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Guess Who still rocking 50 years later

Garry Peterson, drummer for the The Guess Who, had a memorable stay in Warren.

He doesn’t remember the name of the motel, but he remembers what happened there.

“We were playing there one time in 1991 or somewhere outside of there,” he said. “My girlfriend at the time drove up from North Carolina, got lost and missed the gig. That night I proposed to her.”

He mentioned the city (actually Warren township) also is home to one of his favorite musicians — dobro player Jerry Douglas.

“My ultimate goal is to have him play on one of our records,” Peterson said. “The (Alison Krauss +) Union Station ‘Live’ is one of my favorite albums. He’s just the best.”

Peterson also is pretty fond of the musicians he’s working with now. He is the only member of The Guess Who to appear on every one of the band’s hit singles from 1965 to 1975 (Burton Cummings wasn’t on the first single, “Shakin’ All Over”; Randy Bachman left and formed Bachman-Turner Overdrive after “American Woman”), and the only current member who was a part of hits like “Undun,” “Share the Land,” “No Time,” “No Sugar Tonight” and “Clap for the Wolfman.”

The current lineup — Dee Sharp, lead vocals; Will Evankovich, guitar; Rudy Sarzo, bass; Leonard Shaw, keyboard; and Peterson — released “The Future IS What It Used to Be” last year, the first Guess Who studio album in more than 20 years.

“This is the first time I felt we had the combination of band members and talent that could stand up to what that band from 1965 to ’75 had created,” Peterson said. “When I listened to the material that was being written with this band in mind, it got me very excited to put together a package reminiscent of what I call that golden era of rock and pop music.”

The audience at Stambaugh Auditorium next week can expect to hear a few of the new songs, but the set will be dominated by songs from the Guess Who’s golden era.

“This band delivers every night because of the talent in the band,” he said. “Every guy not on the records in this band grew up being fans of The Guess Who and loving the band, and now here they are playing in the band, and they honor and cherish the music they’re playing and execute it perfectly.”

Peterson calls North Carolina home these days, but he and the other members of The Guess Who were born and raised in Canada, and the band continued to live in Canada even after its success spread into the United States.

“That might have been a mistake in some ways,” he said. “For a band with that many hit records, we were not as big as it should have been. Maybe that’s the reason we’re not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. People always ask why we’re not in, and I don’t have an answer to that. Maybe we’re not good enough, didn’t achieve enough. Not everyone can be there.

“To be in that club would be great, but it’s not necessary. We’re here 50 years later still playing for people. How many bands are still doing that?”