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Few performers can boast a set list as impressive as Bachman – Cummings. Collectively and individually, their catalogue is the envy of every artist. The Guess Who, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Burton Cummings solo; together theirs is the Great Canadian Songbook. These Eyes, Laughing, Undun, No Time, American Woman, No Sugar Tonight, Hand Me Down World, Share The Land, Albert Flasher, Glamour Boy, Star Baby, Clap For The Wolfman, Let It Ride, Takin’ Care Of Business, You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet, Hey You, Looking Out For #1, Stand Tall, I’m Scared, My Own Way To Rock, Break It To Them Gently, Fine State of Affairs, You Saved My Soul – and that’s only some of the dozens of gold and platinum hits between them. Bachman and Cummings wrote the soundtrack to the last 40 years of our lives.
Members of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, Canadian Broadcasters Hall of Fame, the Canadian Walk of Fame, the first ever inductees into the Prairie Music Hall of Fame, recipients of the Order of Canada, the Order of Manitoba, the Governor-General’s Performance Arts Award and several Broadcast Music Industry awards for over 1 million airplays, Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings are Canadian rock ‘n’ roll royalty. They made Canadian music international and in doing so paved the way for every Canadian artist who followed in their wake. “When American Woman reached number one in Billboard,” states Burton Cummings, “the stigma of Canada being inferior died forever. Someone had to do it first and I’m proud that it was us.”
Beginning with Shakin’ All Over in 1965, Canada’s original superstars the Guess Who went on to score an impressive string of hit singles and albums in the later 60s to mid 70s driven by the songwriting genius of Bachman and Cummings, whether alone or in collaboration, along with the distinctive voice of Burton Cummings, one of the finest vocalists in rock music. They brought their unique brand of “Wheatfield Soul” across Canada, North America and ultimately to the world. In 1970 American Woman became a rock anthem claiming the #1 spot on Billboard for three consecutive weeks.
Rolling Stone magazine dubbed the Guess Who “one of rock’s most consistently fascinating maverick bands, with a succession of meritorious songs that has few equals among contemporary North American groups.”
That same year Randy Bachman abruptly exited the Guess Who, re-emerging two years later fronting Bachman-Turner Overdrive, one of the most successful bands of the mid 70s. BTO’s brand of stripped down meat ‘n’ potatoes hard rock earned them legions of fans worldwide and dozens of gold and platinum records. You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet topped the charts in 27 countries and gave Randy that rarest of accomplishments: two #1 records with two different bands.
He followed this with a solo career that has included writing and recording with fellow Winnipegger Neil Young and a number of music projects, including the New Guitar Summit (Duke Robillard, Jay Geils and Gerry Beaudoin). In 2005 Randy began hosting what has become the most popular Saturday night CBC radio series of all time, Vinyl Tap.
Disbanding the Guess Who in 1975 Burton Cummings launched a dazzling solo career the following year with the million-selling single Stand Tall from his high-anticipated debut solo album produced by the one and only Richard Perry, superstar producer. As Canada’s #1 recording artist of the latter 70s Burton enjoyed unprecedented success with a dozen hit singles, Juno Awards, and several highly rated television specials. He also made his film debut in the 1980 movie Melanie. After a recording hiatus where he toured with The Beatles’ Ringo Starr, Burton returned with his enduringly popular solo concert series “Up Close and Alone” that yielded a live album of the same name. In 2008 Burton released his first-ever album of all original songs, Above the Ground to unqualified acclaim.
Following the phenomenal success of the much-heralded four-year Guess Who reunion, Bachman – Cummings decided in 2005 that the time was right to finally go out under their own names. “We’re the two guys who wrote and sang these songs and I think people know that and want to hear the real thing. Bachman – Cummings are out there delivering that,” says Burton. “At this stage in our lives we’re both thrilled to have this kind of career. Not all artists are lucky enough to have that kind of staying power. Randy and I are able to touch Guess Who, BTO and Cummings solo stuff. We still have an audience that wants to hear those songs done by the original guys. We found the response from the audience was even more than we could ever have hoped for.” Was there ever any doubt?
With a concert packed with all their best-known songs, fans and reviews have been nothing less than ecstatic. “Both Bachman and Cummings have achieved success on their own, but they both seem to recognize they’re at their best when they’re writing and performing together,” wrote the Edmonton Sun. “For Bachman and Cummings, what easily could have become an auto-pilot performance of songs they could do in their sleep turned out to be a bold, charming and even passionate performance. Cummings’ razor-sharp vocals blended beautifully with Bachman’s guitar licks which only seemed to have improved with age,” boasted the Ottawa Sun.
In 2005 Bachman – Cummings starred in the top-rated CBC television concert special First Time Around later released on DVD. This was followed by the release of the platinum-selling album The Bachman Cummings Songbook in 2006 marking the first ever pairing of their Guess Who, BTO and Cummings solo hits in one package. In 2007 Jukebox found the two digging through their own record collections to affectionately cover their personal favourite songs from bygone years.
“We are having more fun now,” adds Randy. “We hug each other and appreciate each other and the relationship we have. There is a lot of love and respect for each other. And I feel grateful to be accepted on his playing field. Here I am suddenly being treated as a credible singer, which is a joke to me, standing alongside the greatest voice in Canadian rock.
“Burton and I are like brothers. Working together with Burton again musically is like riding a bike, easy and fun, but with everyone clapping along as we do it. With every relationship there’s baggage. But Burton and I have learned to handle and carry that baggage. We wanted to move forward.” “Randy and I have rekindled a musical and personal friendship that goes beyond what most people have,” concludes Burton. “I feel lucky to have him in my life.”