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 couple 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 pissed. 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, 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 I love their prices. 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.

Related: Best Classic Bands’ Second Anniversary

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 70 on December 31, 2017.

Cummings is 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.

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

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

See if he’s on tour: here and here.

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Greg Brodsky

Greg Brodsky

Best Classic Bands Founder/CEO Greg Brodsky earned his first professional bylines as a reporter for the music trade weekly Record World. He still has all his vinyl albums and enjoys going to flea markets and garage sales to grow his collection.
Greg Brodsky
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7 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
  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.

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      • 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
  3. DigitalDave
    #3 DigitalDave 2 January, 2018, 06:05

    Dude, well said!

    Reply this comment

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