Burton Cummings was the lead singer and keyboardist for the Canadian rock band The Guess Who. From 1965 to 1975 he sang and wrote or co-wrote many of the Guess Who's songs including "American Woman," "No Time," "Share the Land," "Hand Me Down World," "Undun," "Laughing," "Star Baby," "New Mother Nature," and "These Eyes."
Burton also recorded many successful single records during his solo career, post-Guess Who.
Cummings was born and raised in the Canadian city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, as were all of the other original members of The Guess Who. His first band was a local Winnipeg R&B group The Deverons. He joined The Guess Who in 1965 to replace keyboardist Bob Ashley. Shortly after, the group's lead singer, Chad Allan, left the band.
In 1969, The Guess Who scored an international hit with "These Eyes," co-written by Cummings and guitarist Randy Bachman. It was followed up by hit "Laughing," again written by Cummings and Bachman. Another Guess Who song "Undun" featured Cummings on a jazzy flute solo. In 1970, the band hit no. 1 in Canada with "American Woman."
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Ultimately, personal issues between Cummings and bandmate Randy Bachman – partially ignited by Bachman's deepening religious beliefs—caused a rift in the band. Bachman left and went on to form the band Brave Belt with former Guess Who mate Chad Allan, and later Bachman–Turner Overdrive.
Cummings became the band's leader and recorded songs that included: "Share the Land," "Hand Me Down World," "Albert Flasher," "Rain Dance," "Sour Suite," "Glamour Boy," "Star Baby" and "Clap for the Wolfman."
In 1975, Cummings left The Guess Who to become a solo artist and the group disbanded. One of his first projects included providing back-up vocals on Eric Carmen's second solo LP, Boats Against the Current, including "She Did It."
Cummings' subsequent solo hits in Canada included "Stand Tall," his biggest American solo hit, peaking at #10, "I'm Scared," "Break it to Them Gently," and "Fine State of Affairs." Cummings charted outside Canada with "Stand Tall" and "You Saved My Soul." His Dream of a Child album released in 1978 was the best selling Canadian album in history at that time.
Cummings released a total of eight solo albums and collections from 1976 to 1990. In 1997 he released a live compilation album of his solo performances entitled Up Close and Alone.
Ironing out - or maybe papering over - their differences, in 2000, Cummings, Bachman and original drummer Garry Peterson toured as The Guess Who. Bassist Jim Kale played one show and former Guess Who sidemen Donnie McDougall and Bill Wallace re-joined the line-up through the remainder of the tour in Canada and later in the U.S. The reformed The Guess Who toured with Cummings from 2000 through to the summer of 2003.
In 2001, Cummings and the rest of The Guess Who received honorary doctorates at Brandon University in Brandon, Manitoba. Cummings was also made a member of the Order of Manitoba.
Cummings plays occasional shows with Randy Bachman as The Bachman-Cummings Band, featuring The Carpet Frogs, a band from Toronto and makes occasional appearances at various Canadian casinos as a solo performer.
The Bachman-Cummings Band have released a compilation album titled the Bachman-Cummings Song Book featuring songs from The Guess Who, Bachman–Turner Overdrive and Cummings' solo career. They have also released an album titled The Thunderbird Trax, which is an album that Cummings and Bachman recorded in Bachman's tool shed in British Columbia in 1987.