Original Guess Who members Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings are suing their former and founding bandmates – bassist Jim Kale and drummer Garry Peterson – as well as the current lineup.
The suit, filed yesterday in Los Angeles, claims the current lineup, which occasionally includes Peterson, is “little more than a cover band,” and by using the band’s name, photos of the original lineup, and recordings that Bachman and Cummings appear on, has given “the false impression that Plaintiffs are performing as part of the cover band.”
Cummings tells Rolling Stone, “They’ve taken mine and Randy’s history, the history of the Guess Who, and stolen it to market their cheap ticket sales in their fake BS shows. It takes away everybody’s legitimacy.”
And Bachman adds, “It’s been going on for a long, long time, and we hear from fans who say they spent money on tickets and [Cummings and I] weren’t there. Enough is enough...
"The fans are getting ripped off over and over, and Burton and I lose because we can’t tour the Guess Who even though we want to. We wrote the music for this band and want to give it to the fans. The clones that are up there weren’t even alive when these were hits, it’s kind of a joke.
“It’s really tainted our legacy; it’s tarnished it. [Peterson] can be replaced by a drum machine; you can’t replace Burton Cummings’ voice — it’s the greatest rock voice out of Canada. My guitar playing was a one-of-a-kind thing I developed as a kid in Winnipeg. You can’t replace that, and if you do, why would you want to replace it when you can have the real thing?”
Cummings and Bachman say that "the ideal solution is that Peterson says he’ll retire and we pay him a percentage off the top, and we can lease the name forever or we buy it outright and we’re free to go on.”
In 2012, Kale, who owns the name, said, “Cummings signed off on the name in 1977 … and he hasn’t stopped his pissing and moaning ever since. What the hell do you think I was going to do, start a scrapbook? Here I was with a whopping grade 10 education and I don’t have a trade and I’m too old for a paper route. I gotta make a living…
“I’ll have a band of trained monkeys out there just to piss him off. I’m prepared to be that petty … I’m really, really sick of it. I’d love to take the high road, but I’m not going to. I’m his karma.”
Cummings and Bachman are seeking as much as $20 million in damages.
Ironically, Bachman is currently touring as Bachman-Turner Overdrive without any of the other original members, although Fred Turner and Blair Thorton have given their blessing.
And speaking of that tour, Bachman has added more dates next February in Deadwood and New Town, South Dakota; and March in Montclair, New Jersey; Westbury, New York; and Quincy, Massachusetts. Up next is Thursday in Los Angeles; Saturday in Indio, California; and Sunday in El Cajon, California.