Born: 1947, Winnipeg
Solo Career Debut: 1976
- 3 major Juno Awards (Album of the Year in 1979 for Dream of a Child and Male Vocalist of the Year in 1977 and 1980)
- 4 songs in the Year-End Top 100 (CHUM FM)
- 6 Platinum albums, including 4 multi-Platinum
- Star on the Walk of Fame (2011)
- Inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (2005)
“Stand Tall” (1976/7)
- 24th biggest song of 1977 in Canada; Top 10 hit in the U.S.
Some Other Hits:
- “I’m Scared” (1977)
- “My Own Way to Rock” (1977)
- “Break it to Them Gently” (1978)
- “I Will Play a Rhapsody” (1979)
- “Fine State of Affairs” (1980)
- “One and Only” (1980)
- “Heavenly Blue” (1981)
- “You Saved My Soul” (1981)
- “Take One Away” (1990)
Cummings learned the piano as a boy and sang in Gilbert and Sullivan productions at high school. He played in a local band called the Deverons for three years (sax and keys), and then was invited to join what would become, in the views of many, the greatest Canadian rock band of all-time. Burton Cummings was the most important member of The Guess Who: their lead singer, keyboardist, and primary composer. Randy Bachman who co-wrote many songs with Cummings left the band to form Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and The Guess Who continued on but saw a steady decline in popularity through the 70s. In 1976, Cummings decided to leave the band, and he embarked on a very successful solo career.
Just prior to going solo, Cummings provided backing vocals for Eric Carmen’s second album, Boats Against the Current.
His first single, showcasing his well-known rich, sculpted rock voice, was his crowning achievement: “Stand Tall” a million-seller that became the biggest Canadian song of the year in 1977. This song, along with “I’m Scared”, have been played more than a million times each on radio making them two of the most air-played songs in history. He toured the U.S., opening for such acts as Seals & Crofts, America, and Alice Cooper.
A slew of hits followed, including “Break it to Them Gently” and the gorgeous “I Will Play a Rhapsody”, both featured in the 1978 album Dream of a Child that went 3x Platinum in Canada, the biggest-selling of all-time up to that point.
In the 90s, Cummings was pianist for Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band, touring Europe. In 2005 he was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame and in 2009 was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.