Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings from The Guess Who are suing the band currently touring as The Guess Who for $20 million

Randy Bachman and a current Guess Who studio shot
(Image credit: Randy Bachman: Classic Rock Magazine | The Guess Who: Deko Entertainment)

Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings, both members of The Guess Who during their so-called 'classic era', are suing the current iteration of the band for $20 million, calling them a "hired cover band" who've concocted a "deceptive scheme" to mislead fans into thinking that the pair are still performing with the band.

“With this lawsuit, Randy [Bachman] and I hope to set the record straight and protect fans from imposters trying to rewrite history,” says Cummings. “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."

“Burton [Cummings] and I are the ones who wrote the songs and made the records," adds Bachman. "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.”

In the complaint, Bachman and Cummings accuse former bassist Jim Kale – who owns the band name – and longstanding drummer Garry Peterson of "removing images of Cummings and Bachman from the landing pages of music streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music and replacing them with pictures of the cover band in an effort to boost sales of tickets for live performances."

The lawsuit also alleges that Kate and Peterson have been using photographs that include Cummings and Bachman to convince fans that the "hired cover band" is the original The Guess Who, and that "Examples of the Cover Band’s false and misleading statements and conduct are widespread and rampant."  

In 2012, Kale told the Winnepeg Free Press, "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," he added. "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."

Bachman and Cummings are seeking in excess of $20 million in damages, and are asking for a court order that directs Kale and Peterson to "take corrective measures notifying the public and all venues where the cover band is playing with truthful advertising."  

The next show by the current version of The Guess Who is at The Lerner in Elkhart, IN, on November 3. The band's most recent album, Plein D'Amour, was released earlier this year.

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.