By Kent Larsen
Guess Who Near Wrapping Up American Tour
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA -- If there is ever a rock anthem titled
"reconciliation," it would have to be by The Guess Who. While most
baby-boomers will, if they remember the band, know that the group died long
ago, and maybe even remember that the Mormon beliefs of its leader, Randy
Bachman, played a factor in the group's demise. But Bachman has now reunited
with his former band members, and they are now nearing the end of an
American tour, finishing the "American Woman" tour they never completed when
The band's resurrection is as interesting a story as its rise in the 1960s
and demise in the early 1970s. The group is best remembered in Canada, where
it represents a lot of 'firsts,' including the first Canadian group to "make
it in the U.S.," hitting number one on the billboard charts. But among many
Mormons, Bachman remains unknown, as seen in a recent Deseret News article,
which nearly ignored Bachman's Mormon beliefs, and got the one fact it did
The Mormon part of The Guess Who story starts with Bachman, a Winnepeg,
Manitoba native who was defacto leader of the band that became The Guess Who
in a promotion gimmic that stuck. As the band became well-known in Canada
for the first time in the mid 1960s, Bachman met and fell in love with an
American girl whose family was living in Canada. Lorrayne Stevenson was a
Mormon, and Bachman soon investigated and joined the LDS Church in 1965. The
two later married in an LDS temple.
In subsequent years Bachman made a fortune with the band, but somehow
managed to keep up his standards in spite of the rigors of the road, the
distance from his family, and the low morals of many in the music industry.
As the band's leader, Bachman demanded responsibility from the other band
members, keeping them from wasting the group's money and time on
extravagances common among other music groups of the time. Naturally these
demands, along with Bachman's morals, led to friction in the group. A series
of misunderstandings in 1972 then led Bachman to leave, right in the middle
of the group's "American Woman" tour, named after its number one hit that year.
Bachman went on to found another successful group, Bachman Turner Overdrive,
and built a successful musical career as a solo artist and producer for
other Canadian groups. Unfortunately, the musician's lifestyle, even a
successful one, led to Bachman's divorce from his first wife.
Then, in August 1999, Bachman got an e-mail message from Manitoba's premier,
a fan of The Guess Who. "Burton Cummings (The Guess Who's principle
vocalist) also got an e-mail. The premier told us that he would love for his
favorite band -- the Guess Who -- to play four songs at the closing ceremonies
of the Pan Am Games.
"I was working on my own tour and so was Burton, so we immediately wrote and
declined. But later I found some old pictures of the band playing to the
athletes during the 1967 games. There we were, just up there playing to a
line of athletes who were standing in line to get their dinner. They looked
like soldiers in a mess line. I thought, 'Wow. What would it be like to play
the games some 30 years later?' Luckily, the premier called on us again, and
we decided to do it."
The timing was right, and Cummings and Bachman were finally able to
reconcile after nearly 30 years. The show for the Pan Am Games turned out
well, and made Bachman want much more, "Right after the show, I turned to
Burton and asked him if he felt what I did when we were on stage. He said he
did, and we decided we could try to go at the Guess Who again." Cummings
agreed, "Once it was over, it was too quick. We really liked that feeling of
playing together again and doing all the old songs. That was something we
didn't count on."
The reunion has snowballed since then. "We played in Winnipeg on Canada Day
and opened a new stadium," said Bachman. "Then Toronto, all the way on the
west end of Canada, heard about the show and wanted us to play there. It
kind of helped patch up the east side/west side rivalry. We played quite a
few places in between. It turned out to be a 50-date tour. Then we started
getting calls to tour the States." Cummings says that the calls from U.S.
fans were the most surprising, "In Canada, it's more than a musical thing.
It's a semicultural phenomenon that goes way beyond us. But I never thought
we meant that much to people in America. Now we've discovered that there's
something about our songs that has genuinely touched people." That feeling
has even led some fans to urge the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to add the
group, drawing more than 8,000 signatures to an online petition.
Cummings adds that once the band started performing again, they also
discovered that their songs have weathered time very well, "Once we got up
and running again, we realized that our songs have lasted very well. They're
not syrupy songs that sounded bogus just a few years later, and that has
happened to a lot of acts." Part of the reason for that is, he says, that
the group was more about music than promotion, "We never had much of a
visual identity. That went along with the name. We'd tour, and during the
opening act I'd walk through the crowd and no one would notice. I'd hear
people talking about me while I was standing right next to them. ... We
weren't about image. It was the body of tunes that had to matter."
Still today, Bachman credits his Mormon beliefs with helping him in his
career, "As an artist, you will always come across rejection. Critics,
record companies, publishing companies -- they all, at one time or another,
tell you a song isn't good. And to keep going, sometimes you have to rely on
religion to help you feel good about yourself. It gives you something to
grab onto." And he says his family has also helped, "I've got a family that
I've been blessed with. This family has helped me keep my focus. It's kept
me off drugs, alcohol and other dangers of the road. And that support has
been very dear to me, especially on this tour." Bachman's family includes
his son Tal, who has his own musical career and a hit with the song "She's
So High" a couple of years ago.
Now the group is getting along well, especially Bachman and Cummings. The
pair, who wrote most of The Guess Who's hits together, are even writing new
music together, and Cummings expects that they will release a new four-disc
box set of older tunes by Christmas of 2002, "and I forsee at least one new
album. We'll cast that upon the sea and see what happens. We've had our
baggage. But that's all gone now. We're all grown up. Randy's had his other
life; I've had mine. Things have changed."
Guess what? Guess Who renews muse
Orange co CA Register 21Oct01 A2
By Ben Wener: The Orange County Register
The grizzled Canadians have so much fun with a reunion run that they're looking forward to a new album.
Guess Who's bringing their classic rock tour to S.L.?
Deseret News 19Oct01 A2
By Scott Iwasaki: Deseret News music editor
Balance of The Guess Who's American Tour:
Wed 10/24/01 Anaheim, CA Arrowhead Pond
Thu 10/25/01 Sacramento, CA ARCO Arena
Fri 10/26/01 San Jose, CA Compaq Center At San Jose
Sun 10/28/01 Concord, CA Chronicle Pavilion @ Concord
Thu 11/01/01 Nampa, ID Idaho Center
Sun 11/04/01 Seattle, WA KeyArena at Seattle Center
"The Guess Who" for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Bachman Credits Church with Keeping Him Alive
Major LDS Music Websites Make News
Guess Who Album Set For August
Guess Who To Do Benefit
Bachman Donates Memorabilia
Guess Who Can't Release Album
Bachman At Cardston Career Fair
Randy Bachman to Tour US with Guess Who
Guess Who DVD Will Be More Than Just Concert
Canadian Musicians Discuss Arts Funding
Rock Legends to Hold Internet Chat
LDS Rock Star Bachman is Hot; Is He Headed to Hall of Fame?
Musician Releases Autobiography
LDS Singer Bachman Courted by Both US Presidential Candidates
LDS Rocker Randy Bachman to Lecture at PanCanadian WordFest 2000
The Guess Who Wraps Up Tour
LDS Church Member Bachman Back With 'Guess Who'
LDS Rock Star Rejoins 'Guess Who'
Bachman Happy With Guess Who Reunion Tour
Tal not quite a chip off the Bachman block
LDS Rocker Tal Bachman Follows Dad
LDS Rock Star Treated Like A Saint
Mormon Musician Makes Top 20