The Guess Who never quite achieved in the U.S. the kind of superstardom they had in their native Canada, but late 60s-early 70s hits like "These Eyes", "No Time" and "American Woman" are deeply ingrained in the consciousness of American rock.
The group had its roots in a band called Chad Allan And The Reflections, formed in Winnipeg, Canada, in 1962. The original line-up consisted of Allan, Jim Kale, Randy Bachman, Bob Ashley and Garry Peterson.
Their first single, "Tribute To Buddy Holly," was released on the Canadian-American label in Canada in 1962, and by 1965 the group had changed its name to Chad Allan And The Expressions and recorded a cover of Johnny Kidd and The Pirates' "Shakin' All Over," released on Quality Records in Canada and picked up by Scepter Records in the U.S.; it hit #1 in Canada and #22 in the States. Ashley left the group and was replaced by Burton Cummings, formerly of the Canadian group the Deverons, who shared lead vocal duties with Allan for a year. In 1965 the group released its first album, Shakin' All Over. In order to give the impression to potential buyers that the group was English, Quality printed "Guess Who?" on the cover, prompting the group to take those words as its new name. In 1966 Allan departed from the group, leaving Cummings as lead vocalist.
In 1967, the band had their first UK chart single with "His Girl." A brief, disorganized UK tour left the group in debt, and it returned to Canada, recording Coca-Cola commercials and appearing on the television program Let's Go. In 1968, with financial backing from producer Jack Richardson, the Guess Who recorded Wheatfield Soul in New York, released in Canada on Richardson's own Nimbus 9 label. The third single from the album, "These Eyes," written by Cummings and Bachman, reached #1 in Canada and earned the group a U.S. contract with RCA Records. The single reached #6 in the USA in spring of 1969. That year, the group's second album, Canned Wheat Packed By The Guess Who, also charted, as did "Laughing," the B-side of "These Eyes," itself a Top 10 hit, and "Undun," which reached number 22 in the U.S. The group also had another Top 5 single,"No Time."
In March 1970, the hard-rocking "American Woman" became the Guess Who's only U.S. #1. In July 1970, Bachman left the group, finding the group's rock lifestyle incompatible with his Mormon religion. He resurfaced first with Chad Allan in a new group called Brave Belt and finally with Bachman Turner Overdrive (minus Allan), which itself - ironically - became a popular hard rock group in the 70s. Bachman was replaced in the Guess Who by guitarists Kurt Winter and Greg Leskiw.
In 1972, Leskiw and Kale left the group, replaced by Don McDougall and Bill Wallace, respectively. In 1974, Winter and McDougall left, replaced by Domenic Troiano, former guitarist of the James Gang. That year, the single "Clap For The Wolfman," written for US disc jockey Wolfman Jack, reached #6 in the USA. It proved to be the group's final hit. In 1975 Cummings disbanded the Guess Who and began a solo career.
A 1983 Guess Who reunion aroused some interest and resulted in an album and concert video, and Bachman and Cummings toured together in 1987, although they failed to win large audiences. Though various line-ups continue to tour under the Guess Who name, a successful reunion of the original members took place in the new millennium.