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The Guess Who is coming to Penn's Peak

Published October 05. 2009 02:55PM

Lead vocalist Burton Cummings picked the worst time to leave the band The Guess Who in 1975, and you can tell in his voice that fellow member Garry Peterson hasn't been very forgiving.

Peterson said of Cummings, "I was so disappointed that after all the years, all the hard work we have it thrown away for no good reason. It was such a disappointment for me that I walked away."

Fortunately, Peterson returned and the Guess Who regrouped without Cummings.

An original band member, Peterson said, "I would have to say this is the best Guess Who band that's ever been with homage to all the people who have been in the band in the 46 year history."

Tomorrow night, The Guess Who, who have brought us such hits as "American Woman," "Laughing," and "These Eyes," will be performing at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe beginning at 8 p.m.

Opening for The Guess Who will be Mikey Jr.

Peterson is on drums and vocals. Another original still with the band is Jim Kale (bass and vocals). The other members are Derek Sharp (vocals and guitars ), Leonard Shaw (keyboards, flute, sax and vocals)and Laurie MacKenzie (guitars and vocals).

The Guess Who became Canada's first international rock music superstars.

Peterson, in a phone interview, was asked to differentiate between rock and pop. He responded that had I listened to the band's CDs, I would agree The Guess Who is a rock band.

He also said that simply, when AM was the popular radio choice and FM was just coming onto the scene, you were considered pop if played on AM and rock if the FM stations aired your music.

Peterson started playing drums in 1947 and began his professional career two years later. The band started as Chad Allen & The Reflections. In 1965, after Cumming joined, Quality Records released the group's first single and album, "Shakin' All Over," in a plain white record jacket with only the question "Guess Who?" written on it. The marketing ploy paid off and the band became known as The Guess Who.

Peterson recalled that the band was in the peak of its success when Cummings left. He said of Cummings, "What he did after leaving The Guess Who was nothing. There was no good reason for breaking up that band other than selfish reasons. I just think he threw away a legacy that could have gone for 47 years."

"I have to tell Mr. Cummings that the music that the band created - and not what he created - is what people come to see," Peterson concluded.

When Peterson rejoined The Guess Who, "we paid our dues all over again." He added, "Now we've quite a ways back. Last week we did some recording in Santa Monica."

Presently Peterson is living in Greensboro, N.C. He became an American citizen, stating, "Now I am a citizen of the two greatest countries in the world - Canada and the United States."

The easy-going Peterson has played a lot more than pop or rock.

He recalled that when he was just 11 years old, he played for country great Ferlin Husky in Winnepeg, Canada. Husky, best known for the song "Wings of a Dove," appeared in Winnepeg and needed a drummer. Peterson filled the bill.

He also played for the Andrews Sisters and the great band leader and trumpet virtuoso Harry James.

Recalling his teen years, Peterson said he was already a well-known percussionist as well as a baseball player. He played baseball on a team called the Tigers while a player on a team called the Red Sox had quite a guitarist. It was Randy Bachman. Peterson was only 13 at the time, but the two agreed to start a rock band. "That was kind of a cool thing in grade 7," he remembers.

Their rival band was Al & the Silvertones. Bachman eventually joined Al & the Silvertones, said he didn't feel the drummer was very good, and convinced them to hire Peterson.

Peterson said he's thrilled to be returning to Penn's Peak. He remembers the venue, especially the sight from the balcony. Of Penn's Peak, he said, "The crowd and the people there are fantastic."

"Penn's Peak was built with the artist in mind," he added. "My memory of that place is it is a great venue."

Peterson said that at the end of every concert, he and band members stick around to sign autographs.

He assured that The Guess Who will be performing such hits as "Laughing" and "American Woman." He said they just re-recorded "Lucille," by Little Richard, which will also be on the song list.

Asked in general what people can expect of The Guess Who, he joked: "Polkas."

He then stated, "The people will see a much better band with a few surprises."

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