The Guess Who—American Woman
In honour of the Grey Cup host city, on the Music Club this weekend we feature the pride and joy of Portage and Main and everywhere within the Perimeter Highway.
Canada’s entry into the Rock and Roll sweepstakes of the 1960’s began in Winnipeg, Manitoba as four members of Manitoba’s thriving band scene joined together to form a band called Chad Allen and the Reflections, it was 1962 and from those early days would be launched one of the greatest international successes that Canada would send to the music world.
In those early days, Allen, Randy Bachman, Garry Peterson and Jim Kale would cut their teeth in the competitive world of Winnipeg music, a Petri dish of Canadian music at the time that would send another great Canadian rocker, Neil Young off to International stardom.
The Expressions became the Reflections by 1965 and a number one single would soon be heard across the nation as Shakin’ All over raced up the charts in Canada and broke into the all important American scene topping out at number 22. It was that year that also introduced a new talent to the band in Burton Cummings, an addition that would soon send the band on to Canadian domination and International success.
With Allen no longer part of the band by 1966, Burton and Cummings began doing the bulk of the writing and composing, with Burton’s distinctive vocals fronting the majority of the music the now re named Guess Who began their long march to music superstardom.
The spent a rather unsuccessful and unhappy year in England before returning to Canada and signing up with famed Music Producer Jack Richardson, who had such a feel for the band that he devoted a fair amount of his time and interest on making the band the hit they would become.
By 1968 the Guess Who were rocking’ the nation and the continent if not the world, four major Top forty songs would blast out of the transistor radios that year, These Eyes, Undun, Laughing and No Time, the late sixties were exciting times for Canada. It was the year after the Centennial and Canada was cool, the Guess Who the coolest band who were red hot when it came to record sales, radio airplay and concert appearances.
1970 was the watershed year for the band, American Woman our selected song of the night, went to number 1 in the USA and knocked the Beatles off their perch at the top of the pop charts. It was around this time that cracks began to show in the make up of the band, differences of opinion in music and social attitudes led to Randy Bachman leaving the band, to form his own Bachman Turner Overdrive, another Canadian success story with a tale for another day. Cummings would remain with the band until 1975 before leaving to launch his own solo career that topped the charts in Canada and the US well into the eighties.
The band reformed in 1999 for a special concert in Winnipeg, and they occasionally take to the road in a Bachman-Cummings Band (or is that a Cummings-Bachman Band?) motif to replay the good times and create a few new memories along the way.
But the watershed year was 1970, it was the beginning of the era of Canadian Rock, a decade that brought a huge number of Canadians to the stage, recording studio and radio play lists. The Guess Who were very much the fathers of a strong and lively Canadian Music Scene, driven to one of the greatest riffs in Canadian Music, a strong bit of lyrical poetry that not only defined the band, but perhaps the nation as well.
Artist--The Guess Who