Guess Who May Affect Lenny Kravitz's New Tour

The Guess Who are fighting and because of it, Lenny Kravitz's forthcoming tour might lose a crowd pleasing rocker.

The classic rock group, The Guess Who, the first Canadian band to have a #1 single in the U.S., have gone through a lot of personnel changes since its inception in 1965. The most difficult being when the group's best and earliest songwriters, Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings, left at separate points in the 1970s.

At some point its original bassist, Jim Kale, discovered the name of the band had never been trademarked so in 1986 he did the paperwork and owned the name. He and the original drummer Garry Peterson went on the road as The Guess Who after hiring other musicians to sing and play alongside them.

Over time Bachman and Cummings became furious with the idea that what was basically a cover band (especially after Kale retired in 2016) was damaging the band's brand. They tried all sorts of legal avenues but nothing worked.

Now the songwriters have realized they have one weapon remaining, but its a double-edge sword in that it will hurt both the so-called Cover Band and Bachman and Cummings. But it will also hurt Lenny Kravitz as well as Widespread Panic.

The band with the original drummer of the Guess Who and the rights to the name performing in October of 2023.

Cummings, unlike most songwriters, still own the rights to the songs he wrote and co-wrote, and even odder, he also own the publishing. One of the most powerful things you can do with the publishing rights is disallow music venues from having performers play your songs.

Cummings is threatening to do just that: terminated the performance agreement which would remove venues’ permission to perform any of the songs he had a hand in.

The double edge sword, cuts both ways, alas. By pulling a performance agreement, you are also stopping those songs from appearing on TV and radio - and with it those delicious royalties.

No sugar tonight, indeed.

“I’m willing to do anything to stop the fake band; they’re taking [Bachman and my] life story and pretending it’s theirs,” Cummings explained to Rolling Stone. “They’re not the people who made these records, and they shouldn’t act like they did. This doesn’t stop this cover band from playing their shows, it just stops them from playing the songs I wrote.

But it also stops Widespread Panic from covering "No Sugar Tonight" and harsher still, it stops Lenny from playing the song he's played more than The Guess Who have, "American Woman."

Lenny plays "American Woman" a ton.

He plays it so much, he's played it twice with Prince.

He only played two real gigs last year as he was writing his forthcoming album, Blue Electric Light, and both times he played "American Woman."

In 2000, in Canada at the Much Music Awards, The Guess Who was being honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Lenny and his band played the song with the original Guess Who, including the songwriters.

If Cummings goes for what Rolling Stone calls "the nuclear option" and pulls the rights, Lenny's going to need another rocker in his sets, both large and small.

As will Widespread Panic, who performed "No Sugar Tonight just two days ago to close out their set in Mexico.

“How much is my life’s work worth? You can’t put it in dollars and cents,” Cummings told the magazine. “It’s wrong what they’ve done and for years, nobody did anything about it. But we’re doing something now, and this may set some precedents because there are other acts out there that aren’t real either."

The band with the rights to the name The Guess Who are scheduled to play Friday, April 19 at the Villages in Florida. Tickets are available on their website even though several shows this month have been canceled due to the legal battles.

Lenny Kravitz's European Tour starts in June. Tickets can be garnered through his website.

Widespread Panic have one more show in Mexico tonight before coming back to the States to continue to jam at festivals and amphitheaters. Get your tickets on their site.

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Last updated: 24 May 2024, 09:57 Etc/UTC