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Burton Cummings, Randy Bachman sue former Guess Who bandmates over use of name


Two of Canada’s most famous musicians have filed a lawsuit against their former bandmates, alleging they are misleading the public who are coming to see them perform.

Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman have filed a lawsuit for more than $20 million against former Guess Who bandmates Jim Kale and Garry Peterson, along with the current band members, over their use of the Guess Who name. The suit was filed on Oct. 30 in California.

Cummings and Bachman are alleging the defendants have assembled a band of hired musicians they call a “cover band” to perform, record albums and advertise performances using The Guess Who band name and trademark, and are “falsely misleading” the general public by giving the impression Cummings and Bachman are performing with the group.

“Defendants’ devious design to mislead the public is pervasive and widespread, including giving statements in interviews creating the false impression that the Cover Band is affiliated with or includes Plaintiffs,” the lawsuit reads.

None of the claims in the lawsuit have been proven in court. No statements of defence have been filed.

Bachman, Cummings, Kale and Peterson performed in the Guess Who during the 1960s and 1970s. Bachman left the group in 1970, while Cummings left in 1975, with the group disbanding not long after. The foursome reunited for several performances over the years.

Kale registered a trademark for The Guess Who name in 1986, and created a partnership with Peterson over the name in 2005. The lawsuit alleges Kale and Peterson formed a “Cover band” to perform as the Guess Who and record and release albums. The new band is made up of Peterson, Derek Sharp, Leonard Shaw, Michael Devin and Michael Staertow.

Bachman and Cummings allege this has harmed their reputation, limiting their ability to perform in the United States, “since venues believe that the Cover Band meets the demand of consumers to hear The Guess Who when it most certainly does not,” the lawsuit reads.

The lawsuit also says Kale doesn’t play with The Guess Who anymore and claims Peterson plays with the band “infrequently.”

“Despite often performing with none of the original members of the Original TGW (The Guess Who), the Cover Band invariably performs the hit songs originally released by the Original TGW and written or co-written by Plaintiffs,” the lawsuit reads.

Peterson and Kale are also accused of using Guess Who songs written by Cummings and Bachman without proper licensing to advertise concerts and removing their images from streaming sites, replacing it with photos of the current lineup.

The suit says Cummings sent cease-and-desist letters to The Guess Who earlier this year.

CTV News Winnipeg has reached out to Entertainment Services International, the group who manages the current iteration of the Guess Who, but has not yet received a response.

As of Thursday, no statement of defence has been filed. Top Stories

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