Burton Cummings

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Burton Cummings
Cummings in 2011
Cummings in 2011
Background information
Birth nameBurton Lorne Cummings
Born (1947-12-31) December 31, 1947 (age 73)
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
GenresRock, soft rock[1][2]
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • piano
  • flute
Years active1965–present
Associated actsThe Guess Who, Bachman Cummings, The Deverons, Tim Thorney, Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band, The Carpet Frogs

Burton Lorne Cummings, OC OM[3] (born December 31, 1947) is a Canadian musician, singer and songwriter.

Cummings is the former lead singer and keyboardist for the Canadian rock band The Guess Who. During his decade in the band, from 1965 to 1975, he sang, wrote or co-wrote many hit songs, including "American Woman," "No Time", "Share the Land", "Hand Me Down World", "Laughing", "Star Baby", "New Mother Nature", "These Eyes", and "Clap for the Wolfman". His solo career includes many hit singles, including "Stand Tall", "My Own Way to Rock", "Fine State of Affairs", and "You Saved My Soul".[citation needed]


Cummings was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, as were all other original members of The Guess Who. He was brought up by his mother Rhoda and her parents; he never knew his father, who left when he was less than a year old.[4] Cummings attended St. John's High School.[5] He dropped out of school at the age of 17, due to poor grades and a desire to pursue his musical ambitions. Forty-five years later, in 2010, his former high school awarded him an honorary diploma.[6] His first band was a local Winnipeg R&B group, The Deverons, with an 'E' (not to be confused with the band The Devrons who had Country/R&B hits in the early 1960s). The Deverons with Cummings released two singles on the tiny REO Records label. The first single, "Blue Is The Night / She's Your Lover", was cut at a Winnipeg radio station. The second single, "Lost Love / Feel Alright", was recorded at Kay Bank Studios in Minneapolis, where The Guess Who frequently recorded. In December 1965 he was asked by The Guess Who to join the band, originally as a replacement for recently departed keyboardist Bob Ashley. By May 1966 Cummings had assumed the role of lead singer, a position vacated by original front man Chad Allan who left the group that April.[citation needed]

Success with The Guess Who[edit]

Between 1966 and 1968, The Guess Who was one of the hardest-working bands in Canada. Despite having released several strong singles that charted in Canada, a hugely successful split LP (A Wild Pair, which also featured Ottawa's The Stacattos who would later become Five Man Electrical Band), and a weekly stint as house band on CBC-TV's Let's Go!, mainstream success eluded them until early 1969. That year, The Guess Who scored an international hit with "These Eyes", co-written by Cummings and guitarist Randy Bachman. It was followed up by the hit "Laughing", which recorded a million radio plays, again written by Cummings and Bachman. Cummings revealed in a Howard Stern radio interview that he and Bachman had written "Laughing" in 20 minutes while on their bus on the ferry from Vancouver to Vancouver Island. Another Guess Who song, "Undun", written by Bachman, featured Cummings on a jazzy flute solo. In 1970, the band hit No. 1 in both Canada and the U.S. with the Bachman-Cummings-Kale-Peterson composition "American Woman."[citation needed]

Ultimately, conflict between Cummings and bandmate Randy Bachman—partially ignited by Bachman's then-deepening Mormon religious beliefs—caused a rift in the band.[7] Bachman left (May 1970) and went on to form the band Brave Belt with former Guess Who mate Chad Allan, and later Bachman–Turner Overdrive.[citation needed]

Cummings then 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", "Clap for the Wolfman", and "Dancin' Fool".[citation needed]

Going solo[edit]

In October 1975 Cummings left The Guess Who after 10 years to become a solo artist, and the group disbanded. One of his first projects was providing back-up vocals on Eric Carmen's second solo LP, Boats Against the Current, including "She Did It". In 1977 he was presented with a Juno Award as best male vocalist.[8]

Cummings' subsequent hits in Canada included "Stand Tall," which was his greatest American solo hit, peaking at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number two on the Adult Contemporary chart.[9] Other hits included "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," as well as "I Will Play a Rhapsody," which spent a few weeks on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart, peaking at #38. His Dream of a Child album, released in 1978, was the biggest Canadian album in history at that time going triple platinum.[10] Cummings released a total of eight solo albums and collections from 1976 to 1994.[11] In 1997 he put out a live compilation album of his 2 solo performances of Dec 20 & 22nd 1995 titled Up Close and Alone, which was recorded at the Glenn Gould Theatre CBC building with producer Mark Berry in Toronto.[12]

Cummings also tried his hand at acting. Along with Paul Sorvino, Glynnis O'Connor and Don Johnson, he appeared in the 1982 Canadian film Melanie.[13] His songs "You Saved My Soul," "Real Good," and "Something Old, Something New" were featured in the film, and were also included on his 1981 album Sweet Sweet, which was released prior to the film.[citation needed]

Cummings became a resident of Sherman Oaks, California, and began writing and singing for films in the late 1970s. He currently resides in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.[14] Cummings purchased part of Winnipeg's Salisbury House restaurant chain with manager Lorne Saifer, and is also an avid comic book collector.[citation needed]

The Guess Who returns[edit]

In 2000 Cummings, Bachman, and original drummer Garry Peterson toured as The Guess Who. Bassist Jim Kale played one show and later Guess Who members Donnie McDougall and Bill Wallace rejoined the line-up through the remainder of the tour in Canada and later in the U.S. The reformed 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. That year Cummings won three SOCAN Classic Awards,[15][16] and was also made a member of the Order of Manitoba. In 2003, the band played at the so-called "SARSstock" concert in Toronto.[citation needed]


Cummings plays occasional shows with Randy Bachman as The Bachman-Cummings Band, featuring The Carpet Frogs (a band from Toronto), and makes appearances throughout North America 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 toolshed in British Columbia in 1987. Previously unreleased until 2006, it was made available exclusively at Bachman-Cummings concerts, and is now available on the Bachman-Cummings website.[citation needed]

The Bachman-Cummings First Time Around CBC TV Special was released on DVD in November 2006 on the Sony BMG label. In June 2007, Bachman and Cummings released an album titled Jukebox that covered various songs from the 1960s that influenced them. A follow-up album to Jukebox as well as a television special have also been discussed.[17] They last played together in 2009 at Casino Rama in Orillia, Ontario. Bachman has since rejoined with CF Turner. The last show of Bachman Cummings was summer of 2009 at a club now called Rebel and was for a private party and included the Carpet Frogs as the band.[citation needed]

During July 2019 Bachman and Cummings reunited for a one shot concert with no backing band at Casa Loma in Toronto, as a benefit for Canada's Walk of Fame. [18]

Later that summer Bachman attended Cummings' show at the CNE bandshell and played with Cummings and his band for three songs, American Woman, No Time and Takin' Care of Business. This led to speculation, including from Cummings himself, of a Bachman Cummings tour in 2020 which came to fruition, but has been postponed due to the Covid Pandemic.[19]

Burton Cummings Band[edit]

Cummings has toured solo as a one-man-band and with his back-up band, the Carpet Frogs of Toronto as of NYE 1999 when they played McPhillips Street station Casino Winnipeg, as the Burton Cummings Band or simply Burton Cummings in both Canada and the U.S. In 2012 Cummings released a new live CD Burton Cummings Live at Massey Hall recorded live on September 29, 2011. The album captures Cummings' live show of the last several years. Cummings continues to play live shows and already has some scheduled in 2020.

In 2019 he released three singles, available on streaming services and for digital download only. They are Market My Letters, A Few Good Moments and Sanity. He also released the albums Sweet Sweet and Heart which had previously only been available on vinyl, on Itunes and other streaming services.

Above the Ground[edit]

Outside of his work with Bachman, in November 2004 Cummings released a single "With God on Our Side", a cover of the famous Bob Dylan song. The single debuted at the 21st spot on the Canadian music internet music chart.[20]

On November 4, 2008, Cummings released his first solo album of new studio material in 18 years titled Above the Ground. The album has 19 tracks of original songs written by Cummings, some of which were written by him many years ago. The album was recorded with his touring band The Carpet Frogs. The release also includes a DVD with a behind-the-scenes look at the recording process. The first single from the album was "We Just Came from the U.S.A." Originally a Canadian-only release, Above the Ground is now available at Burton Cummings' website and on iTunes.[citation needed]

The Burton Cummings Theatre, located in downtown Winnipeg, is named after Cummings.

Cummings performing with his band at Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut, on July 2, 2011—this was the first concert of his U.S. tour

Order of Canada[edit]

On December 30, 2009, Cummings was named an officer of the Order of Canada by Governor General Michaëlle Jean. The Order of Canada is one of the country's highest civilian honours, and was established in 1967 to mark a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to community, and service to the nation.[21]

On the November 23, 2010 morning show episode of Canada AM, Cummings announced that he would be releasing a book of poetry in 2011, mentioning that he had been working on it for the past three years. He stated that the works of Kipling, Keats and Edgar Allan Poe were great inspirations to him during the writing process, adding, "I like to be influenced by the best." The collection, titled The Writings of B. L. Cummings, was released in mid-2017 and sold out. A second edition is in the works as of June 2017.[22]

On June 28, 2011, it was announced that Cummings will receive a star on Canada's Walk of Fame and will be inducted on October 1 at Elgin Theatre in Toronto. He previously received a star as part of The Guess Who in 2001.[23]


In 2016 Burton Cummings was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. In 2018 Burton Cummings was awarded a lifetime achievement award from SOCAN for his songwriting.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Burton Cummings married Cheryl DeLuca on September 22, 1981, at a small ceremony at old city hall in Toronto. He lived in Los Angeles for many years until moving to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan in 2017.[24]

Car crash 2018[edit]

On May 18, 2018, while driving in Los Angeles, Cummings was involved in a collision with another car. Cummings wrote on his Facebook page that he suffered minor cuts to his arms and a severe concussion. The other driver ran a red light, as proven by neighbouring security cameras, with his family and child in the car, and broadsided Cummings, forcing Cummings' car into a street pole. Though he was wearing a seat belt, Cummings hit his head on the windshield. Cummings has said in interviews that he frequently relived the crash and was considering therapy. Cummings returned to playing concerts in mid-June 2018.[25][26]

2019 Up Close and Alone Tour[edit]

From October to December 2019, Cummings toured Western Canada and Ontario performing his Up Close and Alone show, performing on stage with no backing band. On some Ontario shows, his backing band, The Carpet Frogs, did appear, but as the opening act, performing an acoustic set. Solo performer Spencer Burton opened some shows as well.

Shows were consistently sold out, with second shows being added in some cities. He performed many of his solo and Guess Who hits, along with songs from Gerry and the Pacemakers, Bobby Darin and The Platters. In some shows he performed Running Bear, the Johnny Preston song, that had been covered by the Guess Who on the album Rockin'. [27][28][29]



Year Album Chart positions CRIA
1976 Burton Cummings 5 32 30 2× Platinum
1977 My Own Way to Rock 4 83 51 2× Platinum
1978 Dream of a Child 11 203 3× Platinum
1980 Woman Love 4 Platinum
The Best of Burton Cummings 2× Platinum
1981 Sweet Sweet 36 Gold
1984 Heart 89
1990 Plus Signs 43 Gold
1994 The Burton Cummings Collection
1997 Up Close and Alone 29 Platinum
2008 Above the Ground 16
2012 Massey Hall


Year Single Chart positions Album
US Country AU[30]
1976 "Stand Tall" 1 4 10 2 7 Burton Cummings
1977 "I'm Scared" 6 43 61 10 69
"Timeless Love" 13 44 23 81 My Own Way to Rock
"My Own Way to Rock" 38 74
"Your Back Yard" 63
1978 "Break It to Them Gently" 1 9 85 Dream of a Child
1979 "I Will Play a Rhapsody" 3 20 38
"Takes a Fool to Love a Fool" 19 33
"Meanin' So Much" 14 75
"Draggin' 'Em Down the Line (Live with Henry Small)" 33 85 single only
1980 "Fine State of Affairs" 30 10 Woman Love
"One and Only" 48 78
1981 "You Saved My Soul" 12 31 37 22 47 Sweet Sweet
1982 "Mother Keep Your Daughters In" 24
"Something Old, Something New" 26
1984 "Love Dream" 23 Heart
1985 "Whatever Happened to Your Eyes" 27
1990 "Take One Away" 6 16 Plus Signs
"One Day Soon" 27 60
"The Rock's Steady" 97
"Free" 9 72
2004 "With God on Our Side/The Brycer" 29 single only
2008 "We Just Came from the U.S.A." Above the Ground
2019 "Market My Letters"
"A Few Good Moments"
"Sanity" singles only

Film Music[edit]

  • California Dreaming (1978)
    • "Among the Yesterdays" (Music by Fred Karlin / Lyrics by Robb Royer)
    • "Keep it in the Family" (Music and Lyric by Cummings)
  • Voices (1979)
    • "I Will Always Wait For You (Theme From Voices)" (Written by Jimmy Webb)
    • "On a Stage" (Written by Jimmy Webb)
    • "Drunk as a Punk" (Written by Jimmy Webb)
  • Melanie (1982)
    • "You Saved My Soul" (Written by Cummings)
    • "Real Good" (Written by Cummings)
    • "Something Old, Something New" (Written by Cummings)

Collaborations with Randy Bachman[edit]

  • 2006 Bachman-Cummings Songbook – Compilation that features tracks from The Guess Who, Burton Cummings and Bachman–Turner Overdrive
  • 2006 The Thunderbird Trax – A compilation of previously unreleased material recorded by Bachman and Cummings circa 1987
  • 2007 Jukebox – Bachman & Cummings album that features covers of songs by artists such as Bob Dylan, The Shadows and The Beatles

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine (November 4, 2008). "Above the Ground – Burton Cummings | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  2. ^ Artist Biography by John Bush (December 31, 1947). "Burton Cummings | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  3. ^ "Governor General Announces 57 New Appointments to the Order of Canada". Office of the Secretary to the Governor General. December 30, 2009. Retrieved December 30, 2009.
  4. ^ Mike Doherty. "Burton Cummings, Poet and Player." Maclean's Magazine, October 30, 2012. [1]
  5. ^ "Burton Cummings gets high school diploma – Rock icon honoured by his former Winnipeg school". CBC News. CBC. June 28, 2010. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  6. ^ "Guess Who Finally Graduated?" Macleans, July 19, 2010, p. 10.
  7. ^ Bachman bio at CBC.ca
  8. ^ Martin Melhuish (April 23, 1977). Juno 1977. Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 76–. ISSN 0006-2510.
  9. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–2001. Record Research. p. 68.
  10. ^ Pettipas, Keith. "Burton Cummings: Dream of a Child". AllMusic. AllMusic. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  11. ^ "Burton Cummings | Biography, Albums, Streaming Links". AllMusic. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  12. ^ Up Close and Alone - Burton Cummings | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic, retrieved January 11, 2021
  13. ^ anonymous (February 12, 1982). "Melanie (1982)". IMDb.
  14. ^ https://globalnews.ca/news/4770071/winnipeg-rock-icon-burton-cummings-living-the-quiet-life-in-moose-jaw/
  15. ^ Larry LeBlanc (December 8, 2001). "SOCAN recognized McLaughlin, Klees, Bachman and Cummings". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc.: 74–. ISSN 0006-2510.
  16. ^ "The Guess Who, Murray McLauchlan Win Big At SOCAN". Chart Attack, November 20, 2001
  17. ^ Sterdan, Darryl (June 7, 2007). "Cummings & Bachman cover faves". Canoe.ca. Retrieved April 12, 2009.
  18. ^ https://www.ctvnews.ca/entertainment/warm-memories-hit-singles-randy-bachman-and-burton-cummings-reunite-for-charity-show-1.4514883
  19. ^ https://bestclassicbands.com/burton-cummings-randy-bachman-reunion-12-8-19/
  20. ^ "Music Chart". Yamaha.com. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  21. ^ "Order of Canada adds 57 names". CBC News. December 30, 2009. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  22. ^ Ivor Levene
  23. ^ "Press Release: Canada's Walk of Fame Announces the 2011 Inductees". Canada's Walk of Fame. June 28, 2011. Archived from the original on July 10, 2011. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  24. ^ "Running back to ... Moose Jaw? Guess Who frontman Burton Cummings finds new home in Sask". CBC. December 15, 2018. Retrieved November 8, 2019.
  25. ^ Interviews on ET Canada
  26. ^ June 30 Concert at Casino Rama
  27. ^ 22
  28. ^ 23
  29. ^ 24
  30. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 79. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  31. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  32. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 62.

20. http://ultimateclassicrock.com/guess-who-burton-cummings-house/

21. https://www.google.ca/search?q=cummings+sells+salisbury+house&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-ca&client=safari

22. https://www.peninsulanewsreview.com/entertainment/burton-cummings-up-close-and-alone-tour-offers-more-intimate-rock-n-roll-setting/

23. http://www.kelownadailycourier.ca/entertainment/article_f5eed3d8-f489-11e9-83df-83e588600d35.html

24. http://www.kelownadailycourier.ca/entertainment/article_9a599b5c-b45d-11e7-84a4-679aef1fc481.html

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Chad Allan
Lead singer in The Guess Who Succeeded by
Terry Hatty