The Guess Who scored their only No.1 on the US Hot 100 with the controversial “American Woman”

The song was quickly associated as an attack on the U.S war politics back then, specially the Vietnam draft

The Guess Who scored their only No.1 on the US Hot 100 with the controversial “American Woman”

Despite enjoying a considerable amount of popularity during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, Canadian band Guess Who was only able to score a No.1 hit, but a hit that is now a classic rock staple, still being granted airplay often around the world. Written by the band, “American Woman” was first released on their album “American Woman” in January 1970, and later in March, released as a single backed with “No Sugar Tonight”. The song was an instant hit for the band who had been touring the U.S since the late 1960’s, having earned a cult following. But the lyrics to the song, were (as many songs back then) intended to have a double meaning. Quickly it was associated with the U.S Vietnam draft, and categorized as an “anti-war song”, interpreted as an attack on U.S. politics. Members of the band seem to have different views on this as for example Burton Cummings, lead singer and author of the lyrics stated in 2013 “What was on my mind was that girls in the States seemed to get older quicker than our girls and that made them, well, dangerous. When I said ‘American woman, stay away from me,’ I really meant ‘Canadian woman, I prefer you.’ It was all a happy accident” Lead guitarist Randy Bachman expressed a different view in 2014 by stating that it was “an anti-war protest song”, explaining that when they came up with it on stage, the band and the audience had a problem with the Vietnam War. We had been touring the States. This was the late ’60’s, one time at the US/Canada border in North Dakota they tried to draft us and send us to Vietnam. We were back in Canada, playing in the safety of Canada where the dance is full of draft dodgers who’ve all left the States”. The popularity of the song earned the band their only No.1 on the U.S Hot 100 on May 9, 1970 and Billboard magazine placed the single at number three on the Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1970 list. The climbing on the U.S music charts was one of the reasons why the band was invited by then president Richard Nixon to play at the White House on July 1970, however, because of its perceived anti-American lyrics, first lady Pat Nixon asked that they not play “American Woman”. And so it was. In 1999 Lenny Kravitz successfully covered the song for the movie “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me”

Look back at the Guess Who performing “American Woman” in 1970

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