The Guess Who — American Woman

American Woman is undoubtedly the biggest phenomenon in the history of Canadian rock that put Canada on the world map of music. It was «American Woman» in March of 1970 that became #1 hit single not just in Canada but also in the U.S.A. Popularity of the song was so immense that it dethroned The Beatles to reach the #1 spot and ruled the charts for three consecutive weeks. American Woman guitar lead coupled with powerful vocals, were the salient features of the hit. The album entitled «American Woman» with other melodious songs like «No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature», also achieved the Top 10 status shortly thereafter. This was an amazing feat accomplished by the Canadian rock group, The Guess Who, which had to struggle very hard initially just to make it to the American radio stations. The widespread popularity of the band all over the world made them Canada’s first international rock music superstars. An invitation to perform at the White House before Prince Charles and the President Nixon earned them another feather in their cap.

Ironically, The Guess Who, the group behind «American Woman», started off in 1962 in Winnipeg as Chad Allen & the Reflections without Burton Cummings; who became the backbone of the group eventually. Initially, the band consisted of Randy Bachman (guitar), Jim Kale (bass) and Garry Peterson (drums) and Chad Allen (keyboard and vocals). The band signed with Quality Records in 1965, and had first hit with «Shakin’ All Over», which reached #1 in Canada and #22 in the U.S. Strangely the name The Guess Who came on the album «Shakin’ All Over», when radio stations refused to play their music because they were Canadian. The record company came up with an amazing idea, putting a plain white cover with a question «Guess Who?» on the album cover, hoping to capitalize on curiosity. The plot was successful and the album sold over 2 million copies, and after that the group got its name, The Guess Who. Burton Cummings joined the group that same year, replacing the keyboard player Chad Allen and sharing lead vocals.


Burton Cummings became the new bandleader as well as the driving force of the group. The next milestone for The Guess Who was the release of album Wheatfield Soul, in 1968. The single, «These Eyes», reached #1 in Canada and #3 in America in 1969 and the band landed a U.S. contract with RCA Records. This was hailed as the beginning of the Canadian Invasion with «These Eyes» selling more than one million copies. Their second album under RCA, «Canned Wheat Packed» contained the Top 10 hits «Laughing» and «No Time» as well as Top 40 hit «Undun.» And then came the big bang with the release of «American Woman» in 1970. The title song «American Woman» still remains their signature tune today and is the popular choice of all classic-rock radio stations in North America.

To order the American Woman guitar lesson or to see what other The Guess Who songs are available, please check the Song Library page on our website.

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