Have You Heard? – (57) “American Woman” by The Guess Who

Now my answer to this question would have been NO until this week, when I heard the song on Marc Riley’s BBC 6 Music show. Marc has a show Monday to Thursday from 7-9pm, which is absolutely excellent. I often listen to it for a bit when I get home from work, and just slump on the bed for a while to get some energy back. And then I often carry on listening while I start writing my book, until I feel the need to listen to the artist I’m writing about.

Like 6 Music in general, Marc plays contemporary music, some great sessions from new artists, some old sessions from the BBC archives and a few old indie favourites. And just occasionally a bit of seventies ROCK. So I was lying on the bed when this song came on. A great blues rock rhythm, verging on reggae, with a singer who sounded like Robert Plant, Ian Gillan and Paul Rodgers, but obviously wasn’t any of the three. I thought, this is a great song, it sounds like I should know it, but I don’t. Is it Paul Rodgers? No. Plant? No. Gillan? No. Is it it some other geezer who sang with Purple or Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow? Probably not. Anyway, after another rocking tune, Marc Riley said it was “American Woman” by The Guess Who. I thought, aah, I think I know them, but I can’t remember why…

So it was a Google and a Wikipedia and all was revealed. The Guess Who were a Canadian band who made their name in the sixties and in 1970 made the “American Woman” album. The single was a number one in the US. The singer was Chad Allan and one of the band members was… Randy Bachman. He of Bachman Turner Overdrive fame. A band equally reviled and revered these days. But no-one can deny that “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” is a classic seventies rock anthem.

And that’s where my vague memory of The Guess Who must have come from. From the BTO and reading about their origins.

Anyway, you can hear the full, five minute version of the song on Spotify, with a little blues intro, but here’s the band playing the meat of the song in, I assume, 1970. It’s kind of amusing, but also brilliant and the guitar just glides. Unfortunately, the video is so badly shot that you can’t actually see the lead guitarist most of the time.

Can’t believe I’ve only just heard it for the first time, but I love it!

About John S

I'm blogging about the things I love: music, sport, culture, London, with some photos to illustrate aspects of our wonderful city. I’ve written a novel called “The Decision”, a futuristic political thriller, and first of a trilogy. I’m also the author of a book on music since the 1970s called “ I Was There - A Musical Journey” and a volume of poetry about youth, “Growin’ Up - Snapshots/ Fragments”. All available on Amazon and Kindle.
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6 Responses to Have You Heard? – (57) “American Woman” by The Guess Who

  1. Sherrie says:

    The Guess Who are icons here in Canada. Burton Cummings is from the same city I live in (Winnipeg, Manitoba). He lived across the street from my parents. They have a slue of amazing songs but I would have to recommend “These Eyes” if you’re in the mood for a little more 🙂

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Resa says:

    Yes, I know the song very, very well. I know every word, every chord and love it better than the Lenny Kravitz cover version from the early 2000’s.
    “The Guess Who” have 3 murals dedicated to them in Winnipeg, and are adored to this day. I was born and raised in Winnipeg, I knew Burton,.. and a lot more, if you ever need to know.
    As I know how you value music history fact, I need to correct some of your info.

    1. BURTON CUMMINGS is the singer of “American Woman”. (He is the guy singing in the video you show) There was a band called “Chad Allen and the Expressions”. They had a big hit in Canada & the USA. (You will love it!)

    Then Chad Allen got nodes on his vocal chords, and had an operation.

    2. Burton (also played keyboards which was hot at the time) was hired to replace Chad temporarily, but Chad never regained his voice. During that time the band was referred to as “The Expressions and Guess Who” (Guess Who being Burton.)

    3. The band renamed themselves “The Guess Who” & Burton Cummings along with Randy Bachman became an awesome song writing duo who produced many hits, including their biggie “American Woman”

    4. When the “Guess Who” broke up in the 70’s, Randy went on, forming his own band “Bachman Turner Overdrive” aka “BTO”. They had 2 major hits with “Taking Care Of Business” and “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”. Randy sang lead vocals.

    I’m a prairie girl feeling passion right now, John, and I want the facts known.
    My fave song of “The Guess Who” is “These Eyes” which Sherrie has noted. Burton and Randy wrote it, and Burton sings it. It’s a killer!
    I could suggest other tunes.
    I dated (sort of) Tim Bachman, Randy’s kid brother, a couple of times. We weren’t even teens. He ended up playing drums in BTO.
    Sigh! Thanks, John!

    • John S says:

      Wow! Such a great response Resa. Llttle did I know when I posted this blog that it would provoke such passion. So Wikipedia was my information source, but I didn’t try too hard to establish the facts. Rather importantly, I now know the singer was someone else! Brilliant that they came from your city and you have personal connections, as did Sherrie.

      I WILL listen to “These Eyes” !

      So good what music reveals….

  3. DyingNote says:

    I have heard a few versions of this song but that original is something else. Nice – brings back memories 🙂

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