Canadian History for Kids!
Sketches of Canada for May 20th!

Canadian History for Kids: The Guess Who

May 20, 1970 – The Guess Who’s American Woman/No Sugar Tonight stays at #1 on the Billboard pop chart.

This Canadian History for Kids exclusive, looks at the amazing rock and roll band, The Guess Who.

It’s May 20, 1970 and the Canadian rock band, Guess Who, hits No. 1 on the US Top 10 with American Woman and their B-side No Sugar Tonight. They are the first Canadian band to have a number one hit on the US “Hot 10”.

In 1962 the band, originally named Chad Allan & the Reflections, consisted of Chad Allan (vocals/guitar), Bob Ashley (keyboards), Randy Bachman (guitars), Jim Kale (bass) and Garry Peterson (drum). All the members were born in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They signed with Quality Records, who released some of their singles.

In 1965 the band had to change their name to Chad Allan & the Expressions when a US band named Reflections came out with a number one hit in the states.

The band had their own first hit in 1965 with their redition of Shakin’ All Over. The single reached No. 1 in Canada and No. 22 in the States. Quality Records, as a publicity stunt, released the single with simply “Guess Who?” hoping that listeners’ curiosity would be peaked. It was also hoped people would think that some famous performers were involved. Radio station DJ continued to announce the band as Guess Who. The name had stuck and the band became the “Guess Who”.

In late 1965 Bob Ashley left the group and Burton Cummings came in as keyboardist and co-vocalist. A few months later Chad Allan left the group making Burton Cummings their lead singer.

In the late 60’s to mid-70’s the band had a number of hit singles including No Time, These Eyes, Share the Land, as well as American Woman. These Eyes was released in 1969 by their new label RCA Records and made Top 10 in the States.

In 1970 Randy Bachman left the band and returned to Winnipeg. He later formed the highly successful group Bachman-Turner-Overdrive.

Bachman was replaced by Kurt Winter and Greg Keskiw. Kurt Winter wrote such songs with Burton Cummings as Hand Me Down World, Share the Land, and Hang on to Your Life.
In 1972 they release their highly acclaimed album Live at the Paramount. The band had more changes when Greg Kewkiw and Jim Kale left the band to be replaced by Don McDougall and Bill Wallace.

Writers Cummings, Winter and now Bill Wallace wrote their last big hit Clap for the Wolfman. The song was written about the great disc jockey Wolfman Jack. It reaches #4 in Canada and #6 in the States.

In 1974 the band dissolved after Burton Cummings left the band.

In 1977 CBC approached the band about a reunion. While Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman were unavailable, the other members including Kale Peterson, Winter and McDougall were. Cummings and Bachman gave their approval to use the name Guess Who for the reunion. Kale later discovered that the name Guess Who was never registered and quickly registered the name. He owns the name to this day and has continued to tour with fellow members Kurt Winter and Don McDougall.

Ink 1983 Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings reunited with Jim Kale and Garry Peterson as The Guess Who to record Together Again live album and video. They also reunited in 1999 for the closing ceremonies of the Pam American Games at Winnipeg Stadum.

The band was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1987, and in 2001 they received a star in Canada’s Walk of Fame. Burton Cummings, Randy Bachman, Garry Peterson, Will Wallace and Donnie McDouglas provided their signatures for the star.

And that’s this week’s Canadian History for Kids, exclusive!

Other Canadian History for Kids Sketches of Canada