The Guess Who was Canada's most popular rock band of the 60s and early 70s. The group had its roots in a band called Chad Allan And The Reflections, formed in Winnipeg, Canada, in 1962. That group itself came out of two others, Allan And The Silvertones and the Velvetones. The original line-up of Chad Allan And The Reflections comprised Allan (b. Allan Kobel; guitar/vocals), Jim Kale (bass), Randy Bachman (guitar), Bob Ashley (piano) and Garry Peterson (drums). Their first single, 'Tribute To Buddy Holly', was released on the Canadian American label in Canada in 1962. Singles for the Quality and Reo labels followed. By 1965 the group had changed its name to Chad Allan And The Expressions and recorded a cover of Johnny Kidd And The Pirates' 'Shakin' All Over', released on Quality Records in Canada and picked up by Scepter Records in the USA. It became a number 1 single in Canada and number 22 in the USA. Ashley left the group and was replaced by Burton Cummings, formerly of the Canadian group the Deverons, who shared lead vocal duties with Allan for a year. In 1965 the group released its first album, Shakin All Over. In order to give the impression to potential buyers that the group was English, Quality printed 'Guess Who"' on the cover, prompting the group to take those words as its new name. In 1966 Allan departed from the group. He was briefly replaced by Bruce Decker, another ex-Deveron, who quickly left, leaving the group as a quartet with Cummings as chief vocalist.
Although they faded from the US charts for three years, the Guess Who remained popular in Canada. In 1967 they had their first UK chart single with 'His Girl', on the King label. A brief, disorganized UK tour left the group in debt, and it returned to Canada, recording Coca-Cola commercials and appearing on the television programme Let's Go, which boosted their Canadian popularity even further. They continued to release singles in Canada on Quality, and on Amy and Fontana Records in the USA. In 1968, with financial backing from producer Jack Richardson, the Guess Who recorded Wheatfield Soul in New York, released in Canada on Richardson's own Nimbus 9 label. The third single from the album, 'These Eyes', written by Cummings and Bachman, reached number 1 in Canada and earned the group a US contract with RCA Records. The single reached number 6 in the USA in spring of 1969. That year, the group's second album, Canned Wheat Packed By The Guess Who, also charted, as did 'Laughing', the b-side of 'These Eyes', itself a Top 10 hit, and 'Undun', which reached number 22 in the US. The group's busy year was wrapped up with a number 5 single, 'No Time'.
In March 1970, the hard rocking 'American Woman' became the Guess Who's only US number 1 The b-side 'No Sugar Tonight', also received considerable radio airplay. American Woman became the group's only Top 10 album in the US during this time. In July 1970 Bachman left the group, finding the group's rock lifestyle incompatible with his Mormon religion. He resurfaced first with Chad Allan in a new group called Brave Belt and finally with Bachman-Turner Overdrive (minus Allan), which itself - ironically - became a popular hard rock group in the 70s. A Guess Who album recorded while Bachman was still in the group was cancelled. Bachman was replaced in the Guess Who by guitarists Kurt Winter and Greg Leskiw. Another US Top 10 single, 'Share The Land', finished up 1970 for the group. They continued to release charting singles and albums in the early 70s, including 'Albert Flasher' and 'Rain Dance' in 1971, and their Greatest Hits reached number 12. In 1972 Leskiw and Kale left the group, replaced by Don McDougall and Bill Wallace, respectively. In 1974 Winter and McDougall left, replaced by Dom Troiano, former guitarist of the James Gang. That year, the single 'Clap For The Wolfman', written for US disc jockey Wolfman Jack, reached number 6 in the USA. It proved to be the group's final hit. In 1975 Cummings disbanded the Guess Who and began a solo career.
In 1979 a new Guess Who line-up, featuring Allan, Kale, McDougall and three new members, recorded and toured but were not successful. Similar regroupings (minus Cummings) also failed. A 1983 Guess Who reunion aroused some interest and resulted in an album and concert video, and Bachman and Cummings toured together in 1987, although they failed to win large audiences. Though various line-ups continue to tour under the Guess Who name, a successful reunion of the original members took place in the new millennium.
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