2 years, playing hits of the day, as well as some of their own music. This gave them exposure which set up their future success.
  • Their first album as The Guess Who was released in 1969 – Wheatfield Soul. It included the single These Eyes, which peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the U.S. This was followed by a string of singles which defined the sound of The Guess Who – Laughing, Undun, No Time (one of my all time favorite songs), American Woman, No Sugar Tonight, Hand Me Down World, Share the Land. These were featured singles on albums released in 1969 and 1970. Highlighting this sound were the rocking vocals of Cummings – he is one of my favorite vocalists of all time.
  • Bachman left the group in 1970 due to differences with Cummings (and largely due to Bachman’s conversion to Mormonism). Bachman returned to Canada, and formed a band that eventually became Bachman-Turner Overdrive. He was replaced by two guitarists – Kurt Winter and Greg Leskiw, and their success continued.
  • Albums released in 1971, 1972 and 1973 were not as successful. In 1974, they released their last hit single – Clap For the Wolfman reached #6 on the Hot 100 chart. Cummings was unhappy with the direction of the band, and he left in 1975 – with that, the band broke up.
  • In 1977, the group was asked to get back together. Cummings and Bachman showed no interest. Bassist Jim Kale and others performed a single show as The Guess Who. Kale then discovered that the name The Guess Who was never registered – he subsequently did that, and he owns control of the band today. The band released several albums that were not successful, though they were popular on tour, playing their hits from the late 60s and early 70s. At various times, Cummings and Bachman rejoined for performances. By 2004, they permanently ended their association with the band. The band actively tours today.
  • They released 16 studio albums, 9 live albums, and numerous compilation albums – their Best of the Guess Who album from 1971 peaked at #12 on the Billboard 100 chart.
  • The Guess Who, under Burton Cummings’ leadership, had a great rock sound. I loved to sing along with them, especially the harmonies. Here’s a weird early 70s TV performance of my favorite Guess Who song, No Time – love Bachman’s guitar work, and Cummings’ vocals here.

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