The Guess Who – These Eyes (1969)

Randy Bachman started writing this song when he was waiting in the living room at the house of his date, Lorayne Stevenson. She was taking a long time getting ready so Bachman sat at the piano and wrote the beginning of this song. Lorayne – the girl he was waiting for – he later married (they were married for about 10 years and had six children together).

Bachman claims the song took him just 15 minutes to write once he sat down with his bandmate Burton Cummings to put it together. Cummings, a trained Royal Conservatory Of Music pianist, later complimented Randy for devising riffs that were technically wrong but sonically right for the emerging song. With an original title of “These Arms”, Burton Cummings changed the title to “These Eyes” and added the middle eight.

When they weren’t touring, Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings would meet for songwriting sessions on Saturday mornings, and it was at one of these sessions that they completed the song. The band was still struggling at the time, and Cummings was still living with his mother, where these songwriting sessions took place. It turned out to be an enlivening songwriting environment, as the pair composed many of their early songs at Cummings’ mother’s piano.

The Guess Who is one of several bands that had members come and go over the years. The band using that name has had multiple artists, but most notably Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman (who went on to form Bachman–Turner Overdrive).

The Guess Who formed in Winnipeg in 1965. Initially gaining recognition in Canada, the group found international success from the late 1960s through the mid-1970s with many hit singles, including “No Time”, “American Woman”, “Laughing”, “These Eyes”, “Undun” and “Share the Land”. A band using the name has continued to perform and record to the present day.

They started out as a local Winnipeg band formed by singer/guitarist Chad Allan (real name: Allan Kowbel) in 1958 and initially called Allan and the Silvertones. This was changed to Chad Allan and the Reflections in 1962, by which point the band consisted of five Winnipeg-born musicians: Chad Allan (lead vocals/guitar), Bob Ashley (keyboards), Randy Bachman (guitars, backing vocals), Jim Kale (bass, backing vocals), and Garry Peterson (drums, backing vocals). In 1965, the group changed their name to Chad Allan & the Expressions, and later changed to Guess Who? in an attempt to build a mystique. After Quality Records revealed the band to be Chad Allan & The Expressions, disc jockeys continued to announce the group as Guess Who?, effectively forcing the band to accept the new name. The question mark would finally be dropped in 1968.

Burton Cummings (from the Winnipeg group The Deverons) joined the band as keyboardist in early January 1966 and shared lead vocal work with Chad Allan. Chad Allan left in May 1966 to enroll in college, leaving Burton Cummings the full-time lead singer.

Differences between Bachman and Cummings (mainly due to Bachman’s conversion to Mormonism) led Bachman to leave the group after playing a final show at the Fillmore East in New York City on May 16, 1970. Recent studio recordings (eventually released in 1976 as The Way They Were) were sidelined. Bachman returned to Winnipeg and in 1971 formed Brave Belt which evolved into Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

Burton Cummings performing a live version:

These Eyes - The Guess Who

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