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January 11, 2024 101 mins

We discuss the fake Guess Who, Burton's history and what he's up to now.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:08):
Welcome, welcome, Welcome back to the Bob Left Sets podcast.
My guest today is Burton Cummings. Burton, tell me all
about this Guess Who lawsuit. Well, let's put it this way.
There are guys out there that have had nothing to

do with the records. They're a group of hired musicians.
They go on stage and their shows are marketed as
though they are the ones that made the songs, and
they're not. Here's the thing. Once in a while, Peterson
might be there, but having one guy from the original

group does not. They can't market themselves as the guests who.
They have to start marketing themselves as a cover band.
It's as simple as that.

Speaker 2 (01:05):
Okay, let's go back to the beginning. Who owns the
name today? I'm not sure.

Speaker 1 (01:16):
Who. As far as who owns the name, welly, you
mean these things are all up in the air because
we don't believe that it was correctly copyrighted in the
first place. We're not We're not really sure. I mean,
they've been out there. It's a cover band out there
calling themselves the Guess Who. Okay, let's just back up.

They are Bob. They use recordings of Bachman and myself
the original they use the original guess Who Records to
promote their shows and they can't do that. That's a
miss misrepresentation.

Speaker 2 (01:55):
Well, I want to get a little deeper into it,
but just want to understand. And I don't know these
guys whatsoever, but I can just see online they say
that they registered the name guests Who in seventy seven.
And you said that was okay? Is that true?

Speaker 1 (02:15):
We never said it was okay for them to copyright
the name or register the name. That was never ever said.
What happened was Cale phoned Backman and me in Los Angeles.
We were working on one of our albums and Cale
phoned and he had Kurt Winter, one of the original

guys from the Big Records. He had Kurt Winter and
Donnie McDougall and himself, and he said, can we go
out and use the name? You know? We thought, okay, temporarily, sure,
go ahead, and you've got Kurt there, You've got Donnie
McDougall there. It was a kind of a representation at

that point. Unce Cale heard that. The first thing he got,
the first thing he did was get rid of those
guys and hire, you know, and just just hire other guys,
it's now basically, Bob. It's a cover band using the
real recordings to dupe the audiences, and people all over

the place are thinking that I'm going to be there,
that Bachman is going to be there. They think it's
the old band. It's not.

Speaker 2 (03:29):
Okay, we'll get to that point. Did they ever register
in Canada or America that they own the name?

Speaker 1 (03:38):
I'm not sure their mark started in seventy seven. I
think so they can. They can be the guests who
after nineteen seventy seven and use all those songs. But
they've tried to record some new things. But what they're doing, Bob,
is they're using the big hit records to promote the

cover band. I get it. I'm totally with you. I
find it offensive too. How long have they been here? Listen,
let me tell you one more thing, Bob. But their
most recent the most recent concert announcement described the band
as having more hits than anyone can count, record sales
well into the multimillions, and a group that's connected with

the masses for decades, a virtual hit parade spanning fourteen
top forty hits. This is not the cover band that
is showing up. Believe me, how long have they been
doing it? Oh, for a long time. It's been going
on for years. But let me tell you this, Bob.

When the COVID layoff happened, when things started moving back
again to normal where shows were starting to be done
and crowd were allowed to get together, they really stepped
up their advertising. It's fake advertising. You just have to

look at the streaming platforms like Spotify and iTunes and
see how they've hijacked the landing pages, removing the pictures
of the real guess who and the ones that are
on the recordings. They're putting their own pictures up over
our original. That's really heinous, but just a little bit slower.

So they were going out as the guests who prior
to COVID, but it was a minor operation and you
figured it wasn't worth the effort. Is that what was
going on? Yeah, and then when COVID happened, of course,
everybody had a two year layoff, and then we all
started trying to get back into the picture, and that's

when they really stepped up. They really stepped up their
fake advertise. Bob I was sent a video from a
news station in Evansville, Indiana, showing a meet and greet
the Cover Band did ahead of their recent show. Not

one original member was there, not even Peterson. They were
meeting the fans and taking accolades for the songs. I
posted it on my social media so people could see
exactly what was going on. They go to meet and
greets and hold up albums of the old band. Okay,

the media was there. The media was there, rubber stamping
them as the guests who and fans. Okay.

Speaker 2 (06:40):
So after COVID there's a two year layoff, they start
all this hype advertising. At what point do you decide
this is enough and you want to take action.

Speaker 1 (06:54):
Well, we saw all kinds of fake advertising online and
all these streaming platforms. What they have done. They've gone
in and hijacked all our songs and they're putting pictures
of the cover band up where on these streaming platforms.
You know, I'm I'm appalled at all of this. And

finally you say to yourself, Okay, enough is enough. Randy
Bachman has kids asking him is he going to be
in Evansville, Indiana or this? And that they're using the real,
real original recordings of American Woman, these eyes laughing. No
time Clap for the wolf Man, all those songs that

this cover band had nothing to do with.

Speaker 2 (07:40):
Okay, now, it's just not right. If one goes to
Spotify right now, you do see a picture of the
cover band. Yes, have you made an effort to change
that on streaming platforms?

Speaker 1 (07:53):
Oh? Yes, yes we've We've made an effort to change
everything on the streaming platform, but it's so slow to
get changed. Have they agreed to change it? They have
never agreed to change it. I'm talking about Spotify itself,
the band. I understand the fake band. That's a separate thing.
But the streaming outlets themselves, Spotified, Amazon, Apple, Have they said,

you're right, let's put up the right pictures. Well, I
don't know who controls the streaming. I guess they do.
I'm not sure where the streaming How how we get
that worked out, Bob. The streaming is a whole other animal.

I'm not sure who controls the streaming. But we're going
to get to the bottom of this. Definitely. I think
the fake band took control of the streaming, and I
don't know where we're investigating that right now. So in
this I own listen, I published the songs I own
the songs, published the songs and wrote them, and I

own the songs. How can these guys put their picture
up over my music?

Speaker 2 (09:08):
So in the spring you reached out to them. What
do you do in the spring? And what happened there.

Speaker 1 (09:15):
This spring? We uh, we finally got some lawyers together
and and we're we're moving ahead as best we can.
We've got lawyers investigating receive Randy Bachman and I were
we were scheduled to do a show in Akron, Ohio

and me and Randy. It was canceled because of COVID
A few months afterwards. The then you booked the cover
band in and you can release You can read the
backlash on ticket Master. So many people complained they were
buying tickets to see Randy and me? So what is

the cover band saying? Now?

Speaker 2 (10:04):
Are they saying you're right? Are they continuing to book gigs?

Speaker 1 (10:07):
What are they doing? I think they're trying to continue
to play. We we've seen a couple of cancelations because
I don't think that the promoters really want to get
into this battle. You know, there's a lawsuit now, and
I think in a lot of places, uh, you know,

we can we can investigate this for a while, and
and and and see what the lawyers say. But they cannot.
I think they're threatening to charge me with defamation for
for speaking out about this. They're they're they're starting to
say I'm defaming the cover band. I mean, where does

where does nonsense stop and reality start? Bob?

Speaker 2 (11:03):
So if you could snap your fingers right now and
have happen what you want to have happen, what would
that be?

Speaker 1 (11:11):
Here's the thing. They can claim that they're a cover band.
They have to start saying they're a Guess Who tribute
or a Guess Who cover band. They're the only songs
they're using for bait for ticket sales are the one
from the original recordings because they have not had any

success of their own. It's a cover band, it's a
bar band using the name the Guess Who. Now, it's
just it's deceptive advertising from day one.

Speaker 2 (11:47):
I completely agree with you just getting into the machinations
of this. The two members were in the band who
started this, you know, cover tribute band. What are they
say saying in response to everything you're saying.

Speaker 1 (12:05):
Well, we've had no response from Jim Cale. We don't know.
He's very very hard to get a hold of Peterson.
He just says, well, we're keeping the uh, we're keeping
the legacy alive. And Peterson is starting now, I think,

to threaten me for speaking out about this, and he's
not even there most of the time. It's five nobody's
that had nothing to do with the records. And what
is he threatening you with? I don't know what. I'm
not sure what his threats are. I guess the defamation

is one of them. How can we be defaming a
band that's a fake band to begin with? Have you
reached out.

Speaker 2 (12:55):
To promoters across the country and world saying don't book
this band.

Speaker 1 (13:02):
We're trying to make them all aware of I think
a lot of people know about the lawsuit now, and
a lot of promoters don't want to get involved. You know,
there's a legal action being taken now, and now these
guys are complaining that we're calling them a cover band.

You know. Let me tell you one disgusting bit of information.
We did a Guess Who reunion the real band with
Backman and me and Donnie McDougall and Bill Wallace. It
was actually the real band and we were touring. We
got to Philadelphia. This was around two thousand, I guess,

or maybe a little later. We got to Philadelphia and
I was handed a Live at the Paramount album Guess
Who Live at the Paramount, and this guy wanted me
to sign it. One of the fans wanted me to
sign it. It's a double album. When you open it up,
there's individual pictures of each of us inside. I opened

the album up, I went to sign my picture and
it was already signed by Cale's lead singer at the time,
named Terry Hattie. I went to sign my own picture
and it was signed by Terry Hattie, who had had
nothing to do with the Guess Who records. That broke
my heart and it made me angry. Well, the guys

signing my picture, and I know, I know that Cale
and Peterson have sanctioned that, because Cale probably even encouraged it.
He probably said, look, you're the singer signed the singer's picture.

Speaker 2 (14:44):
To the degree, you know, and you weren't a band
with these guys one time. Why are they doing this?

Speaker 1 (14:53):
Well, I would imagine it's just cash, you know, cash grab.
Cale and Peterson never wrote any of the big songs.
Randy and I and Kurt Kurt wrote some of the
big songs and Kurt and I together. But there it's

a cash grab, Bob, It's totally a cash grab. They
are scrambling for every dollar they can get. And now
that they know there's gonna be trouble, I don't know
how they're gonna get booked because more and more people
are finding out that it's a fake band, it's a
cover band. And now Peterson is all angry. He's angry

and threatening me and Bachman. I guess he's threatening to
sue me for defamation for saying they're a cover band. Goodness, gracious,
what are you supposed to call them? Okay, since you
file the lawsuit.

Speaker 2 (15:53):
What's been happening for you? Have you been hearing from
the press, You've been hearing from fans? Well, it's very positive.
People are on our side. They don't want to go
and see They think they're going to see the guys
that did American Woman and These Eyes and the big
big songs, Share the Land and clap for the Wolf Man.

Speaker 1 (16:13):
They're not. They're not going to see those guys. And
what's happening now is a lot of the promoters don't
want to have anything to do with this. I think
there's a backlash. This has a they don't own the songs,
they didn't write the songs, they don't publish them, they
don't own them, and they have stolen the resume of

those of us who did.

Speaker 2 (16:37):
Do you at this late date, if you win the lawsuit,
do you want to go out under the name Guess who?

Speaker 1 (16:46):
No? I don't think so. I think it's you know what.
I think it's who knows? You never could tell. Randy
Bachman and I might have plans in the future, but
Randy and I each have a solo career. So it's
not so much Bob getting the name for ourselves. It's

stopping them parading around as if they're the original band.
They are a cover band and nothing more. Okay, I
think we've established this and you're obviously upset, as anybody
deservedly would be. What's going on with you right now

other than the lawsuit? Well, I'm well into a new album.
I've had the same band now for many, many years.
It's a tight band. It's great. I've got the best
songs I've had in years, where about two thirds of
way finished, two thirds of the way finished on a

brand new album. I'm very excited about it, and now
that all this is coming to light, I'm getting the
attention of my fans again that I've had all along.
And also I have a second poetry book that was
just published, so I have two books of poetry out now.

I have some gigs coming up. I'm doing a show
in Hawaii, I think within about a month, and I'm
doing another show in California.

Speaker 3 (18:19):
And we're re releasing some of the original albums, so
we'll see, you know, We're trying to get the public
aware of the fact that this is a bar band,
a cover band using the recordings of the real guess who.

Speaker 1 (18:40):
And once the public knows for sure, I don't think
there'll be that many shows anymore for them. They're they're
masquerading as the guys that made the records, and they're
not well.

Speaker 2 (18:55):
As I say, certainly emotionally, I have no idea what
the legality of all these deep issues is. But emotionally
your one hundred percent right. This has happened before. I
think you will certainly devastate their business, if not completely
eradicate it. But at this point in your life, what
keeps you motivated to write and continue to make new music?

Speaker 1 (19:19):
Well, Bob It's what I've always done. You know, I've
been recording, making records since I was sixteen years old.
I'm seventy five now, well over fifty years in the business.
It's what I do. And I still have some great
new songs. The people that are working on my new
album and the people that have heard the song so far,

I think it's the best songs I've written in years.
So that's what I hope. I just hope to get
the focus back on me. I'm the real guy that
sang and wrote all these records. You know. We can't
have these guys anymore going out and calling themselves the
guests who without saying it's a tribute or a cover

band's that's my motivation. So you mentioned.

Speaker 2 (20:13):
Earlier that you own the songs. You you still own
the songs?

Speaker 1 (20:19):
Oh yes, yes, Silele Music has all the publishing and
that's your company. That's my Yes, Chileele Music is my
company and it owns all the songs, and these guys
have hijacked everything.

Speaker 2 (20:33):
So in this craziness of the last couple of years,
were people and paying all this money for songs. Has
anybody approached you to buy your songs?

Speaker 1 (20:43):
No? I haven't thought about selling my songs, really selling
the catalog. I haven't really thought about it too much.
The here's the problem. They have used the songs to
promote their shows for years without the appropriate licenses. So

they just give me the middle finger when we try
and get take ahead on some of that stuff. They
basically tell us to fo You know, well, as I said.

Speaker 2 (21:13):
I think we've we've really nailed that down. But you know,
you started in the sixties when most people signed away
the publishing. How are you smart enough to keep the publishing?

Speaker 1 (21:25):
Back then, we didn't have it off the bat our
producer Jack Richardson had off the bat But then I,
way way later, I went to lawyers and I managed
to get my songs. I managed to get the guess
who songs and now shel Aley Music has had them
for years. But it was a fight. It was a fight, Bob,

it was It was a fight.

Speaker 2 (21:48):
So did the fight Was that more about rights or
did you have to buy them back?

Speaker 1 (21:54):
No, it was more about rights, and it was about
Nimbus nine I think going under and Nimbus nine, I believe,
went bankrupt and they had owned the songs at the time,
and everything went up on the chopping block, including their
recording studio, and I was just you know, listen, I

came along and said, look, I'm going to get my
songs back. And I got them back and I have
owned the songs ever since.

Speaker 2 (22:23):
So you know, there's a lot of money in owning songs.
Oh yes, how's the income from all those songs? Does
that leave you comfortable?

Speaker 1 (22:31):
Well, it's good. I mean it pays my bills. You know.
I don't count on it totally for everything. I still
like to go out and work. I do live shows
all the time. Cover band limits my shows with the

promoters because they fulfill the need for the guess who
in the United States, they can hire them cheaper than
they can hire me. They're a cover band, basically cashing
in on million selling records they had nothing to do with.

Speaker 2 (23:11):
Okay, So where do you live now?

Speaker 1 (23:14):
I live in Moosejaw, Saskatchewan, the prairies of Canada. It's
beautiful and we're having a lovely autumn. There's no snow yet,
so it's almost December and there's no snow.

Speaker 2 (23:27):
Most people in America in the United States are ignorant
as to the landscape of Canada, where is Moosejaw. Mousjaw
is in Saskatchewan. It's right in the center of the country.
It's our province is Saskatchewan, and we are between the
provinces of Alberta and Manitoba. It's very central. It's right

in the center of the country.

Speaker 1 (23:51):
How many people live in Moosejaw About thirty thousand and
thirty five thousand. It's small. I like it.

Speaker 2 (24:00):
And then how far to the next biggest city.

Speaker 1 (24:03):
Well, Regina is about half an hour away, and it's
about half a million, I guess.

Speaker 2 (24:11):
And what do you like so much about living there?

Speaker 1 (24:16):
I missed, you know, I lived in la for years
and years. What I missed was the changing of the seasons.
If you're born and raised in the Canadian prairies, there
are four distinct seasons. I missed that in California. The
first year I was there, I saw Christmas lights on
palm trees and it was a little strange for me.

But I do you know, I'm a Canadian prairie boy
basically at heart, and I feel comfortable with the four
changing seasons. So I like it here very much.

Speaker 2 (24:50):
What a people in the United States not understand about Canada.

Speaker 1 (24:55):
Well, you know, I think a mayor Ferkans know more
about Canada than they ever have before because of the Internet.
I believe we've lived in the shadow of the United
States for so long. So we are very much influenced
here by television from the States, by movies from the States,

by music from the States, the radio. We're basically very
very much influenced by the United States. And I think
Canada is I mean, it's it's much smaller. You know,
the population in Canada is only about thirty million, thirty

five million. There are more people than that in California alone,
So it's hard for Americans to understand how big Canada
is with so few people.

Speaker 2 (25:50):
So where did you grow up?

Speaker 1 (25:52):
I grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, right in the Prairies.

Speaker 2 (25:57):
So you're growing up in the fifties, you know, needless
to say, that's pre internet, it's preed color television. What's
it like growing up in Winnipeg in the fifties. I
lived alone with my mother and grandmother. My father was
no good and he left when I was about a
year old. I grew up with my mother and grandmother

in Winnipeg in the fifties and let me tell you, Bob,
we never locked the door at night. It was like
leave it to beaver with wheat fields. It was safe.
There was no I mean, there's always a little bit
of crime, but it was.

Speaker 1 (26:32):
Very, very safe and wholesome. And I do remember life
before television. I remember listening to the listening to the
football and baseball games on the radio, and I was
glued to the radio as a kid because I loved

the music and what music was that as a kid well,
as a kid, I loved Fatz Domino, of course early Elvis,
but even before that, my mother had seventy eights, so
before I ever went to kindergarten or grade one, I
was listening to my mother's records of Bing Crosby, Dinah Shore, Guy, Lombardo,

Glenn Miller. I loved music from the time I was
old enough to crank up our old seventy eight record player,
and I knew very early the magic of records, recordings
freeze time. I knew when I was a little kid
that when that record finished, you could pick up that

needle and put it back to the beginning and hear
the same thing over again. And I always wanted to
make records when I was a tiny kid.

Speaker 2 (27:47):
And when did you pick up an instrument?

Speaker 1 (27:51):
My mother started me on piano when I was five,
and I took lessons till I was about fourteen or fifteen.
Never got my teachers degree, but the piano lessons taught
me the mathematics of music, which made me want to
be a writer. And then it led me to learning
how to play a little bit of guitar, a little

bit of saxophone, a little bit of flute. The piano
was great for learning other instruments.

Speaker 2 (28:18):
Tell us about the mathematics of music.

Speaker 1 (28:22):
Well, the mathematics. I mean that I learned about the
mathematics of music from taking the lessons. So you have
to learn about one, three, five, four, nine, a flat thirteen,
a flat seven. You have to learn all that stuff
in order to shape your chords, and learning about the

chordal frequencies helped me as a songwriter. Learning the mathematics
of music was the greatest thing I ever did.

Speaker 2 (28:50):
And if I put a piece in front of you today,
how's your sight reading today?

Speaker 1 (28:55):
Oh no, no, Bob, I was never I was never
a good site reader. I've seen guys sit down and
read rochmaninoff and Beethoven. I can't do that. I could
read a little bit when I was still taking lessons,
but that's something you're either gifted with that or you're not.
And I was never gifted with the good site reading.

I just couldn't do it.

Speaker 2 (29:17):
So you're taking piano lessons. What's going on in school?
You're a good student, bad student? You have friends, don't
have friends.

Speaker 1 (29:25):
Well, I was a fairly good student up until I
got into a band. I got into my first band
when I was thirteen, just turning fourteen, and after that,
that's all I could think about. I was obsessed with
being in a band. And I was in a band
before the Beatles hit. And then once I was in
a band and the Beatles hit, then all came that

British came, all that British invasion music, the great music
from England, the Beatles, the Stones, the Kinks, the Zombies,
the Dave Clark Five, Billy Jay Kramer and the Dakota's
Jerry and the Pacemakers. I was singing all those songs
by the time I was fourteen or fifteen, and I

was obsessed with making it. Wanted to make it in
a band. So when you were before the Beatles. What
kind of music was your band playing? All We were
doing stuff by Richie Allens. I loved Richie Allens. We
did some Buddy Holly stuff. We did walk right In
by the rooftop singers. We did some Gene Pitney songs,

we did some Bobby v songs, all that stuff that
came before the British invasion. We were right in on that.

Speaker 2 (30:38):
And how did you become aware of the Beatles?

Speaker 1 (30:43):
I think it just exploded in the world, you know.
I think what really made the world more of it,
more aware of the Beatles than anything, was that night
they appeared on Ed Sullivan for the first time, and
then everybody knew. After that, it was all we talked

about at school. It was the topic of conversation with
every kid I knew at school about the Beatles. The Beatles,
the Beatles, the Beatles. They changed everything for musicians.

Speaker 2 (31:16):
And being a pianist when you were playing in these bands,
did you just sing? Did you have a musical instrument?

Speaker 1 (31:25):
What did you do? I stood up and played the
upright pianos that were in all the churches and schools
and community clubs. I stood up and played piano, and
then I bought a cheap sax, a cheap Sea Melody sax,
and I learned how to play sacks. Now we were
trying to do things like Johnny and the Hurricanes and

the Champs and stuff like that. And then after a
while somebody told me that the fingering was the same
on the flute. So I picked up a flute and
learned how to play flute. A little bit of guitar,
but basically I was a pianist, and the piano helped
me with my music. You know, piano is a great

It's a great foundational instrument for learning other instruments and
for learning how to write write songs.

Speaker 2 (32:17):
Okay, after the Beatles comes the Dave Clark five and
Mike Smith is playing an organ that was a big deal.
Did that affect you? Inspire you say, hey, I want
to get a portable organ like that.

Speaker 1 (32:31):
Not really, because it was a Farfisa organ and it
was never the It was never a big Hammon B
three with that rich organ tone. I always wish that
Mike Smith had played more piano. I liked his piano playing,
but I never liked that far Fisa organ all that much.
But I will tell you this, I loved the Dave

Clark five and I loved Mike Smith as a vocalist.
I thought he was fantastic, the power and the guts
that his vocals had, and they wrote. They wrote some
great songs. I mean, glad all over and because tremendous
stuff anyway you want it, bits and pieces. Those were

big records. Absolutely.

Speaker 2 (33:15):
Now when did you realize you could sing?

Speaker 1 (33:18):
Well? I here's the thing I was. My mother got
me into the church choir. I was raised Anglican, and
I went to an Anglican church in North End, Winnipeg,
and I ended up in the church choir for three years.
That was pretty good vocal training. And then when I
got to grade ten at Saint John's High, they were

doing Trial by Jury by Gilbert and Sullivan. I auditioned
for the male lead tenor role and got it. So
I got the lead role in Trial by Jury. And
then the following year they were doing HMS Pinafore. I
auditioned again and I got the lead tenor role in

HMS Pinafore. So those two lead roles were really huge
in making me comfortable performing in front of people. I
was already in a band, the Devrons, my first band.
But that was real vocal training, those two operettas, and
they were year long projects. We didn't do the operettas

in front of the people until May, but we started
rehearsing around October, so they were year long projects. And
that was basically between the church choir and the two operettas.
That was the real vocal training that I had. And
you finished high school. Never did finish, Bob. I got

halfway through grade eleven and the Devrons were starting to
take off locally in Winnipeg, and I just one day,
I just said, I'm going to devote the rest of
my life to music. I was seventeen when I left
high school, and I've never regretted it because because of

the music career.

Speaker 2 (35:18):
Okay, you were a singer, you were the lead in
the play the Beatles hit. I have to think you
were a pretty popular guy.

Speaker 1 (35:31):
Well, I will tell you this, and I'm not trying
to toot my own horn, but we had fans in
Winnipeg that were just incredible fans. They had a network
of people in their fan club, They had cards printed,
they came and took pictures of us endlessly. We were

treated like big stars. We didn't even have any records
out yet, but we were treated like we could have
been treated like one of the group from Liverpool. It
was amazing. They came and stole They came and stole
a bird bath out of my backyard one time. They
also came and stole the numbers off the front of

our house one time. My mother was furious, but she
kind of laughed that she thought it was part of
being popular. We were very popular as teenagers.

Speaker 2 (36:22):
And why was it called the Devrons.

Speaker 1 (36:25):
Well, that was one of the guys in the band
had that name. It was nothing to do with me.
I just they were already an instrumental band. And one
of my best friends from school was in the band,
and I went with him to practice one day and
I just kept saying, you guys, do you ever think
about getting a singer? Hey, you guys want to try

a couple of vocal Hey, you guys ever think of
getting a singer? And eventually I kind of weaseled my
way into the band.

Speaker 2 (36:53):
And the Devrons did they just play in Winnipeg or
did they go out from there?

Speaker 1 (36:59):
Well, we played a little bit around Manitoba, just around Winnipeg,
and maybe a little bit around Manitoba, but we never
we never hit it nationally. We did cut two records
in late sixty five. We cut two records. They were
only ever played in Winnipeg. But we were thrilled to
have records on the radio. And were you making any money?

Not really, I mean not money that you would speak of,
but we were bringing home decent salaries every week at
some point in the Devrons, we were probably making more
than our parents were because none of us was from money,
but we were bringing in, you know, a couple hundred

dollars a week each in the in the as teenagers
way back in the sixties. That was a lot of money.
So what was the dream at that point? I guess
the big dream for any band at that point was
to make it like the Beatles. You know, the Beatles
were the idols of everyone in bands. I guess the

dream was to have, you know, to be in the
magazines and have your pictures circulated everywhere, and be on
the radio and have million selling records. We wanted to
have gold records. So you're in the Devrons, you cut
a couple of records to get played in Winnipeg. Are
you saying this is gonna go. Are you saying, wait

a second, this is not the right thing for me. Well,
I was very happy in the Devrons up to a point,
and then I got a magical phone call. I was
still seventeen years old. Bob and the Guests who phoned
me and asked me if I would like to be
in the band. They were already successful with a record

called Shaken all Over, which had hit in the States,
and at that point they were doing fairly well in Canada.
So when I was asked to join, I was only
seventeen years old. I said yes, in spite of the
fact that it was very tough on the other guys
in the Devrons. A chance like that's only comes maybe

once in a lifetime. So I said yes. And I
was seventeen, and I knew I was going into the
Guess Who. Why did they want you? Well, we had
all done a show together, the Devrons, the Guess Who,

opening for Jerry and the Pacemakers in nineteen sixty five
in Winnipeg, and we were, you know, the Devrons, we
were still teenagers. This was at the height of the
British invasion. Nineteen sixty five. Jerry and the Pacemakers come
to Winnipeg, all the way from Liverpool. They had inch

thick guard ropes up to keep the crowds back from
swarming the stage. It was a huge night. Vrons went
on first. There were twenty thousand people there. The guess
who were next? The guess who saw me that night,
And they liked the way I performed in front of
a big crowd. Was the biggest crowd that we had

ever played in front of. They liked the way I sang,
and a few months later they decided to ask me
into the band. And what were you going to do
in the band? What did they envision your roles being? Well?
At that point, Bob Chad Allen was still in the band,
the lead singer that had sung Shaken all Over, and

he was their main singer. I was asked to join
because their piano player had quit and gone back to university.
I was asked to join basically as a piano player
and background singer and harmony singer. And when I first joined,
Chad was still there and I was only singing about

three songs a night, but they liked my strong voice.
They that I could scream like Eric Burden and Paul McCartney,
and we were. You know, we were still doing the
songs from the Hit Parade at that time. We didn't
have our own hit records yet. So they liked my
singing and they thought I was young and energetic, and

I guess I filled the bill at the time. Okay,
you're seventeen.

Speaker 2 (41:20):
Years old during the Devrons who were just playing in
Manitoba Winnipeg area. The Guests who was a national act.
So then you're going on the road and going across
country at age seventeen.

Speaker 1 (41:35):
Yeah, I, uh, well, didn't really go across the country yet,
but when I had I turned eighteen. And then we
left for that first tour nineteen sixty six, and it
wasn't really a big tour. It was mostly we played
in the province of Saskatchewan. We played every single night,

We did four hours a night. I was doing all
the singing. By this time, Chad Allan had left and
I was doing all the singing before we go. Why
did Chad Allan leave? Chad Alan left to go back
to university and he had a trouble being in front
of crowds. And let me tell you this, if you
have a trouble being in in front of crowds, don't

go into show business. You know that's the last place
you should go. But anyway, Chad Allan left and that
left me as the lead singer and piano player. Okay,
you're the lead singer piano player playing all around Saskatchewan. Yes,
what happens next? Well, we were going broke. We went

to England to try and sneak in through the back door.
Nineteen sixty seven. We went to England, the whole thing
fell apart. We were supposed to have a tour and
a recording contract. Our manager wasn't really looking after us.
We get over there, there's no tour, there's no recording contract.
We were broke. We barely had enough money to come

back to Canada. We get back to Canada. We're broke,
we're almost breaking up. And then CBC Television offers us
a weekly, a weekly show. So we did weekly television
for two years and that saved the band, and it
paid our living expenses and our paid for our guitars

and amps, and we kind of got out of debt
because of the television show.

Speaker 2 (43:25):
Okay, so what was the television show and what did
you exactly do on the television show? Well, we did
the songs of the Hit Parade every week for two years.
We did almost eighty television shows in two years, all
in local CBC studio Winnipeg, and what we were doing

was highlighting the songs from the Hit Parade every week
and we had to learn and it was tremendous for
our musical abilities because we had to learn ten or
eleven new songs every single week for almost two years.
So we learned to play all different styles and genres.

And for me as a singer, it was great because
I was imitating all the singers like Paul Jones from
Manfred Mann, and Paul McCartney and John Lennon and Mick
Jagger and Billy J. Kramer and Jerry Marsden from Jerry
in the Pacemakers. I was whenever we would do him
Marvin Gay, I would imitate. I would imitate Stevie Wonder,

whatever songs we did, I imitated the singer and that
helped me with the vocal style.

Speaker 1 (44:33):
Believe me. And this was a national show, Yes it was,
and we we we were getting fan mail from right
from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island, right across Canada. And the
whole show was the guess who playing it was us
and that Chad. Now weird strangely enough, Chad Allen ended

up being the host of the show the first year,
so it was kind of like he was he was
kind of like back in the band for half an
hour a week. But that didn't that didn't really last.
What what happened was, here's here's the magic moment for me.

We were doing all kinds of shows, shows about what
was on the hit Parade, and our producer Larry Brown
at the time, our producer said, listen, I understand you
and Randy are writing some songs. Why don't you You've
got a national showcase here. Why don't you do a

couple of your original songs on one of the shows
and we'll see what happens. So one of those songs
that we did was these Eyes. And ironically, Jack Richardson,
who ended up being the producer of the guess who
he was watching the show that day. He believed so
much in the song that he contact at us and

put the wheels in motion to take us to New
York to record our first album, Wheatfield Soul.

Speaker 2 (46:09):
Okay, a couple of things you're playing on the show
or you're touring to or just playing on the show.
Not much touring, because once we're on the shows, it
takes a whole week to get the next show together.
We didn't tour much during the season, but when summer came,
when the season ended, we would tour in the summer.

Speaker 1 (46:32):
Yes, okay, you're the front man of like being this
on television every week. Yes, you have to be nationally famous.
Well I was put it this way. I was recognized
an awful lot on the street. You can't be on
television every week for two years and be anonymous. I

was recognized an awful lot.

Speaker 2 (46:55):
Okay, But there were a lot of things going on
that young people were not a we're of the Beatles,
were smoking marijuana, ultimately taking LSD. All these acts had
a lot of sexual peccadillos.

Speaker 1 (47:09):
Was it like that for you? Well, not in the
early days, not on the television days, but once we
started touring, we were like any other band with big records.
There were always groupies around. There were always girls chasing us,
and we became kind of like jewelry, you know. We

though they could brag to their friends that that they
had been to a party with us or whatever. But
it's no different than any other band that was successful
in the hippie days. How did you write These Eyes? Well,
Randy had part of it. And the strange thing is,

Randy had that piano intro boom boom, dum boom boom,
and he played that for me and I thought, my goodness,
that's that's very clever for a guitar player to come
up with that. But he wanted to call it these Arms,
and I said, nah, let's call it These Eyes. And
then I came up with pretty well all the lyrics

after that, and I came up with that bridge and
these are They've seen a lot of love, but they're
never going to see another one like I had with You,
which which kind of like an emotional part of the record.
But Randy and I had pieces and one morning I
was still, you know how long ago it was, I
was still living at home with my mother and grandmother,

and Randy came over to our house one Saturday morning
and he started playing that piano riff and I started singing,
and about an hour and a half later, the song
was finished and it changed our lives forever. How did
you come up with the lyrics? Oh, I'm I'm the
lyric guy. Usually I've I've always written lyrics. I've written

poetry since I was in school. I just I banged
out the lyrics pretty quickly, to tell you the truth,
and it was finished. Is that how you normally write
lyrics pretty quickly? Yeah? I don't. Actually, As far as
writing songs in general, I don't stress over it too much.

If it doesn't happen within the first half hour of
forty five minutes, I'll just throw it away and go
to something else. I don't. Some people will work for
weeks on a song. I've never been one of those people.
I just when it hits me, I run to a
keyboard and I write. And if it doesn't hit me,

I don't find force it. I really don't.

Speaker 2 (49:46):
Okay, you go to New York with Jack Richerson to
make a record an album? Actually, how does that go?

Speaker 1 (49:53):
Well, here's an interesting thing too, that nobody really knows.
We didn't have a record deal. Jack came up with
the money to produce the record himself. Somehow. There's a
rumor going around that he mortgaged his house to do it.
I don't know if that's true. And Jack's gone now
and his wife is gone, so we can never really

ask them, but it made a great publicity story anyway
that he mortgaged his house to take us. But he did.
He somehow came up with the money. We had no money,
and he flew us to New York, put us up
in hotels, and took us to A and R studios.
And believe it or not, the engineer on those sessions

was Phil Ramone, who went on to be a monstrous
producer engineer himself, but he was the engineer. Jack Richman
was the producer. We did the whole album, which included
these Eyes, the whole album in about five or six
or seven days, and that was it. And that was
my big experience in recording in New York. I think

I was still twenty. I couldn't even legally have a
beer yet, but we were recording a big record in
New York City. I was thrilled. I was a little kid,
a little kid from the North end of Winnipeg making
a record in New York City. How could you not
be thrilled?

Speaker 2 (51:16):
Okay, the process was not instantaneous. You finished the record,
what happened? You flew home to win a bag? How
long until Jack made a deal and the record came out.

Speaker 1 (51:27):
Well. He went around to many different companies and we
were turned down by a lot of companies. Finally he
got to someone at RCA and OURCA heard These Eyes
and they said that's a hit record. We want this band.
So they signed us to TINKA two or three, two
or three album deal. Anyway, we had our recording contract.

We were OURCA recording artists. Then These Eyes took off
like crazy. And then the vice president of at the time,
he was ahead of A and R, A guy named
Don Burkheimer, came to Randy and me because he knew
Randy and I had written These Eyes, and he said,
please give us another one like These Eyes. Well, Bob,

it was nineteen sixty nine. Everybody wanted to be led Zeppelin.
We didn't want another ballad, but we did it anyway.
We wrote Laughing and it too went right through the roof.
That was our second gold record in a row, so
we knew something was happening. At that point, we really
knew something was happening. We were flown down to Los Angeles.

We appeared on American Bandstand with Dick Clark. Dick Clark
presented us with gold record for These Eyes. I mean
This was a pretty big deal for me, and I
was still only twenty one at this point.

Speaker 2 (52:55):
Okay, for those of us who lived through it, there
was starting to be FM radio, but not in every market.
AM radio was everything.

Speaker 1 (53:04):
These Eyes was a gigantic kit in addition to being
a great record. What was it like? The record comes
out and it's a hit, what's going through your mind? Well,
I'll tell you a very brief story that Randy Bachman
and I were in the limo together driving into New

York back to do another session or something. These Eyes
had a hit. It was on the radio. We're in
the limo together and the driver has the radio on.
On comes These Eyes and we're going across the big
Try Try Try Fiber Bridge whatever it's. Yeah, we're looking
at We're looking at the skyscrapers and the the UH

Empire State Building and the beauty of New York. The big,
big New York is right in front of us. These
Eyes finishes on the radio, and the disc jockey comes
on and says, yeah, These Eyes, that's that great Canadian
record by the guests who from Canada, and Randy and
I looked at each other. Here we are looking at
New York City looking at the Empire State Building and

we're hearing the song we wrote. We were absolutely thrilled.
That's a moment, Bob, I will never ever forget. I
was twenty one, just a white Anglican boy from the
North End of Winnipeg and here we are in one
of the meccas of pop music in the world. We're
looking at the skyscrapers and these eyes is playing. I

would re under hypnosis. Someday I'll go back and relive
that moment over and over and over again. It was tremendous.
It was just tremendous. It was like dreams having all
come true. Why was the album named Wheatfield Soul? I
came up with that one. We used to go to
Toronto and play, but we were never there very long

and it was a struggle. This was at the beginning.
We hadn't had success yet, we hadn't even had television
shows yet, and Toronto was a big R and B
town and we weren't an R and B band. We
were just a four piece rock and roll band. Toronto
was all big bands with horns and silk suits and
R and B. And they used to say, oh, you Hicks,

you hicks from Manitoba or in town again, huh? And
I one day I said, yeah, but we've got we
Field soul and everybody liked it. And that's where the
album title came up. Everybody liked that when I came
up with that, So that's what we called the album.
And I think it's a good album title. I think
it's a good title. It is a good title. But

why is the next one canned Wheat? Well, but we
wanted to stay with the wheat field thing, so they did.
They did a cover of put us all on can
you know hand labels and canned wheat, and we wanted
to stay with the wheatfield thing. We were starting to
be identified as the guys that came from the wheat.

You know, Manitoba is known. Manitoba and Saskatchewan could feed
the whole world if it weren't for politics and money.
There's enough wheat comes out of Manitoba and Saskatchewan to
feed the entire planet. So we were starting to get
that reputation as wheatfield guys. So second album canned wheat.

Speaker 2 (56:31):
Okay, people have no idea how busy you are when
you have a hit record. You got to do all
this publicity. Goodness, you gotta go to the radio stations.
What about the money? Are you seeing any money? Are
you asking any questions? What's going on with the money?

Speaker 1 (56:48):
Well, we were pretty ignorant at the time about publishing.
We had no idea that the production company Nimbus, Jack
Richardson's company, they were they were collecting all the money
from the airplay and the publishing. We lost a lot

of money at the beginning. I don't know if it
was millions, but it was very hefty chunks before we
knew anything about publishing. And then Randy read this book
under his own volition. It was called The Business of
Music or This Business of Music, right billboard book, I think, yeah.

And Randy read that cover to cover and he started
understanding that the songwriting is a whole other income stream.
So he taught me a bit about that, and then
from from that point on we were a little more
curious about where the money was going and how did
you write? Laughing, laughing, that's an interesting story. We had

played a bunch of shows on Vancouver Island and you
have to take a ferry over from Vancouver to Vancouver Island. Well,
we had done three shows on the island. We drove
to the ferry terminal. The first ferry leaves at six
thirty in the morning. We got to the terminal about
six o'clock. We had to wait a half hour. At

the ferry terminal, we're sitting on our old highway bus,
getting ready to get onto the ferry. Randy picks up
a guitar starts strumming some chords. I start singing, coming
up with lyrics. Before we got on the ferry at
six pot thirty, laughing was finished. We finished it in
about half an hour, and it was a half hour

very well spent because that was our second gold record
in a row. Okay, did you know it was a
hit when you wrote it? We kind of liked it,
but we You know, Bob, you probably know as well
as anybody you've talked to enough people, you never really know.
You never really know when you've written it until it's released.

It's like a kid leaving home. You never know if
that kid's going to be successful until he leaves home
and tries well. With releasing a record, you never really
know until you release it. But we felt good about it.
And Dn Berkheimer, the guy that had begged us to
write another one in the vein of these eyes, and
we didn't do it. We really didn't want to do

another ballad. As I said, it was sixty nine. Everybody
wanted to be led Zeppelin. But when Laughing took off,
it really took off, and the flip side of laughing
it became a two sided single because the other side
was undone, which I still think is one of the
best songs Randy Beckman ever wrote. So that was a

two sided hit for us.

Speaker 2 (59:58):
Okay, On kenned whet. No Time is the opening track,
but it's also an American woman.

Speaker 1 (01:00:06):
How did that happen? Oh, you're a guy that listens
to records, Bob, I'm impressed. On the Canned Wheat album.
No Time was just long and it had too much
extended soloing and we hadn't perfected it, I guess, to
the point where it could be a single. But Jack
Richardson always thought it was catchy. He loved the guitar riff,

the own very catchy, and Jack Richardson suggested that we
re record it, cut it down to about three and
a half minutes, more like a single time, And when
we re recorded it it was in the Chicago studios

of RCIER, which were much better studios than where we
had done Canned Wheat. So time I became all of
a sudden it was a commercial song. They released it,
it was a smash hit record. So that was our
third hit record in a row.

Speaker 2 (01:01:09):
Okay for those people were paying attention. As you say,
led Zeppelin was becoming a big deal coming out in
sixty nine.

Speaker 1 (01:01:17):
Whatever. American Woman to the casual observer seems like a
big change. It's much more of a hard rock album.
What was going on in the mind of the band. Well,
when we actually did the song American Woman, we kind
of jammed it on stage one night. Randy came up

with this great riff and I just started singing over it,
and that's that's where it came from. But when we
did the vocal for American Woman, I mean, I was
never quite happy with it. I wanted to be Robert Plant.
I wanted to shriek like he did, like a banshee.
When that first Zeppelin album came out, I almost quit

the business, went back to school. I said to myself, Hell, man,
I'm not a I'm not a singer. That's a singer.
Robert Plant I could never do what Robert Plant did,
so I almost quit. But I was trying my best
when we did American Woman, I was trying to scream
like Robert Plant, and I was always disappointed. I never

quite quite made it to where I wanted it to be. Now.
The irony then of this is Robert Plant was in
Toronto years ago. He was on the air with a
guy named Jian somebody. I remember. This guy did a
little John Gomeshi jeon, that's right, Gian Gomeshi, and and

he was interviewing Robert Plant and the subject of Burton
Cummings came up, and Robert Plant went on and on
about what a what a hell of a singer I was,
and uh. He even mentioned a deep cut called Ballad
of the Last five Years, which even my biggest fans
I've hardly ever heard, Robert Plant knew it because he

must have been listening to deep cuts. He said, oh,
Ballad of the last five years, great song, Burton Cumming's
great singer. And I was like, I heard this, and
I was a foot off the ground for about a month.
I couldn't believe that my absolute idol as a singer
was complimenting me, so I'm very lucky in the fact

that people have heard me way beyond what I would
have imagined and dreamed of. I really am well.

Speaker 2 (01:03:35):
I know Cameron Crowe and the photographer Neil Preston, they
think you're the best rock vocalist ever.

Speaker 1 (01:03:42):
Oh my goodness. Cameron Crowe, We go back so far.
He was just a kid. He was the wonder kid
of Rolling Stone at that time. He was still a teenager,
but he liked us, and I guess he was asking
the powers that be at Rolling Stone at that time,
can I go do the interview with the guess Who?

Can I do another article on the guests Who? Cameron
was very kind to us, and when he did that
movie Almost Famous, I think he wrote that and had
a lot to do with it. And there was a
whole scene in there where a guy had a Guess
Who shirt on and he talked about the Guess Who.
And it was very very flattering to me that Cameron

crow had included us in that film.

Speaker 2 (01:04:29):
You know, Okay, from the outside, it looks like the
American Woman album is consciously a harder rock album. Did
you guys feel that you were definitely going in that
direction or he didn't feel that way, you're just making
another Guess Who album.

Speaker 1 (01:04:46):
No. I thought we were getting harder. I thought it
was getting to be more rock and roll. I really did.
There were There was a hard blues song on there
called Humpsy's Blues, where I was trying to scream really hard,
and there were there were less put it this way
or less ballads on American Woman. There was less soft music.

It was a harder album in general. And there is
one cut I still like on American Woman called Talisman,
which was a poem I had written. When I first
heard the word talisman, it was from the Classics Illustrated Comics,
and I think it was by Sir Walter Scott. But

I had never heard the word talisman. I didn't know
what it meant. It means a lucky charm or a
good luck charm. So I wrote this poem one night
and Randy loved the words. So he came up with
this beautiful guitar riff. This it's a very a modal

scale almost, and it fit, and he worked at it
for a while and made it fit the rhythmics of
the words I had written. I still like Talisman to
this day, and it's just back and Cummings, it's nothing
to do with the other guys.

Speaker 2 (01:06:03):
And how does No Sugar Tonight New Mother Nature come along?

Speaker 1 (01:06:07):
Well, Randy had No Sugar and I had New Mother Nature.
And for some strange reason, they were both in F sharp,
which is a ridiculous key for a piano player. It's
all black keys. I never would have sat consciously and

written something in F sharp, And for some reason Randy
had written No Sugar in F sharp, so the songs
were in the same key. Jack Richardson had the idea,
why don't we mesh the two songs together? And that worked.
That ended up being seven minutes though, so then behind

my back, Jack Richardson scooped No Sugar Tonight out and
just put it on the flip side of American Woman.
Probably probably a good idea commercially, although it broke my
heart that my song was gone. But in the long

run it ended up making American Woman and No Sugar
a double sided single, and that sat at number one
in Billboard for three consecutive weeks. A double sided single,
not many people can say that. Bob Okay, Randy Bachman
then leaves the band. What was going on there? Well,

you know, I was, I guess, more of a hippie
than Randy liked, and I was starting to experiment with
various substances and partying a little more. And Randy at
that point, he was a devout Mormon, he had converted
to Mormonism. He didn't really like the whole rock and

roll lifestyle, and we just had a bunch of disagreements.
So next thing we knew, he was gone, and we
got Kurt Winter and Greg Lescue, the two best guys
we could think of back in Winnipeg. We wanted to
recruit guys from back home, so we got Kurt Winter

and Greg Lescue from Winnipeg, and from that point on,
I think we were a little bit more of a
hard rock band because we now had two guitar players,
two electric guitar players.

Speaker 2 (01:08:29):
Okay, how did you and Randy get along in the band?
Before he realized he wanted to lead a cleaner life
and leave, well, you guys friends, or was always fullure.

Speaker 1 (01:08:39):
We were pretty good friends for a long time. We
wrote songs together, and we turned each other on to
different music. You know, I turned him onto The Doors,
which he never really liked. The Doors. He turned me
onto Georgie Fame, which made me a better singer overall.
Over the years, I listened to Georgie Fame a lot.

It helped my phrasing, it helped my understanding of just
being a bit more of a complex singer. So Randy
helped me and I tried to help him. We turned
each other onto a lot of different styles of music.
But eventually it was time for him to leave, and
we kind of all knew it, and it all happened

very fast. Next thing we knew, Greg and Kurt were
in the band. Next thing we knew we were flying
to Washington to play at the White House for Tricia
Nixon and Prince Charles, who's now the King. So it
was a very very fast summer in nineteen seventy. Okay,
slow that down. How did you end up playing at
the White House? And what was that experience? Like? Well,

American Woman was such a monstrous record, and I think
Tricia Nixon really liked it. So she asked her dad
or whoever, I guess, whoever was putting on the event,
can we get I guess who? I love that song
American Woman. So there we were asked to play at

the White House. Now we had a manager at the
time who should should have had his ass kicked because
it was the stupidest idea in the world. He told
us we shouldn't play American Woman because it might offend
the White House, and we'll make a big publicity gimmick
out of it to say that we were asked not

to play American Woman. Well, the whole thing backfired on us.
First of all, we got dumped on by Rolling Stone
and the underground press for even playing for the Nixons
because that was not a popular administration. So at all backfired.
And we were never asked not to play American Woman.

That was our manager's stupid idea. We should have done it,
but we didn't. So that was that. Okay, did you
meet Tricia Nixon? Did you meet Richie? Yes? Absolutely didn't
meet Richard Nixon, met Tricia Nixon, met Prince Charles. His
sister Princess Anne was there. Lear the heir to the

lear Jet fortune. I mean, this was a This was
a party of luminaries. There were some serious, serious money
people there, but it was the White House. You would
expect that, you know. I'll tell you one thing was
interesting about it, Bob. There was all virtually no security
going in. We were in a limo, two different limos,

and all they did was sweep under it with the
metal detector for about ten seconds, and away we went.
Today you can't even get within a block of the
White House, But in nineteen seventy there was almost no security.
But don't forget it was way before terrorism had reached
hijacking proportions. You know, it was way before nine to eleven,

before all of that stuff. But I remember the security
was very lax. There was a guy took us around
a tour, showed us all the old paintings, and they
took us all over the White House anywhere we wanted
to go. It seemed pretty lax to me. Pretty fascinating though,
So Randy Backman leaves the band. Is there anything that

goes through your head? Hmm?

Speaker 2 (01:12:22):
I wrote the songs with him. This may not be
good for me.

Speaker 1 (01:12:26):
Well, the music gods supplied me with another writing partner,
Kurt Winter, and Kurt Kurt wrote bus Rider, which was
a big record for the guests who but he also
wrote hand Me Down World. Hand Me Down World was
the follow up to American Woman, the follow up single,

and to this day those lyrics are very very strong.
Don't give me no hand me down, shoes, don't give
me no hand me down love, don't give me no
hand me down, world, I've got one already. Those lyrics
are still powerful today and it's fifty five years later.
So we were lucky that Kurt said yes joined the

band because I instantly had another writing partner.

Speaker 2 (01:13:16):
But the hit after that, Share of the Land, you
wrote alone.

Speaker 1 (01:13:20):
Yes, I wrote that alone, and that album Share the Land,
was the biggest album the Guests who ever had now,
partly I'm sure because it was on the heels of
the American Woman album. But Share the Land itself, the
song itself became almost like a bit of a hippie
anthem back then, like the young Bloods had had get

together and it was that feeling of the hippie days,
you know, and Share the Land was right at that
at the proper moment, the September of nineteen seventy, you know,
when everything was leaning towards the New Musical Revolution and.

Speaker 2 (01:14:02):
Back to the land movement too. Okay, the years go by,
you have to continue to have great success in Canada,
not as much big success.

Speaker 1 (01:14:13):
In the US. Are you aware of that? Are you
just so busy work and everything's great? No, I was aware.
I mean I had a big single called Stand Tall
under my own. Wait before we get to we don't
get to Stand Tall yet because we have all these
other hits, you know, hang on to your life. Albert Flasher,

Rangelers Slasher. Yeah, Albert Flasher was kind of a fluke
because it was the B side. We had a song
called Broken, which I thought was pretty good, but as
I hear it now years later, the vocals sounded like
I was trying too hard. So for some reason one
of the radio stations flipped it over and Albert Flasher

the B side, became quite a big hit record for us.
So I was very happy about that. And then what
about Clap for the Wolfman. Clap for the Wolfman was
a monstrous single for us. We had been on Midnight
Special six or seven times. I think must have been

doing something right to get asked back all those times.
And during all those visits I became quite friendly with Wolfman.
He was a fascinating guy. He was a radio legend,
you know, he was Everybody knew who Wolfman Jack was.
And we were going to do the record with me

imitating the Wolfman, and you know, just throwing in a
few lines here and there between verses. Now here again
Fate stepped in the music, God smiled on us again.
Wolfman Jack happened to be in Toronto the same time
we were recording Clap for the Wolfman. He was there

m seeing a car show a show. We got a
hold of him. We said, look, we've got a record
that's about you. Would you come and put your voice
on it? And he was very hesitant at first, he
didn't want to have anything to do with it. So
we got in a cab, went over to his hotel,
went up to his room, played him the song first

time he heard the first verse, and he loved it.
He said, when do you want me in the studio?
He was so he was flattered and happy and thrilled.
And I think he knew that it was going to
be a big, big deal for his career too, so
he was glad to come in do his ad libs
and has saved me for trying to imitate his voice.

And it worked out great. I think it worked out great. Okay,
since you had so much interaction. What was the Wolfman
like as a guy? Oh, he was a great guy.
I you know, he knew everybody. That's one thing. He
had known d Eddie and you know, all the heroes
I had when I was a kid. He had he

had learned about the He mceed rock shows way way
back before it was popular to MC rock shows. So
he had met a lot of my heroes. And he, boy,
he really knew the stuff. He knew what had charted
from every year, from every decade. He was a great guy.
I liked him very very much. We got along great.

Speaker 2 (01:17:27):
So how do you decide to leave the guests who.

Speaker 1 (01:17:31):
Well, we got Dominic Trojano in as a guitar player,
and that was the biggest mistake ever because he was
a jazz guy. He wanted to be a fusion act,
but he liked the money from the rock and roll singles.
He liked the money from AM radio, but didn't want

to play AM music. So that was a bit of
a quandary for him. So I after a while Troyano,
you know, he and I wrote a few good songs together,
but it was never the same. Once Troyano was there,
it was more like a fusion band wanna be fusion band,

and I just didn't want to I didn't want to
fight anymore about where the band was going in the
direction of the band, so I just decided one time,
it was a autumn of nineteen seventy five, and I
called a meeting and I said, look, boys, I'm going
to try it as a solo artist. And that was it, okay,
since really it was your band. Did you ever think, well,

maybe I'll get rid of Dominic. No, I think by
that point, see, I'm one of these guys. I don't
like a lot of personnel changes in bands, even going
back to the Beach Boys, when David Marx was gone
and Al Jardine was there. I looked at this and
I said, this isn't the Beach Boys. What's going on here?

Where's David Marx. I didn't want to be one of
those bands that had had a history of fifty guys
in the band. So I thought, at that point, we've
had enough guys, enough co writers, enough guitarists. I'm going
to try it as a solo artist. And we had
known Neil Young since we were all teenagers, and we

had seen him leave Winnipeg and watched him rise to
fame in the Buffalo Springfield. So I saw that as
maybe I could follow his steps, you know, hopefully I
had some kind of a hope as a solo artist.
So that was it. There was no more Guess Who.
After nineteen seventy five, Well didn't they continue a little

bit without you? They tried for a while. Cale went
and got Kurt Winter and Donnie McDougall, who had been
in the band for a while, and he went out
as the Guests Who. And we didn't do much about
it at the time because Kurt was still there, Donnie
was there, and Donnie sings very much like me, so

it was, you know, more of a more of a
representation back then. But we're still talking almost fifty years ago,
you know, a long time ago. And then I guess
when he when he registered the name. You see, it
had never been called the Guess Who until I came
in and we did the It's Time album. There were

two albums before that that I wasn't on, but it
just said Guess Who. They were still called Chad Allan
and the Silvertones. Chad and the Silvertones. So the first
time it was ever called the Guess Who. I was there,
and it was sixty six on an album called It's Time. Okay,

how do you hook up with Richard Perry? I signed,
I got out of my RCA contract act with the
guests who an RCA, and looked around Los Angeles. My
manager at the time knew that Richard Perry was the
producer at the time. I mean, he had done the

Pointer Sisters, and he had done Your So Vain by
Carly Simon, one of the biggest records ever, and he
had done Leo Sayer and he was a really, very
very much choice producer at the time, in demand. So
they somehow hooked me up with him. I went and
had dinner with him and played him some of my

songs at the piano. He loved it. He particularly loved
stan Tall and I'm Scared, two of my songs from
this debut solo album. So I ended up working with
Richard Perry, a legendary producer.

Speaker 2 (01:21:56):
Okayh'd you end up on Portrait Records, which was part
of Epic.

Speaker 1 (01:22:01):
Well, I was offered a contract with Columbia, and I
guess I was technically signed to Columbia already, and Columbia
was launching a new label kind of like RCA launched
Red Seal, so this would be kind of their an

offshoot Prestige label, and they were gonna call it Portrait Records,
and they told me if I signed with Portrait, I
would be the first artist ever with a release on
Portrait Records. So that sounded good to me. I got
a big billboard up on Sunset Strip. Stan Taal was
the first record ever on Portrait, and all of that

got me extra promotion, I think, so it was a
good thing.

Speaker 2 (01:22:53):
What was the difference being on Portrait as opposed to
being with RCA.

Speaker 1 (01:22:59):
I had a little more, a little more individual attention.
RCA was very busy, still busy with Elvis and Jefferson
Airplane and Harry Nilson and RCA had a million, a
million acts, you know, And I thought maybe I was

getting better individual attention as being opposed to opposed to
being lost in the shuffle. Okay, so your work with
Richard Perry, you own Studio fifty five right there by paramount.
He's a meticulous guy. He is not a guy who
cuts a record in one day. So I could what

was that experience like for you? Well, it was exhausting,
and yet I could see his method. But he made
me sing certain songs thirty forty times and then he
would end up keeping half of take six and half
of take eight, you know, but I can understand that's

that's the way Richard works. So I just I went
along with his methods. But it was exhausting. But I'll
tell you this. It's it's interesting how Richard works because
he's a hit record maker and he's very, very concerned
with the lead vocal all the time. So I watched

when we were recording everything, you know, everything would be
on whatever tracks they were, and then when all the
recording was done, when it was time to start mixing,
Richard would move the lead vocal down to track number
one and just sit down there on the fader of
number one and ride the vocal throughout the rest of
the song. That that's the way Richard made records. And

who can argue with his track record He had some
tremendous successful records. And oh and he did Barbara Streissan,
the Pointer Sisters, Leo sayre uh yeah, and your Solvain,
which is one of the biggest records ever. And here's
an interesting thing. I don't know if you even know this,

but you would know this, Bob. But if you listen
carefully to your Solvain. It's Mick Jagger doing background vocals
with Carly Simon. But until somebody tells you that, until
somebody tells you that, you would never really listen for it.
Once you listen for it is as clear as a bell,
Mick Jagger backing her up on your Solvain. Absolutely. So

you make a record with Richard and you have a
huge hit with Stan Tall Yeah, and uh, and we
had another one, I'm Scared, which we all believed in,
but it didn't quite click in the States the way
it did in Canada, but Richard loved it anyway. I
still love the song. It was my mother's favorite song

I ever wrote, So it was Uh. I was pretty
proud of that first album. And we also did a
takeoff on Randy Bachman's you Ain't Seen Nothing Yet because
it had just been the number one in Billboard, and
I did a big band version of it with horns
and everything and kind of a kind of a sarcastic

jab at Randy. But Randy was still impressed with the
version we did. How did you.

Speaker 2 (01:26:24):
Feel about Randy having that incredible success with bto Oh?

Speaker 1 (01:26:29):
I was happy for him. I had known. See, here's
the thing Bob. I had known Fred Turner for years.
He was another local Winnipeg boy. We were all in
rival bands when we were teenagers. And Fred Turner long
before Bto. He was in a band called the Pink
Plum and he impressed me as a singer because there

was a there was a record called stand By Me
and Spider Turner. I think as the artist, if my
memory serves me, and Spider Turner did stand by Me,
but he imitated a lot of different singers throughout Bennie
King and some other people. And one time when I
was a teenager, I saw Fred Turner do the Spider

Turner version of stand By Me and did all the
vocal imitations during it. So I was always impressed with
Fred Turner. I figured he would make it someday.

Speaker 2 (01:27:27):
So ultimately you continue to have success in Canada but
less success in the US. What's going through your mind?

Speaker 1 (01:27:40):
I just you know what. I always kept plowing ahead.
I said, as long as as long as I've got
new songs and as long as I'm hitting my notes,
long as i want to get back in the studio
and do another album, I'm going to keep plowing ahead.
So it hasn't been a disaster for me in the States.
It's just my biggest problem has been this fake guess who.

You know, people think I'm still with the band people.
A lot of people still think Randy's with the band,
and it's just not true.

Speaker 2 (01:28:10):
Okay, But going a little bit slower, you end up
working on a movie, Melanie, How.

Speaker 1 (01:28:16):
Does that happen? Oh? Yeah, Well, the producer, Peter Simpson,
was from Canada. He had known of my history and
they needed a guy to play this burned out rock
and roll star that makes a big comeback meets a
girl from the backwoods and everything turns out okay. And

that when they were casting for the guy that I played.
They they came to me pretty early in the casting
days and said would you be willing to do this?
And I said, well, I'm not an actor, but I'll
give it a shot. You know, I'll do the best
I can. I'll promise you I'll give you my very
best attempt. And they let me write the songs for

the movie and I had a nude scene, which was
very embarrassing and kind of strange to do, but overall
it was you know, I could never have been an actor.
You act for two minutes, you sit for six hours,
you act for three minutes, you sit for four hours.
I could never ever have done that, and I don't

have the chops anyway. I'm not a you know, I'm
not Robert de Niro or Lawrence Olivier. I never had
those chops. But it was an interesting experience and I'm
all the better for it knowing how good you have
to be to be a movie person. So as the
years go by, often on you work with Randy Bachman,

what would cause you to get back together with him?
There were tremendous offers for Bachman and Cummings because everybody
knows that we were the guys that wrote these I
as an American woman, et cetera, et cetera. There were
tremendous offers for us everywhere, and we just decided, Okay,

let's let's go out and see Let's go out and
see how this works. And I believe it was nineteen
eighty seven or eighty eight when we first did the
Bachman Comings, first Backman Comings tour, and it worked out great.
It was fun to be with him again at that point,
But you've.

Speaker 2 (01:30:27):
Continue to work with him off and on. Is it
usually generated by offers.

Speaker 1 (01:30:31):
What motivates that? A lot of times it's generated by offers,
and a lot of times it's just the fact that
you know, I we have a tremendous two hour show.
When you start doing the Guess Whose stuff, and then
you do the bto stuff, and then you do some

of my solo career. It's two hours of hit records
that everybody knows hard when you get tremendous offers to
do that, and we know what the reaction is going
to be from the fans every time. It's tremendous. And
we end the night with taking care of business, which
is kind of an anthem in itself, you know, between

American woman taking care of business, share the land, clap
for the wolfman, stand tall, let it ride, no sugar.
You know, it's two hours of hit records. Sometimes it's
nice to go and do that. And how did the
two of you get along? Now? Oh? We get along fine.

We've teamed up together to stop this Guess who nonsense,
So we're fine right now. Okay, Prior to COVID, the
two of you were planning to go out, yes, and
what happened. COVID shut everybody down. And I will tell you,
This bob the worst of my worst two years of

my adult life. And then when I tried to come
back after lying around for two years, I had no chops.
A singer has to sing all the time. You can't
be I've said this before, but I'll say it again.
You can't be a marathon runner and lie around off
and on on your couch for two years and jump
up and run your twenty six miles. It's not going

to happen. We did a Backman coming show shortly after
the COVID shutdout was over. We played in Winnipeg and
it was a big deal. They made a big deal
of it. Backman and Cummings returned to their hometown and
twenty thousand people there, and I couldn't hit my notes.
It was so embarrassed. I was devastated. We filmed the

whole thing with five cameras. It's all unusable unless I
go in and do post sync and re record all
my vocals. I had no vocals. I had no vocal chops.
Broke my heart. But fortunately now I've worked and worked
and worked at it and done something. We did a

lot of touring this last summer. We did over thirty shows,
and my chops are finally back. I'm starting to sound
like Burden the singer again. Okay, you are a rock star.
Rock stars there's a lot of things. They frequently have
multiple marriages, multiple kids. How's your personal life worked out.

I'm divorced. I am living in moose Jaw with my
full time spouse. One of the reasons I moved to
moose Jaw I had had enough of the big city.
I like the small city. And my spouse that I'm
with now is perfectly supportive of me musically and career wise,

and I'm happy to be in a small town again.
And I'm you know, I'm quite enjoying life right now,
except for this guess who debacle.

Speaker 2 (01:34:05):
So the woman you're now married to, did you meet
her in la or did you meet her in Canada?

Speaker 1 (01:34:11):
I met her at we're not married yet, we're common
law yet, but we probably will. I met her actually
she came to one of my shows in Canada, and
later there was a sit around talk, you know, a
bunch of fans of five or six, eight, ten people

got together. We started talking. I saw her again. We
started emailing each other, and she knew all about my career.
And we just you know, sometimes you just click with somebody,
You just instantly click. And Carrie and I have been
together now for seven years and that's you know, that's

longer than a lot of people stay together. So I'm
quite happy right now. And do you have any children? No,
no children ever. I've never wanted kids. And people say, well,
why is that? And you know, when I was young,
it was the career. I was on the road all
the time. And at the beginning of the Guess Whose Success,

Randy had his first two kids and he never saw
them grow up. We were on the road all the time.
He never saw their first step, he never heard the
first word. And that was enough for me to know
I didn't want that. I and you know what, I
don't have unlike most people, I don't have a burning
desire to have kids. Everybody says, well, what's wrong with you? Well,

how about nothing's wrong with me. I just it's not.
It's not for everybody. Kids are not for everybody. It's
as simple as that. There's nothing wrong with me as
far as not wanting having kids.

Speaker 2 (01:35:57):
So do you think the perception of you in the
Guess Who would be different if you were from the
States instead of Canada.

Speaker 1 (01:36:08):
No, I honestly don't, because look at Nickelback, look at
Shanaiah Twain, look at the people, look at Brian Adams
lover Boy people have come out of It doesn't matter.
I don't think it matters where you come from. What
I really believe is what matters are the records that

you cut and how they get treated at broadcasting level.
And I've one of the ones I've I've been very lucky.
The songs I've sung and written or co written have
never gone away. I still hear these eyes, I still
hear sharing the Land, I still hear clap for the
wolf Man. It's fifty years later, and I'm still hearing

those songs that came out of my head and came
out of my mouth. Now, you know, you talk about
songwriting royalties, there's also a record royalties. This is a morass.
Do you get any record recording royalties or do they
still say we don't know your money? What's going on there? Well?

These days, I guess a lot of the streaming, a
lot of the money is streaming, and a lot of
the money is performance on the radio. I think only
the only Taylor Swift is really selling records, and she's
breaking all the Beatles records, so good for her. But
other than Taylor Swift and a couple of rappers, I'm

not so sure how many physical copies are being sold. Although,
as you would know, Bob, there is a huge resurgence
of vinyl. So we're we're we're repackaging and and and
reproducing a lot of the vinyl guess who albums with
the with the real people on there by the way,

So in terms of legacy, as you say, these records
are never going away, Well stop there for a minute.
How did did you know that Lenny Kravitz was going
to cover American Woman. We had no idea, but uh,
that came about because of Mike Myers having grown up
in Canada. He was a huge fan of mine. I've

known Mike for a while, and Mike had done that
movie and they were going to use Lenny Kravitz's version
of American Woman for the for the ending titles, like
the ending credits, and he just went in and did

a bang up version of American Woman. And that's as
far as he knew, as far as he told me
one time, as far as he knew, it was just
going to be for the ending credits, but then his
record company liked it so much they put it out
as a single. And this is how big the single got, Bob.

They had a bunch of Lenny Kravitz's greatest hits albums
out in the market. They recalled a lot of them
back in so they could repress them with American Woman included.
So the irony here we are again talking about musical irony, Bob,
Lenny writes all his own stuff, biggest hit of his career,

American Woman irony again. So do you care about legacy?
Do you care if your songs are remembered? Yes? I do,
but I want them to be remembered by the guys
that recorded them. I don't want some cover band going
out there claiming taking the accolades for stuff we did

decades ago. And by the way, some of these guys
in the cover guess who the guess who cover band
were barely born when those records were made. So it's
just a travesty. It's a perfect word. It's a travesty.
I don't see how you don't ow ultimately succeed in
this action. And we're getting the word out. I think

the word's gotten out pretty well already, Burton. I want
to thank you for taking the time and telling your
story to my audience. Thank you very much for having me, Bob,
and I really appreciate the outlet to let people know
what a problem this is. I appreciate very much. And
you're very famous. I knew all about this and I

was a little bit nervous talking to you today, So
thank you very much for being kind, and thank you
for understanding the situation. Bob. Yeah, you know, it's happened before,
usually with older generations. It's really sad. In any event,
till next time. This is Bob Left stands
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