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For week ended November 21, 1999 Posted 18 Dec 1999

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LDS rock star treated like a saint (So long, Bannatyne)

Summarized by Eric Bunker

LDS rock star treated like a saint (So long, Bannatyne)
Jam! (Winnipeg Sun) 21Nov99 A2
By Brendan O'Hallarn: Winnipeg Sun

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, CANADA: 30 years ago, four young men from Winnipeg were on top of the world. For the first three weeks of May 1970, The Rock Band, The Guess Who had a single titled žAmerican WomanÓ that was the No. 1-selling single in the world. Among the group, church member Randy Bachman was lead guitarist.

Almost 30 years later, this particular rock anthem endures as a legacy for all Canadian bands. The Guess Who were the first made-in-Canada supergroup. Their successes inspired many young artists to copy them and opened the doors for many to follow.

No one anticipated that a band from the Canadian Prairies would ever make it big and yet retain attached to their Canadian roots. Before they became famous, they were known as the best and hardest-working band in Winnipeg, playing at every community club, church basement and high school dance in the city they were hired for, garnering a reputation for a fabulous live show.

As a supergroup in the 1970's, the band recorded eight gold records in five years and made two appearances on Dick Clark's American Bandstand. The four kids from Winnipeg were also invited to perform at the White House.

In 1970, The Guess Who sold more records than any band in the world, even more than the mighty British acts such as The Beatles and the Stones, or U.S. powerhouses such as The Doors and Creedence Clearwater Revival. And unlike Canadians Neil Young and Paul Anka, The Guess Who chose to "make it" while staying in Canada.

Beginning March 28, 1970, the band's single, "American Woman" stayed 14 weeks on the Billboard Top 40, propelling The Guess Who to superstardom. Later that year, though the band was at its peak professionally, Randy Bachman, because of his religious principles, left the group, upset with the excesses and normal decadent perks of the rock lifestyle.

The band replaced Bachman and barely skipped a beat. But gradually, life on the road with its excesses took its toll. The Guess Who broke up in October 1975. Nevertheless, its legacy of artistry lives on, on the airwaves.

This touring season, Guess Who biographer John Einarson went backstage with Randy Bachman him at a concert in Tennessee. He said that Randy was treated like a saint by the featured superstar band. One of its singers said that Randy Bachman is rock 'n' roll royalty to him. He said that all of his friends grew up listening to his records, dreaming they could be like him.

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information