Bachman-Cummings hits a town near you this summer. Who they? Only the guitarist and frontman for the Guess Who–one of Canada's most successful rock acts ever. Fans still clamour for Guess Who staples such as “American Woman” (the first Canadian rock song to hit No. 1 in the United States), most of which were penned by Randy Bachman, 62, and Burton Cummings, 59. So why the name change?
Turns out neither owns the rights to the Guess Who name. Original bassist Jim Kale registered the name in the late '70s without either Bachman or Cummings realizing it, and he still tours the U.S. under that banner. Having missed the challenge period, the band's main two forces have no way of getting it back, short of buying it. “I wish there was a court of fair play,” says Bachman. “Challenging it would be just a quagmire, so we go on as Bachman-Cummings. It's looking very good so far.”
And why shouldn't it? Both artists have a huge repertoire of their own songs, which are currently getting more radio airplay, due to the rise of retro-rock play lists. Songs like “Takin' Care of Business” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive or “Stand Tall” by Cummings are Canadian radio staples. Both feature in the Bachman-Cummings Songbook album, a compilation of their best work, culled from master tapes. The album spent two weeks in Canada's Top 10 in May, and only recently dropped out of the Top 20.
Cummings' longtime manager Lorne Saifer says the exercise is less about rebranding aging rockers as it is about showing “the public who they really are.” How far can they take the concept? “As far as how hard Burton and Randy want to work.” Australia and Brazil have expressed interest, and a DVD is coming this September. And one thing's for sure: 2006 will be at least one more summer lost to rock 'n' roll for Bachman and Cummings.