14 Top 40 Hits
The Guess Who, the band that became Canada's first international rock music superstars, began in 1962 in Winnipeg as Chad Allen & the Reflections. Including members Randy Bachman (guitar), Jim Kale (bass) and Garry Peterson (drums), Chad Allen and the Reflections had become Chad Allen and the Expressions by the time they recorded a cover of "Shakin' All Over" released by Quality Records in 1965. The song was a #1 single in Canada and reached #22 in America. Burton Cummings joined the group that same year, replacing the keyboard player and sharing lead vocals.
Quality Records released the group's first single and album, Shakin' All Over, in a plain white record jacket with only the question "Guess Who?" written on it. The marketing ploy capitalized on curiosity and the promise of another British Invasion band. It worked. After selling two million copies the band had its trademark name: The Guess Who.
Experimenting with the sounds of freedom, psychedelic and garage rock that were filtering across the border from Minneapolis, The Guess Who eventually moved there to record. Their song "His Girl" gave the band a Top 20 hit in England, an offer to sign with London-based King Records and the opportunity to tour. They immediately left for the U.K. After just one album, the band quit King Records and returned to Canada. After recording the promotional album A Wild Pair (with The Staccatos on the flipside) for Coca-Cola and appearing on the TV show Let's Go, the homecoming of The Guess Who was marked by the sale of their Quality Records contract for $1,000 to Nimbus 9, owned by producer Jack Richardson.
Richardson believed so strongly in The Guess Who that he mortgaged his home to finance the recording of the album, Wheatfield Soul, which was released in 1968. The first single, "These Eyes," reached #1 in Canada, earning the band a U.S. contract with RCA Records. Heralded as the beginning of the Canadian Invasion, "These Eyes" reached #3 in America in 1969 with total sales of more than one million copies. Their second album for RCA, Canned Wheat Packed by The Guess Who, also released in 1968, contained the Top 10 hits "Laughing" (the B-Side of "These Eyes") and "No Time" as well as Top 40 hit "Undun."
Ironically it was "American Woman" from March of 1970 that gave The Guess Who a #1 single in the U.S., unseating The Beatles for three weeks straight. The Top 10 album, also entitled American Woman contained the hits "No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature" (the B-Side of "American Woman"). The popularity of the band earned them an invitation to perform at the White House before Prince Charles and the President and Mrs. Nixon, although she requested that the band not perform "American Woman." It was during the peak of this success that Randy Bachman decided to leave the band (replaced by guitarists Kurt Winter and Greg Leskiw) and formed Bachman Turner Overdrive shortly thereafter. Over the next few years the group continued to chart with the singles "Albert Flasher," "Rain Dance" and "Clap for the Wolfman," which reached #6, and the album Greatest Hits. After 10 years with the band, Burton Cummings left in 1975 to pursue a successful solo career. The original members of The Guess Who appeared sporadically over the ensuing years: Jim Kale and Garry Peterson continued the band with new members through the late 70's; Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings toured together in 1983; there was a brief reunion from which an album and concert video were released in 1985; and the band appeared together when they were inducted into the Canadian Recording Arts & Sciences (CARAS) Hall of Fame in 1987.
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