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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 76)
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • piano
  • flute
Years active1965–present
Cheryl DeLuca
(m. 1981)

Burton Lorne Cummings OC OM (born December 31, 1947) is a Canadian musician. He is best known for leading The Guess Who during that band's most successful period from 1965 to 1975, and for a lengthy solo career.[3][4]

Cummings has been inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, and has been cited as one of the most influential performers in Canadian rock music.[5] He has also been named as an officer of the Order of Canada and Order of Manitoba.[6] The Burton Cummings Theatre and Burton Cummings Community Centre in Winnipeg are named in his honour.[7]


Early years[edit]

Cummings was born and raised in Winnipeg by his mother and maternal grandparents, after his father left the family during his infancy.[8][9] He attended St. John's High School but dropped out at age 17 to pursue a career in music;[10] the school granted him an honorary diploma in 2010.[11]

In 1964 Cummings joined local R&B band the Deverons (not to be confused with an American group called the Devrons) on piano and vocals. The Deverons released two singles locally in Winnipeg.[12] In early 1966, shortly after his 18th birthday, Cummings joined another regionally successful band, Chad Allan & The Expressions, to replace departed keyboardist Bob Ashley.[13] Cummings also took on lead vocal duties in conjunction with group leader Chad Allan.[14]

This group had been subjected to a record company publicity stunt in which their 1965 hit single "Shakin' All Over" was released anonymously with the message "Guess Who?" to trick listeners into thinking it was by a famous British Invasion band.[13] Disc jockeys announced the single as being by someone called "Guess Who?", forcing the group to accept the nickname; their latest releases had been issued under the name Chad Allan & The Expressions with "Guess Who?" displayed prominently on the covers.[15]

With The Guess Who[edit]

A few months after Cummings joined Chad Allan & The Expressions, Allan left his namesake band, leaving Cummings as the sole singer.[14][16] The band's name was changed to simply The Guess Who, with Cummings becoming one of the band's primary songwriters in conjunction with guitarist Randy Bachman. Their first album under this name was It's Time in the summer of 1966.[17]

The band became internationally successful upon the release of their album American Woman in 1970, which reached the top ten in several countries and made The Guess Who the first Canadian band to achieve a number one single in the United States.[18] Bachman then left The Guess Who, and Cummings continued to lead the band through several more internationally successful albums.[19] Cummings and drummer Garry Peterson were the only consistent members of the band during this era. Cummings disbanded The Guess Who in 1975 due to songwriting disagreements with guitarist Dominic Troiano.[13]

Solo career[edit]

After leaving The Guess Who, Cummings embarked on a solo career; his self-titled debut solo album was released in 1976 and reached the top ten on the Canadian albums chart.[20] The single "Stand Tall" was an international hit and sold more than one million copies in the United States.[21][22] In 1977 he was presented with a Juno Award as best male vocalist.[23] Also in 1977 he provided backing vocals for the Eric Carmen album Boats Against the Current,[24] and released his second solo album My Own Way to Rock.[25]

His 1978 album Dream of a Child sold more than 300,000 copies in Canada, making it one of the country's highest-selling albums up to that point.[26] Due to a dispute with his record label, his 1980 album Woman Love was not released in the United States but was another substantial hit in Canada that earned Cummings another Juno Award.[27] The 1981 album Sweet Sweet was much less successful.[20] Cummings also dabbled in acting during this period, with an appearance in the film Melanie in 1982.[28] Cummings joined a short reunion tour of the classic Guess Who lineup in 1983,[29] which resulted in the live album Together Again! (known as The Best of The Guess Who - Live! in the United States).[30] The solo albums Heart (1984) and Plus Signs (1990) were moderately successful in Canada.[20]

Cummings performing with his band at Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut, 2011

After an extended break from recording, Cummings released the live album Up Close and Alone in 1997, featuring songs from throughout his career performed on solo piano.[31] Cummings then convened another reunion of The Guess Who for an extensive nostalgia tour from 2000 to 2003. In July 2003 the group performed before an estimated audience of 450,000 at the Molson Canadian Rocks for Toronto SARS benefit concert. The show was the largest outdoor ticketed event in Canadian history.[32]

Cummings performing in Victoria, British Columbia, 2008

In 2004, Cummings released the one-off single "With God on Our Side", a Bob Dylan cover, which reached no. 29 on the Canadian singles chart.[33] In 2006, Cummings and Randy Bachman started a new duo project backed by the Canadian rock band The Carpet Frogs, but were unable to use the name The Guess Who, which had been trademarked by bassist Jim Kale.[34] The project became known as the Bachman-Cummings Band or simply Bachman-Cummings, and performs occasionally whenever both men are available.[35] They released the covers album Jukebox in 2007[36] and most recently performed live in 2020.[35] They have been selected to perform for a celebration of Manitoba's 150th anniversary, to take place after delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.[37]

The Carpet Frogs have also served as Cummings's solo band. In 2008, Cummings released his first all-new solo album in 18 years, Above the Ground.[38] In 2017 he released a book of poetry titled The Writings of B. L. Cummings, which sold successfully in Canada.[39] He returned to solo performances in 2019, with shows featuring cover songs and original songs from throughout his career with The Guess Who and as a solo artist.[40][41]


Star for Cummings and The Guess Who on Canada's Walk of Fame

Throughout his career, Cummings has won five RPM Awards, six Juno Awards, 22 SOCAN Awards, three BMI America Awards, and a Genie Award.[42][43]

In 2001, Cummings and the rest of The Guess Who received honorary doctorates from Manitoba's Brandon University, which Cummings considered a singular honour as a high school dropout.[44] That year Cummings also won three SOCAN Classic Awards.[45][46]

On December 30, 2009, Cummings was named an officer of the Order of Canada by Governor General Michaëlle Jean, to mark a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to community, and service to the nation.[47] On June 28, 2011, Cummings was awarded with a star on Canada's Walk of Fame; he had previously received a star as a member of The Guess Who in 2001.[48] He was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2016,[49] and received a SOCAN lifetime achievement award in 2018.[50]

Personal life[edit]

Cummings married Cheryl DeLuca on September 22, 1981. They have no children.[51] He lived in Sherman Oaks, California, for many years until moving to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, in 2017.[52] He is part owner of the Winnipeg-based restaurant chain Salisbury House.[53] In May 2018, Cummings was involved in a serious car crash in Los Angeles that required physical and mental therapy and the cancellation of several weeks of performances.[54][55][56]



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[57]
1976 "Stand Tall" 1 4 10 2 5 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" singles only
"A Few Good Moments"

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. ^ "Biography". YAMAHA. Retrieved July 8, 2022.
  4. ^ "Burton Cummings to be inducted into Canadian Music Hall of Fame". Global News. Global. January 25, 2016. Retrieved July 8, 2022.
  5. ^ "Burton Cummings | The Canadian Encyclopedia". www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca. Retrieved September 6, 2021.
  6. ^ "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.
  7. ^ "364 SMITH STREET WALKER THEATRE" (PDF). City of Winnipeg HISTORICAL BUILDINGS COMMITTEE. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 22, 2014.
  8. ^ Mike Doherty. "Burton Cummings, Poet and Player." Maclean's Magazine, October 30, 2012. [1]
  9. ^ Squire, J. P. (October 18, 2017). "Review: Burton Cummings young at heart". Daily Courier. Retrieved September 6, 2021.
  10. ^ "Burton Cummings gets high school diploma – Rock icon honoured by his former Winnipeg school". CBC News. CBC. June 28, 2010. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  11. ^ "Guess Who Finally Graduated?" Macleans, July 19, 2010, p. 10.
  12. ^ "Manitoba Music Museum". Manitoba Music Museum. Retrieved September 6, 2021.
  13. ^ a b c Einarson, John. American Woman: The Story of The Guess Who; Quarry Press, Ontario, Canada, pp. 35–39
  14. ^ a b "Canadian Bands.com - Chad Allan & The Expressions". www.canadianbands.com. Archived from the original on October 19, 2021. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  15. ^ "American Woman". Chad Johnson (January 1, 2014). CliffsNotes to Guitar Songs. Hal Leonard. pp. 15–. ISBN 978-1-4803-8467-5.
  16. ^ Greg Metzer (May 21, 2008). Rock Band Name Origins: The Stories of 240 Groups and Performers. McFarland. pp. 93–. ISBN 978-0-7864-3818-1.
  17. ^ Shakin' All Over/Hey Ho/It's Time at AllMusic. Retrieved September 01, 2015.
  18. ^ Adam White & Fred Bronson (1988). The Billboard Book of Hits. Billboard Books. ISBN 0-8230-8285-7.
  19. ^ Huey, Steve. "The Guess Who Biography, Songs, & Albums". AllMusic. Archived from the original on July 20, 2013. Retrieved September 6, 2021.
  20. ^ a b c Burton Cummings - Burton Cummings | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic, retrieved February 27, 2021
  21. ^ Bush, John. "Burton Cummings Biography, Songs, & Albums". AllMusic. Archived from the original on November 30, 2014. Retrieved September 6, 2021.
  22. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–2001. Record Research. p. 68.
  23. ^ Martin Melhuish (April 23, 1977). "Juno 1977". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. pp. 76–. ISSN 0006-2510.
  24. ^ Boats Against the Current - Eric Carmen | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic, retrieved September 6, 2021
  25. ^ My Own Way to Rock - Burton Cummings | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic, retrieved September 6, 2021
  26. ^ Pettipas, Keith. "Burton Cummings: Dream of a Child". AllMusic. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  27. ^ Woman Love - Burton Cummings | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic, retrieved September 6, 2021
  28. ^ "Melanie (1982)". IMDb.com. February 12, 1982.
  29. ^ "Guess Who - 1983 - Reunion soundboard@320". Guitars101 - Guitar Forums. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  30. ^ Together Again - The Guess Who | User Reviews | AllMusic, retrieved February 27, 2021
  31. ^ Up Close and Alone - Burton Cummings | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic, retrieved September 6, 2021
  32. ^ "CBC News – Toronto Rocked". Cbc.ca. Archived from the original on July 27, 2009. Retrieved April 18, 2014.
  33. ^ "Music Chart". Yamaha.com. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  34. ^ "Great Guess Who divide embodies one of rock's oldest dilemmas". January 20, 2016. Retrieved January 16, 2021.
  35. ^ a b Blistein, Jon (March 9, 2020). "Randy Bachman, Burton Cummings Announce First U.S. Tour Together in a Decade". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on March 10, 2020. Retrieved September 6, 2021.
  36. ^ Jukebox - Bachman Cummings | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic, retrieved September 6, 2021
  37. ^ "Concert celebrates 150th anniversary of Manitoba joining Confederation - Winnipeg". Retrieved August 29, 2021.
  38. ^ Above the Ground - Burton Cummings | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic, retrieved September 6, 2021
  39. ^ Ivor Levene
  40. ^ "Burton Cummings' Up Close and Alone tour offers more intimate rock 'n roll setting". Peninsula News Review. October 4, 2019. Retrieved August 21, 2021.
  41. ^ Squire, J. P. (October 21, 2019). "Review: Cummings performs Greatest Hits Vol. 2". Daily Courier. Retrieved August 21, 2021.
  42. ^ "Burton Cummings". Canada's Walk of Fame. Retrieved July 8, 2022.
  43. ^ "Burton Cummings Awards". Burton Cummings. Retrieved July 8, 2022.
  44. ^ "Canadian rock 'icons' get honourary degrees". CBC News. May 28, 2001. Retrieved September 6, 2021.
  45. ^ Larry LeBlanc (December 8, 2001). "SOCAN recognized McLaughlin, Klees, Bachman and Cummings". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. pp. 74–. ISSN 0006-2510.
  46. ^ "The Guess Who, Murray McLauchlan Win Big At SOCAN"[usurped]. Chart Attack, November 20, 2001
  47. ^ "Order of Canada adds 57 names". CBC News. December 30, 2009. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  48. ^ "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.
  49. ^ CTV Winnipeg (April 4, 2016). "Burton Cummings inducted into Canadian Music Hall of Fame, dedicates award to Winnipeg". CTV News. Retrieved December 12, 2022.
  50. ^ "29th Annual SOCAN Awards Honoured Canada's Best In Class". FYIMusicNews. June 19, 2018. Retrieved September 6, 2021.
  51. ^ "Burton Cummings, poet and player". MACLEAN'S. October 30, 2012. Retrieved July 6, 2022.
  52. ^ "Running back to ... Moose Jaw? Guess Who frontman Burton Cummings finds new home in Sask". CBC. December 15, 2018. Retrieved November 8, 2019.
  53. ^ "History | Salisbury House". salsmb. Retrieved September 6, 2021.
  54. ^ "Burton Cummings Recovering After A "Very Bad" Car Crash". FYIMusicNews. May 18, 2018. Retrieved September 6, 2021.
  55. ^ Rollasan, Kevin (May 16, 2018). "Singer Cummings hurt in L.A. crash 'I'm going to have to get some help getting over the shock'". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved July 8, 2022.
  56. ^ Lewis, Haley (June 19, 2018). "Burton Cummings in good spirits after car accident in May". CBC News. Retrieved July 8, 2022.
  57. ^ 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.
  58. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  59. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 62.

External links[edit]