Guess Who? It’s Burton Cummings

Burton Cummings feels like a kid again when he sings and plays his vintage Guess Who material. “I think the audience feels the same way,” Cummings said while calling from his Los Angeles home. “The songs are like a time machine. They take you back. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve grown or aged, you’re back to where you were many years ago. They have that quality about them.” Such Guess Who classics as ‘American Woman,’ These Eyes’ and ‘Laughin’ hit the American charts. The Guess Who tunes not only struck a chord with fans but the songs were so different. The Canadian band had no problem going from big riff-rockers to ballads to gritty, rootsy numbers. “I think that we came up with such different stuff because each of us listened to very different music,” Cummings said. “Our background worked for us.” It worked for ten years. In 1975, Cummings tired of guitarist Randy Bachman’s embrace of Mormonism. The Guess Who, which were superstars in Canada and enjoyed a loyal fan base in America, splintered. “We had a good run and it was time to go solo,” Cummings said. “It was the right move.” Cummings, who will perform Wednesday at the Keswick Theater, recorded a number of solo albums and in 2000 he and Bachman reunited with original drummer Garry Peterson. “That was fun,” Cummings said. “We had a blast but it was time to do other things.” Cummings recorded an album with Bachman. They released a pair of albums as Bachman-Cummings but now Cummings is back as a solo artist. Expect him to render songs from every phase of his career. “You’ll hear a lot of Guess Who,” Cummings said. “The thing is that you’ll hear it like it was on the record. Nothing drives me as crazy as when recording artists revamp the hits live. That’s something I’m not crazy about. You’re so lucky to have hits. Why not stay true to them? The hits have given me a great life.” Cummings is an icon in Canada. The Burton Cummings Theater stands in his hometown of Winnipeg. He was named an officer of the Order of Canada. “That’s like being knighted,” Cummings said. “That’s an incredible honor. I enjoy all of the acknowledgements but the best thing is that I can still go out and play the songs. When I step out on the stage, that’s when the fun begins.”

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