Guess Who Co-Founders Burton Cummings, Randy Bachman Sue ‘Cover Band’

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

Founding members of the Guess Who—Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman—have filed in federal court in Los Angeles a false advertising lawsuit in response to a group of hired musicians who have been touring and recording using the band’s name. In addition, according to the lawsuit, these hired musicians have been using photographs that include Cummings and Bachman to create the false impression that the hired cover band is the original Guess Who.

Jim Kale (a former bassist who was kicked out of the Guess Who in 1972), and Garry Peterson (the drummer who played with the group until it disbanded in 1975) are being sued for allegedly concocting a deceptive scheme that has falsely led fans into buying tickets for the cover band’s live shows and implying that Cummings and Bachman are performing at the shows when, in fact they have no affiliation with the cover band.

The lawsuit, filed October 30, 2023, also claims that Kale and Peterson have been removing images of Cummings and Bachman from the landing pages of music streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music and replacing them with pictures of the Guess Who cover band in an effort to boost sales of tickets for live performances. The suit additionally states the defendants have been using songs written by Cummings and Bachman to promote the cover band without obtaining proper licenses.

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.

Watch the Guess Who perform “American Woman” on The Midnight Special in 1974

The cover band’s actions are alleged to have impeded both Cummings’ and Bachman’s own ability to book live performances in the United States and tarnished the band’s legacy. The plaintiffs seek in excess of $20 million in damages as well as a court order directing Kale and Peterson to take corrective measures notifying the public and all venues where the cover band is playing with truthful advertising.

Bachman, who turned 80 on Sept. 27, teamed with Cummings for a series of 2022 reunion concerts (that had previously been postponed due to the pandemic) where they performed classic rock hits from the Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive as well as Cummings solo material. There was talk of more to come, but that appears to have subsided for now.

“With this lawsuit, Randy [Bachman] and I hope to set the record straight and protect fans from imposters trying to rewrite history,” says Cummings, who turns 76 on Dec. 31. “Even after we’re gone, the legacy of The Guess Who will live on, and we want to make sure that legacy is restored and preserved truthfully.”

Bachman adds, “Burton [Cummings] and I are the ones who wrote the songs and made the records. It’s Burton’s voice and my guitar playing on those albums. Anyone presenting and promoting themselves as The Guess Who are clones who are ripping off our fans and tainting the legacy of the band. It’s about time for the real story to come out.”

Bachman has recently resurrected the name Bachman-Turner Overdrive for concerts and has announced several dates for 2024. Tickets are available here and here. Cummings continues to tour as a solo artist. Tickets to see him are available here and here.

Best Classic Bands Staff

6 Comments so far

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  1. Batchman
    #1 Batchman 30 October, 2023, 19:53

    It’s not fair to legitimate cover bands (and tribute bands) to call what those two guys were doing a “cover band.” They were indulging in fraud plain and simple. Even the bands who called themselves Fleetwood Mac etc. were involved in legal struggles over the rights to the name. These two were just being deceptive.

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  2. Rocking Chair
    #2 Rocking Chair 31 October, 2023, 01:21

    Due to U.S. red tape and visa restrictions, Bachman-Cummings had to cancel their tour 3 times during the COVID pandemic. Now they can come to the U.S., they are not touring together. So disappointing!

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  3. Tyre
    #3 Tyre 31 October, 2023, 05:08

    Go Burton and Randy.. put a stop to this you’re entitled to it
    These guys been doing this too long and have watered the brand

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  4. Wylde Bill
    #4 Wylde Bill 3 November, 2023, 19:57

    I don’t know. Both those guys were in the original band. Yes it’s bogus to put out material feigning that B-C are in the group now and/or pretending their replacements were there in the day. If not for that, I’d say let it ride.
    I saw the Loving Spoonful without John Sebastian. Quite entertaining.

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    • Musk Ox
      Musk Ox 5 November, 2023, 17:20

      Bill they are using the images of Bachman and Cummings in their promotional materials to pretend they are in the Band to sell tickets which of course would sell tickets. It is fraud plain and simple for they have nothing to do with it. Also this is no different when Cook and Clifford toured as Creedence without Creedence. At least they called it Creedence Clearwater Revisted than Revival. Also Loving Spoonful were not pretending that Sebastian was in the reunion tour which is totally different and Sebastian did not object to them using the name.

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  5. Musk Ox
    #5 Musk Ox 5 November, 2023, 17:24

    These guys put out a new Guess Who album 5 years ago or so which was terrible. Using the name is fraud and no different than when Michael Clarke toured as the Byrds back in 1989 and 1990 forcing the others except Gene Clark to fight against that and do a few reunion shows too.

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