Cummings, who brought a rich, sculpted voice to a range of plaintive ballads (eg, "I'm Scared," "Break It to Them Gently") and vigorous rockers ("Your Back Yard," "My Own Way to Rock," etc), enjoyed his greatest popularity at the turn of the 1980s. He headlined concerts in Canadian stadiums and arenas (eg, annually 1978-81 at the CNE Stadium), and toured in the US opening for Seals & Crofts, America, Alice Cooper, etc. He continued through the 1980s to appear in Canada in nightclubs, in smaller concert halls, and at charity events. His repertoire included Guess Who material and his own hits. Cummings participated in a reunion of the Guess Who in 1983 and toured with Randy Bachman in 1987. He was seen on his own CBC and PBS TV specials, was host or co-host for the televised Juno Awards ceremonies in 1979, 1980, 1982, and 1983, and starred in the Canadian feature film Melanie, released in 1982.
In the following decades, he pursued his solo career, playing concerts and recording the 1996 album Up Close and Alone, which featured Cummings alone on piano. Briefly, he was pianist for Ringo Starr's All-Starr Band, touring Europe. Cummings again appeared with the re-formed Guess Who in 1999 for the Winnipeg Pan Am Games, and for reunion tours of Canada and the US in 2000 and 2001. Cummings and Bachman also performed as a duo, releasing the albums Bachman Cummings Songbook (2006, Sony BMG 82876 81247 2) and Jukebox (2007, Sony BMG 88697112982). The 2008 album Above the Ground was Cummings' first solo recording of new material since 1990.
Cummings himself received Junos as most promising male singer (1977) and best male singer (1977, 1980), and for best-selling album (Dream of a Child, 1980). Canadian sales of his first four LPs exceeded 200,000 each. In recognition of his work with the Guess Who and under his own name, Cummings was the recipient in 1989 of PRO Canada's William Harold Moon Award for international achievement. In 2001 Cummings accepted SOCAN Classic awards (representing over 100,000 airplays) for "Follow Your Daughter Home," "My Own Way to Rock," and "You Saved My Soul," as well as citations of achievement, jointly with Bachman, for "These Eyes" and "No Time" (three million and two million broadcast performances, respectively).
Cummings retained ties in Winnipeg, appearing at functions such as a 1997 flood relief concert; a theatre (which houses the Prairie Music Hall of Fame) and a community centre there are named for him. He was featured on CBC TV's Life and Times series in 1997, and was invested in the Order of Manitoba in 2001. In 2005 he was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame and in 2009 was named an Officer of the Order of Canada. Cummings received numerous additional honours as a member of the Guess Who; together they are credited with laying the foundation for Canadian successes in the music industry.
The Burton Cummings Collection. 1994. Rhino R2 71717
Burton Cummings: Up Close and Alone. 1996. MCASD81010
My Own Way to Rock. 1999 (1977). Epic EK 80351
Dream of a Child. 1999 (1979). Epic EK 80352
Woman Love. 1999 (1980). Epic EK 80353
Burton Cummings. 2000 (1976). Epic/Legacy EK 65972
Above the Ground. 2008. Sony BMG Music 88697396452
Author Betty Nygaard King
McRae, Earl. "Burton's back," The Canadian, 25 Jun 1977
Sharp, Keith. "Burton's own way to rock," Music Express, Sep 1977
"Beginnings: Burton Cummings," Today, 4 Apr 1981
MacInnis, Craig. "A second Cummings for Burton," Toronto Star, 3 Mar 1990
Einarson, John. American Woman: The Story of the Guess Who (Kingston, Ont 1995)
Dafoe, Chris. "Guess Who: One more time for homegrown hit machine," Globe and Mail, 3 Aug 1999
Kendle, John. "The rocker theatre," "Cummings cleans up his act after throat scare," Winnipeg Sun, 10 Aug 2002
Dymond, Greig. "A fine state of affairs: Burton Cummings talks about his first solo disc in 20 years," CBC News, 17 Nov 2008
Links to Other Sites
Governor General's appointments to the Order of Canada
Scroll down the page and click on the links to brief biographical notes of recent appointees to the Order of Canada. Click on "Find a Recipient" on the left side of the page to find previous recipients. From the website for the Governor General of Canada.
Burton Cummings Theatre for the Performing Arts
The website for the historic Burton Cummings Theatre for the Performing Arts, which was known previously as the Walker Theatre and the Odeon Cinema. Click on the links on the left to see a history of this landmark Winnipeg venue, and a photo archive including images of the impressive theatre interior.
The Guess Who perform their hit song “American Woman” on The Midnight Special TV show. From YouTube.
Shawnadithit grew anxious waiting for her uncle, Longnon, to return to camp at the junction of Badger Brook and the Exploits River, deep in the wilds of Newfoundland...