Joining a band called Allan and The Silvertones in 1962, Garry Peterson had no idea what was ahead.
“We were young men. We were teenagers. I don’t think you think about the future. You just hope to end up on “American Bandstand” or be on with Ed Sullivan, have gold records and records on the charts. You don’t really look down the road,” said Mr. Peterson, drummer and founding member of the band that eventually became The Guess Who.
The Canadian rock group found international fame from the late 1960s through the mid-1970s with hit singles including “No Time,” “American Woman,” “Laughing,” “These Eyes,” “Undun” and “Share the Land”.
In his 55th year with the group that changed to its current name in 1965, Mr. Peterson will bring The Guess Who to Dover Downs’ Rollins Center for a sold-out show March 11 at 8 p.m.
“It’s kind of nice to be in the position we are in now. But then I think ‘Where did all the time go?’” said the affable 71-year-old Winnipeg native last week in a phone interview from his home in Greensboro, North Carolina.
He started drumming when he was just 2 years old, played his first professional gig at 4 and played with music legend Peggy Lee when he was 6.
“My dad was a drummer and started teaching me before I even had memory. Most people don’t remember when they started walking. They just always remember walking. It’s sort of like that for me with drumming,” he said.
But as he got older, Mr. Peterson was steered away from drumming by his parents and led toward a university to study dentistry.
“As with most parents who lived through the Depression, they wanted a better life for their kids than they had. My dad was a machinist at Air Canada,” Mr. Peterson recalled.
“They wanted a good education for me and for me to become a professional person and have a good job and a great life. He didn’t realize that he had been teaching me to be a drummer since I was 2 years old and I wasn’t just going to turn that off at 18 years old to become a dentist. It just doesn’t work that way.
“I went to college but then at the same time we had our first hit (“Shakin’ All Over”). He wasn’t quite happy with the choice but college went by the wayside.”
Mr. Peterson said his father soon came around.
“Once we had success, he couldn’t have been prouder. He lived a bit vicariously through my success,” he said.
It was during those late teen years when Mr. Peterson met Randy Bachman, the lead guitarist and another founding member of The Guess Who.
“Randy and I played Little League baseball together and he was starting a rock band. My background was big band and he became an instrumental part of me playing contemporary music with people more my age,” he said.
“I also later played a season with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra so I enjoy all kinds of music.”
These days, there is one other founding member touring with The Guess Who. Bass guitarist Jim Kale has been in the band since 1958 when they were simply known as The Silvertones.
Mr. Bachman and lead singer Burton Cummings left The Guess Who in 2004.
Although the band has broken up and reunited throughout the years, Mr. Peterson doesn’t foresee another reformation with the musicians who recorded the group’s best-known hits.
“Ego and greed are the reasons,” he said.
“It’s a sad thing. The Rolling Stones understand that it takes everyone to be successful — right down to the lowly drummer. They’ve been together it seems like 100 years. But when one guy starts thinking he is better than the rest, that’s where things fall apart.”
The Guess Who was inducted into The Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1987 and in 2002, they received the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement for their contribution to popular music in Canada.
But induction into the U.S. Rock and Hall of Fame has eluded the group. Mr. Peterson said he doesn’t think the group will ever get in, calling that “a huge travesty.”
“For a band to still be playing 55 years later with the number of hits that we’ve had … Three Dog Night is in the same boat,” he said.
“They tend to put the more shocking acts in. If we get in, we’d be quite honored. But if not, what can you do? You can’t induct yourself.”
If that were to ever happen, Mr. Peterson said he doesn’t know if the prodigal band members would attend the ceremony.
“I think with all of the acrimony that exists, we’d have to wait and see what happens. You can always postulate. You can’t ever get away from your past history. For me, I would do everything I could to be a part of it,” said Mr. Peterson, who also spent time with the band Bachman Turner Overdrive.
As far as what the band can control, a new record is on the horizon.
“We’ll have a new 10-cut CD to play for the people by the summer. We’re kind of champing at the bit to play it live now but we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves,” he said, adding that the group has been known to play a couple of tracks at their shows.
“It’s all based on how we’re feeling. If it seems like a great crowd, we might stick one or two in there.”
Mr. Peterson is thankful that the crowds have kept coming all these years and he thinks he knows why.
“I believe it’s the music we’ve created. Our catalogue was so diverse. You’ve got a ballad like ‘These Eyes.’ And then there’s ‘Undun,’ which is an out and out jazz tune and than a hard thing like ‘American Woman,’” he said.
“There are three wildly different styles of music that can appeal to just about everyone. We recorded 13 albums for RCA, which is approaching how many The Beatles had, and the diversity is evident.
“I still listen to stuff all the time and think ‘Did we really try do that?’ We were influenced by all styles of music and borrowed from so many genres and incorporated them in our original music. We lived in an era of recording where that kind of experimentation was encouraged.”
And playing that music, he says, never gets old.
“There are times when you think ‘Oh God. I have to play “These Eyes” again tonight.’ But then you play the song one night and you think ‘Wow, that was great.’ It goes in cycles. You never try to play by rote. I play a game with myself to try to play better than I did the time before.’
The Dover show will be the first concert of 2017 for The Guess Who and thus begins another year of rocking for Mr. Peterson.
“I think when you’re an entertainer, it’s kind of like a drug. You get to evoke different feelings in people due to the music you’ve created. They are mostly good emotions but sometimes bad,” he said.
“Music is so associated with different times in people’s lives whether it’s a first love or a second marriage. We mark time with music just as we do with movies. It’s a real honor and pleasure to make people feel good when they come to one of our concerts.”
All that jazz
It’s a big weekend for jazz locally.
The Philadelphia-based jazz duo Pieces of a Dream will perform at the Schwartz Center for the Arts Saturday at 7
Founding members James Lloyd (keyboards) and Curtis Harmon (drums) have been performing for 40 years and recorded 21 albums.
Tickets are $35-$30 and can be purchased at schwartzcenter.com, calling 678-5152 or at the box office at 226 S. State St., Dover.
In Smyrna, Blue Earl Brewing Company’s Open Blues Jam every third Sunday of the month has been so successful that the brewpub has created The Jazz Jam.
It is hosted by Q & Co., consisting of Rob Swanson on bass, Anthony Santiago on drums and E. Shawn Qaissaunee on guitar.
Like the Blues Jam, the Jazz Jam will begin with a short set by Q & Co and then it will be opened to players and/or singers who wish to participate.
Kurbside Cuisine will have its food truck to sell items.
Blue Earl is at 210 Artisan Drive.
New in theaters this weekend is the Wolverine film “Logan”; the teen drama “Before I Fall”; and the faith-based film “The Shack.”
On DVD and download starting Tuesday is the animated film “Moana”; the biopic “Jackie”; and the horror movie “Incarnate”.
Reach features editor Craig Horleman at firstname.lastname@example.org