With Burton as frontman, the Guess Who became the first Canadian group to reach number one on Billboard charts, holding the spot for three weeks, and the first to earn a U. S. platinum album for sales in excess of one million copies. Rolling Stone magazine hailed the Guess Who as “…one of rock’s most consistently fascinating maverick bands, with a succession of meritorious songs that has few equals among contemporary North American groups.” Dick Clark described the group as rock innovators and ambassadors of Canadian music. Guess Who songs appear in feature films including American Beauty, Almost Famous, Cable Guy, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, and Jackie Brown.
“When I think back on having five million-selling records in the Top 10, one after the other, I can hardly believe it,” says Burton. “I was just twenty years old and every time I turned around, I was getting a gold record. The scope and magnitude of our success escaped all of us. It really didn’t sink in until years later.”
Beginning his solo career in 1976, Burton continued his success with a gold record for his debut solo single, Stand Tall, produced by legendary hit-maker Richard Perry who listed among his clients Barbra Streisand, Carly Simon and Ringo Starr. Having recruited Perry as producer stands as evidence of Burton’s star power in the music industry. Subsequent hits include I’m Scared, My Own Way To Rock, I Will Play a Rhapsody, Timeless Love, Break It To Them Gently, Dream Of A Child, Fine State of Affairs, Love Dreams and You Saved My Soul.
Sold out tours across Canada and the United States solidify Burton’s stature as a top performer. He starred in several top-rated television specials and, from 1977-1980, earned five Juno Awards for Best Male Vocalist and Best Album, serving as host of the annual Juno gala a record four times. His 1978 album Dream Of A Child became the first quadruple-platinum-selling album by a Canadian artist.
Through the ‘80s and ‘90s, Burton continued touring and joined Beatles drummer Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band. In 1980, a starring role in the feature film Melanie, with Miami Vice star Don Johnson, earned Burton a Genie Award for Best Original Song as well as praise for his acting skills. He launched his acclaimed Up Close and Alone solo concert series, with Burton alone onstage performing and recounting stories behind his best-known songs and personal moments from his career. A live album of the same name followed.
As a singer, songwriter, and recording artist, Burton Cummings transcends time, genres, and generations with an extensive catalogue of songs that resonate with fans old and new. His voice continues to be rated among the finest in rock music.
As the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame points out, “The praise doesn’t come any loftier than when none other than John Lennon says you are his favorite singer, and Led Zeppelin icon Robert Plant says you are one of rock’s best voices.”
As lead singer, songwriter, and keyboardist with Canada’s original rock ‘n’ roll super-group, the Guess Who, Burton scored an unprecedented string of international hit singles and albums including These Eyes, Laughing, No Time, American Woman, Share The Land, Hang On To Your Life, Albert Flasher, Sour Suite, Orly, Glamour Boy, Star Baby, Clap For The Wolfman, and more, written or co-written by Burton. By 1970, the Guess Who had sold more records than the remainder of the Canadian music industry combined. Even today, their achievements remain unequaled.
The success of Lenny Kravitz’ American Woman cover from the hit feature film Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me brought renewed attention to the original Guess Who. The group reunited in 1999 for the closing ceremonies of the Pan-American Games with a television audience numbering in the tens of millions and completed several high-profile North American tours. Burton later teamed with Guess Who alumnus Randy Bachman for Bachman-Cummings touring and recording success. The Bachman Cummings Songbook, released in 2006, became another platinum seller, followed the next year by Jukebox.
Burton’s 2008 album, the critically-acclaimed Above The Ground, is the first composed entirely of previously unreleased songs, all written by Burton. Fans and critics consider the album as among the best of his works. Burton continues to be inspired by the muse and to possess an uncanny ability to craft recording-studio magic.
In 2012, Burton released his first live, post-Guess Who album, Massey Hall, recorded at the famed venue in Toronto, Canada. The album features hits from both his Guess Who and solo careers, spanning five decades to include These Eyes, American Woman, No Sugar Tonight, Undun, Timeless Love, Stand Tall and title song, Above The Ground.
As one of Canada’s most celebrated rock artists, Burton is a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, Canadian Walk of Fame, Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame, and Prairie Music Hall of Fame. He is a multiple Juno Award winner as well as recipient of the Order of Canada, the Order of Manitoba, the Governor-General’s Performance Arts Award, and several BMI (Broadcast Music Industry) awards representing more than one million airplays.
Undoubtedly Canada’s most beloved rock ‘n’ roll son, Burton is honored to have both a community centre and performing arts theatre bear his name. He enjoys world-wide stature shared by only a handful of Canadian artists.
Today, Burton continues to write, record and perform, delighting audiences of all ages across the United States and Canada. Described as Canadian rock ‘n’ roll royalty, a national treasure, and a living legend, Burton Cummings remains true to himself and his “own way to rock.”