Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings Sue Ex-Guess Who Members over Alleged Cover Band Scheme

A group of hired musicians have been recording and touring as the Guess Who, allegedly in cahoots with Jim Kale and Garry Peterson

Photo: Burton Cummings by Shillelagh Music (left), Randy Bachman by Christie Goodwin (right)

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Oct 30, 2023

Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings, founding guitarist and frontperson of the Guess Who, have filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles federal court against former band members Jim Kale and Garry Peterson, as well as a group of hired musicians who have been recording and touring under the Guess Who name.

UPDATE (11/2, 11:49 a.m. ET): Cummings has shared a news clip from Evansville, IN's Eyewitness News from this weekend, which sees the so-called Guess Who having a backstage meet & greet with fans. "I don't know who any of these people are," the singer-songwriter wrote on X (formerly known as Twitter).

Bassist Kale was kicked out of the (real) Guess Who in 1972, while drummer Peterson played with them up until their 1975 disbandment. They have been named in the lawsuit for allegedly concocting a "deceptive scheme," using photos including the founding members to dupe people into buying tickets to see the cover band by creating the false impression that it was the real band featuring Bachman and Cummings, who allege they have "no affiliation" with the cover group.

The filing goes on to accuse Kale and Peterson of removing images of Bachman and Cummings from the band's landing pages on streaming platforms and replacing them with photos of the cover band "in an effort to boost sales," as well as using songs penned by Cummings and Bachman without obtaining the proper licenses. (As of this press time, the photo on the Guess Who's Spotify landing page is, in fact, not of the actual Guess Who, and features an "artist pick" from the cover band's latest album).

Cummings and Bachman claim that the other Guess Who's actions have impeded their ability to book live performances in the US and tarnished the iconic act's legacy. They're seeking an excess of $20 USD million in damages, and for Peterson and Kale to be court-ordered to take corrective measures by notifying the public and only using "truthful advertising" going forward.

"With this lawsuit, Randy [Bachman] and I hope to set the record straight and protect fans from imposters trying to rewrite history," Cummings said in a statement. "Even after we're gone, the legacy of the Guess Who will live on, and we want to make sure that legacy is restored and preserved truthfully."

Bachman added, "Burton [Cummings] and I are the ones who wrote the songs and made the records. It's Burton's voice and my guitar playing on those albums. Anyone presenting and promoting themselves as the Guess Who are clones who are ripping off our fans and tainting the legacy of the band. It's about time for the real story to come out."

The (actual) Guess Who's origins date back to 1958 in Winnipeg, stabilizing in 1962 under the name Chad Allan and the Reflections with the titular singer, as well as Bob Ashley on keyboard, Bachman on guitar, Kale on bass and Peterson on drums. They renamed themselves Chad Allan and the Expressions in 1965, but the band's Canadian label credited their first hit single, "Shakin' All Over," to the Guess Who? as a publicity stunt to convince people it was disguising a more established British Invasion band.

That same year, Cummings joined the band on keys to replace Ashely and take on co-lead vocal duty with Allan, who departed the band a few months later. His absence meant that the Chad Allan and the Expressions subtitle was dropped from subsequent releases, billing the band solely as the Guess Who? before they dropped the question mark in 1963. The Guess Who broke up in 1975, although Kale and/or Peterson have toured and recorded under the name off-and-on since 1977, predominantly with no other original members involved.

Latest Coverage