Ex-Guess Who Members Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings Launch False Advertising Lawsuit Against Former Bandmates

Two co-founding members of The Guess Who, lead guitarist Randy Bachman and singer/keyboardist Burton Cummings, filed a lawsuit in a federal court in Los Angeles on Monday, October 30, charging that the current version of the band has been engaging in false advertising and seeking $20 million in damages.

Videos by American Songwriter

The band’s other two founding members, drummer Gary Petersen and bassist Jim Kale, currently control the rights to the group’s name, while Petersen is the only original member still playing in The Guess Who.

[RELATED: Bachman-Turner Overdrive Reunite, Set to Tour U.S. Fall 2023]

In their lawsuit, Bachman and Cummings, who haven’t toured with The Guess Who since 2003, are suing the current incarnation of the band, along with Petersen and Kale, claiming that they “have been using photographs that include Cummings and Bachman to create the false impression.” The suit describes this as “the hired cover band” is “the original The Guess Who.”

A press statement from Bachman and Cummings says that the two musicians further charge Kale and Peterson with allegedly “concocting a deceptive scheme that has falsely led fans into buying tickets for the cover band’s live shows and implying that Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman are performing at the shows when, in fact they have no affiliation with the cover band.”

The suit also claims that songs written by Bachman and Cummings have been used to promote The Guess Who’s current version without the defendants having obtained the proper licenses, among other charges.

In addition, the lawsuit claims that the current Guess Who’s actions have damaged the band’s legacy and hindered Bachman and Cummings’ to line up concerts in the U.S.

In addition to the millions in damages Bachman and Cummings are seeking, they want a court order instructing Kale and Peterson to make clear that Bachman and Cummings aren’t part of the group when advertising shows for the current band.

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

Adds Bachman, “Burton 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.”

Cummings sang all of the Canadian rock band’s biggest hits, while many of those tunes were either written by Bachman or co-written by just the two of them, including “These Eyes,” “Laughing,” “Undun,” and “No Time.”

Since they last played with The Guess Who as part of a 2003 reunion tour, Bachman and Cummings have toured together multiple times, most recently last year.

Meanwhile, as a Rolling Stone article about the lawsuit explains, Kale secured the trademark to the band’s name at a time when the original group had broken up and Cummings and Bachman were focused on other musical projects. Kale and Petersen now share the rights to the name. In recent years, the current incarnation has released a couple of new studio albums—The Future IS What It Used to Be in 2018 and Plein D’Amour this year.

That being said, Cummings and Bachman told Rolling Stone that they’re still hoping they will eventually be able to tour and record under The Guess Who name again.

“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,” said Bachman.

Bachman and Cummings also both have successful solo careers, and Bachman recently relaunched his famous 1970s band, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, which has a bunch of upcoming North American tour dates.

(Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)

Leave a Reply

Suzy Bogguss

Listen: Suzy Bogguss and the McCrary Sisters Team Up for Powerful New Single “It All Falls Down to the River”

Listen: Bob Dylan Covers Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love” in Montreal