Burton Cummings

Live Albums

About Burton Cummings

Britain had Eric Burdon, America had John Fogerty, and Canada had Burton Cummings—the working-class hero with a blue-collar soul who represented a rugged, anti-glam antidote to the typical pretty-boy rock ‘n’ roll frontman. Born in Winnipeg in 1947, Cummings joined local British Invasion-inspired outfit Chad Allan & The Expressions as a keyboardist in 1965 at age 17, but after Allan left the group a year later, Cummings’ powerhouse pipes became the driving force of the group that would soon be rebranded as The Guess Who. With Cummings at the helm, The Guess Who became Canada’s first product of the ‘60s-rock boom to enjoy massive success in the U.S. and abroad, thanks in large part to their lead singer’s vocal versatility: Cummings could betray a wounded sensitivity on the lushly orchestrated ballad “These Eyes,” raging contempt on the anti-Vietnam War parable “American Woman,” and hoser bonhomie on the folk-rock mini-suite “No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature.” Even after founding Guess Who guitarist/songwriter Randy Bachman left in 1970, Cummings kept the group lodged in the charts by celebrating the sort of unglamorous, everyday events you didn’t normally hear famous rock bands sing about, like commuting (“Bus Rider”) and hanging out with auto mechanics in midsize Prairie cities (“Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon”). After leaving The Guess Who in 1975, Cummings found solo success as a master craftsman of towering soft-rock ballads (“Stand Tall”) and as a torchbearer for old-school, piano-pounding romps (“My Own Way to Rock”), before occasional reunions with Bachman and The Guess Who beckoned in the 2000s.

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
December 31, 1947

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