Best Classic Bands: It’s Burton Cummings’ Fault

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burton-cummingsBlame it on a Facebook post about Burton Cummings. I was looking at my FB stream a number of years ago and a friend was raving about the Burton Cummings concert he had seen that night. I Googled “Burton Cummings tour” and saw that the former singer, principal songwriter and co-founder of the Guess Who had played a small venue in New York City, where I live, within the past week.

I was not pleased. The man had a golden voice and a terrific repertoire to draw from. (In the U.S., the Guess Who earned nine Top 20 singles including their 1968 breakthrough hit “These Eyes” and the #1 smashes “American Woman” and “No Sugar Tonight.” In their native Canada, that number is over 25.)

I had never seen him perform live and figured I had blown my only chance. In the previous 18 months, I had seen concerts by such classic rock acts as Paul Simon, the Rascals, Nick Lowe, Graham Parker & the Rumour, Squeeze, The Who, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Steve Winwood, Deborah Harry, and more.

But in each of those cases, I had heard about their shows in advance. Not so with Cummings’ show.

I knew I wasn’t alone in my frustration, and whenever I did attend a concert by an act from the classic rock era I saw attendees that were aged 40-plus as well as quite a few Millennials, who had more than likely been initially exposed to the music by their parents. I knew there were others who likely would have caught those shows if they’d known about them. There clearly was a need for someplace where fans could find out about new tours, music and other activities by their favorite classic rock acts.

I also missed the joys of spending hours browsing through albums (and their artwork and liner notes) in the well-stocked racks at Tower Records and being introduced to a new act or the “aha!” moment of discovering a long-forgotten one in the “Misc. R” bin, as well as the informed clerks offering tips and interacting with fellow fans. (And, yes, I shop at Amazon and Best Classic Bands is an Amazon affiliate. Please let me know when they’ve been able to replicate the pleasure of discovery that I’ve described in the previous sentence.)

I knew there were thousands of artists who came to prominence in the classic rock era, many of whom, like Burton Cummings, were still touring and recording. Most of them were booking modestly sized venues and could use the help with word-of-mouth. Thus, the concept for Best Classic Bands was born. We flipped the switch in June 2015.

Cummings was selected by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences as the 2016 inductee into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. He was honored at the 45th annual JUNO Awards from the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta. He turned 76 on December 31, 2023.

Cummings is also a member of the Canadian Music HoF through his band the Guess Who (inducted in 1987). Says Cummings: “I’ve received many acknowledgements through the decades, but truthfully, I cannot say that any of them outweighs this one.”

Well done, sir.

Watch Cummings perform his biggest solo hit

Related: Our Album Rewind of the Guess Who’s American Woman

Bachman Cummings performing “American Woman” in Winnipeg, Aug. 28, 2021

Fast forward a few years… I finally got to see Cummings perform a solo show in NYC. He was outstanding.

Cummings played a single date in 2021 as part of a planned reunion tour with Bachman. But like many others, a lengthier tour was postponed due to the pandemic. They eventually performed a handful of shows in 2022. Should they schedule more, tickets will be available here and here. Meanwhile, Cummings continues to tour with his own band and is doing his first U.S. tour in years. Tickets for most of his shows available here. Bachman is touring in 2024 with his son, Tal, as Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Tickets available here and here.

The Guess Who remains one of the scores of glaring omissions from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Related: Listings for 100s of classic rock tours

Greg Brodsky

32 Comments so far

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  1. Cocopuff
    #1 Cocopuff 26 July, 2017, 10:20

    His solo shows are truly outstanding but if you want to get your socks knocked off, catch him with the full band.
    Also don’t be fooled by a band touring out there under the name Guess Who. It’s only the bass player and hired musicians. Not worth the price of admission. Hold out for that voice!

    Reply this comment
    • RedRoc
      RedRoc 1 January, 2018, 12:52

      Not only the bass player, but the drummer who is also a founding member of the original GW more than 50 years ago.

      Reply this comment
      • Lgbpop
        Lgbpop 1 January, 2024, 18:35

        Garry Peterson? I didn’t know he even was still around. I thought he hung it up about the time Jim Kale did, five years ago.

        Reply this comment
    • Herb
      Herb 1 January, 2022, 11:31

      Original drummer too, but basically a tribute band

      Reply this comment
  2. Jack
    #2 Jack 2 January, 2018, 03:15

    This is definitely a great concept. Except for a very small handful of classic rockers, McCartney, the Stones, and a few others, who get the major media attention, this is the only place to get an all-inclusive information dump of touring classic era bands. To get the saMe information, you would have to join hundreds of website mailing lists. I know I’ve gotten information from BCB that I would never have gotten with the everyday media that I follow. Well done, keep up the good work. Also, on a side note, and this comes from someone who is not a big Guess Who fan, but a music lover in general, isn’t it time that the Guess Who make The Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame? They need to take a five year break from inducting the more modern acts and go back and induct the acts they’ve missed. There are a lot of folks who have been overlooked.

    Reply this comment
    • Greg Brodsky
      Greg Brodsky Author 2 January, 2018, 10:59

      Many thanks, Jack! The problems with the Rock Hall induction process is multi-faceted. In order to be on the list of nominees, an act must first have an advocate on the nominating committee. (Its members are a closely held secret.) Thus, someone has to put forth a specific name or band and argue their merits for the committee to consider.

      One positive factor is the influence that the Foundation currently has with HBO. The network all but requires big names for their broadcast and that’s why we’ve been seeing many long overdue acts like Deep Purple, Yes, ELO, Steve Miller Band, Journey, Cheap Trick, and so on, finally getting in decades after they were first eligible.

      The Guess Who are certainly on a list of bands worthy of consideration but IMHO they’re gonna need an internal champion on that committee and they’re still roadblocked by dozens of others that are still overlooked.

      Reply this comment
      • Jack
        Jack 2 January, 2018, 17:32

        Thanks Greg. You know, the whole RRHOF nominating and induction process would make a great piece. Unless I damaged a lot more brain cells than I thought back in the day, I have never heard what the exact process for getting into the Hall is. It seems that some young, dynamic, hard working, gum-shoe of a journalist could put together a great piece explaining what the process is. GREG, I’M LOOKING AT YOU!!!!!!

        Reply this comment
        • Jeff Tamarkin
          Jeff Tamarkin 2 January, 2018, 18:56

          The only requirement they’ve ever really made public is that an artist has to have recorded for the first time 25 years earlier (or more). Other than that, it seems to be open to their whims.

          Reply this comment
      • Espogallo
        Espogallo 1 January, 2024, 14:46

        Both the RRHOF and the songwriter hall of fame are a joke! It’s (like so many other things these days) all political. I was actually told by someone who is on one of these boards that Burton hasn’t written enough songs to be recognized. In the meantime I check every year and most, not all, of the names I see I don’t even recognize nor do I recognize their songs. It truly is a travesty. And the same for the RRHOF – how do these people or groups even qualify. It’s beyond my comprehension!!!! I don’t know how old this article is or if you will see this but I had to vent. Thanks!

        Reply this comment
        • Greg Brodsky
          Greg Brodsky Author 1 January, 2024, 18:00

          Espogallo… We recycle this story each year to celebrate Burton’s birthday. The Rock Hall’s nominating process is the antithesis of transparent: they never public reveal who’s on it the very small committee, and then never share the actual voting totals for who made it and who missed it. The annual Induction classes have been moving away from true “rock & roll” for many years now.

          Reply this comment
        • Lgbpop
          Lgbpop 1 January, 2024, 18:47

          Overlooking the Guess Who because Burton Cummings didn’t write enough songs is BS. From 1965 ’til 1970, Randy Bachman was the primary songwriter and backup vocalist for the Guess Who. He recruited Cummings from the Deverons, when he heard the teenager rear back and loose one mind-blowing vocal after another. Bachman figured Cummings was the missing piece of his puzzle which could move the Winnipeg Wonders into a major rock group. Between Bachman and Cummings, their production is immense. The RRHOF should hang their heads.

          Reply this comment
    • JCB
      JCB 1 January, 2019, 07:43

      Amen Jack. They should have been in years ago. The RRHOF is a fraud. Been there, so many great bands / artists are not in there, but Grandmaster Flash is. The place is a friggin joke.

      Reply this comment
      • Bob
        Bob 31 December, 2023, 15:30

        It is a rotten shame, or used to be. Now the “Hall” is just a joke. While the Guess Who is snubbed, one hit wonders get in. One can only laugh at the asinine and disgraceful process.

        Reply this comment
  3. Bluzrider
    #3 Bluzrider 1 January, 2020, 07:54

    Well thank you Mr. Cummings:

    This is the best Classic Rock and Roll site on the internet. The interviews and the milestone marks that “Best Classic Bands” covers makes this site the go-to site for information on tours, and artists, that so far nobody else can compete with.

    What makes it the best is that their DJ’s and writers were there when most of the heyday of “Classic Rock and Roll” was being played out. Other so-called “Classic Rock and Roll” sites are written by people a lot younger who fail to keep their stories fresh and interesting. You can tell that their writers are all of a younger age.

    That makes all the difference in the world.

    Reply this comment
  4. DrBOP
    #4 DrBOP 1 January, 2020, 10:47

    Best On The Net
    Best Newsletter
    Thank-you Burton
    Thank-you Greg

    You put a smile
    on the dial
    Thanks again for ALL that you do.

    Reply this comment
  5. bcdeuce55
    #5 bcdeuce55 1 January, 2021, 09:18

    I discovered that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was a joke when I learned that ABBA was a member. ABBA never did anything notable that could remotely be identified as Rock ‘n Roll.

    Reply this comment
  6. Bob A
    #6 Bob A 1 January, 2021, 10:32

    I echo everybody’s thoughts. I pass along info to my peeps where I think they might be interested.

    Keep up the good work, Mr. Brodsky.

    Reply this comment
  7. v2787
    #7 v2787 1 January, 2022, 11:09

    So Madonna and Patty Smythe are in the RRHOF, but the Guess Who and Paul Revere and the Raiders aren’t? There is no justice in this world.

    Reply this comment
  8. Yvette
    #8 Yvette 6 June, 2023, 00:58

    I Always Liked the sound of the Guess Who. I actually saw Paul Revere and the Raiders in Downtown San Jose some (quite a few) years ago.. The earlier comment about Tower Records I am in total agreement.. When Tower Record stores closed all over the Bay Area, they left a real void for the true record store enthusiast. There was no longer a place to hang out for hours and enjoy the great music collections and to flip thru those bins and find that one great album!! Never again will it be the same without TOWER RECORDS… Rock On!

    Reply this comment
  9. Patrick
    #9 Patrick 6 June, 2023, 10:54

    I grew up in Detroit and had the pleasure of seeing The Guess Who three or four times. The I got to see The Guess Who with Cummings AND Randy Bachman on their reunion tour about 2005.
    I’ve always been a big fan. Their omission from the RRHOF is a travesty and makes it hard to take them seriously as an authority.

    Reply this comment
  10. Dr. Bristol
    #10 Dr. Bristol 6 June, 2023, 10:56

    The true rock and roll Hall of Fame is in your soul, your heart and your record collection.

    Reply this comment
  11. 122intheshade
    #11 122intheshade 6 June, 2023, 13:49

    The Guess Who should be in the RRHoF just for their sense of humor.

    And their music was awesome, too. Even on Dynaflex vinyl.

    Reply this comment
  12. Rocking Horse
    #12 Rocking Horse 1 January, 2024, 03:36

    I had a ticket to the most recent Bachman/Cummings concert at the beginning of the pandemic. It was postponed 3 times and then finally cancelled for good. So disappointed.. Hope they tour together again

    Reply this comment
  13. ebj
    #13 ebj 1 January, 2024, 09:49

    I love your emails and website. It is amazing! I love the reason you started it as a huge fan of Burton I saw him at the WolfDen years ago when he first started touring the US alone and I was in heaven. Even moreso when I was disappointed he didnt do the song from Melanie “saved my soul” I was lucky enough to have a friend get me to dressing room and get to spend time with him as my friend recorded the moment when I asked him why he didnt sing that song and he said it was because Americans didnt know it much. I said can you just hum a few bars for me. And he just immediately started singing the whole song acapella to me! I could have died right then happy! He hugged me sweat and all! I mean the nicest guy ever! I was so glad because when you meet people you idolized and they turn out to be jerks it is so disappointing. BUT Burton is a class(ic) act. Have seen him now about 30 times since then. With and without the reunions. Just a gem! Every midnight I wait for your email! Thank you!

    Reply this comment
  14. Barry Mac
    #14 Barry Mac 1 January, 2024, 20:57

    Always enjoy reading about Burton, one of the absolute best voices in the history of rock ‘n roll. I still recall his comment from many years ago about replacing Kurt Winter and Donnie McDougall with Domenic Troiano, that as great a guitarist as Domenic was, it completely changed the sound of The Guess Who. And he was right. That said, even though I liked some of his solo material, he did better working with bandmates, whether it was Bachman, Winter, or Troiano.

    Reply this comment
  15. Litsii
    #15 Litsii 13 June, 2024, 10:28

    Greg your work has been pure pleasure – I look forward to your emails each day, website is a treasure vault of information. Thank you!! Happy anniversary BCB!

    Reply this comment

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