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AVON PARK, Fla. – March 8, 2023 – Canada’s first rock superstars, The Guess Who, bring their national tour to the Alan Jay Wildstein Center for the Performing Arts at South Florida State College (SFSC) in Avon Park on Friday, March 24 for one performance at 7 p.m.
The Guess Who is best known internationally for its 1970 album, “American Woman,” which hit No. 1 in Canada and No. 9 in the United States, with five other albums also hitting the top ten in Canada.
Dr. Gayle Obermayr, Heartland Endodontics, is sponsoring the performance.
Garry Peterson is a founding member and co-owner of the legendary rock band. As a child prodigy, Peterson performed at age 6 with singer Peggy Lee at the Chicago Theater in Chicago, Ill. Similar gigs followed with the likes of Lionel Hampton, The Four Lands, and The Andrew Sisters, to name a few. By age 16, Peterson had joined the Winnipeg band, Al & The Silvertones, which over the next couple of years would transform itself into The Guess Who.
As a member of The Guess Who, Peterson has to his credit 15 albums that charted on the Billboard 200; 14 singles charted on the Billboard Top 40, including two No. 1s; and three gold singles and three gold albums as certified by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Peterson is also the only current or former member of The Guess Who that has performed on every album and participated in every tour over the course of the band’s history.
Since 2008, Petersen is joined onstage by lead singer Derek Sharp who hails from Ontario. On keyboards and saxophone is Leonard Shaw, on guitars and vocals is Michael Staertow, and on bass and vocals is Michael Devin.
Originally known as Chad Allen & the Expressions, The Guess Who had a number of small regional hits until their then label, Quality Records, released a cover of British artist Johnny Kidd’s “Shakin’ All Over” in 1965 under the moniker “Guess Who?” as a marketing ploy to get the band played on Canadian radio. At that time, Canadian DJs ignored Canadian bands. The name stuck and The Expressions changed their name to The Guess Who? Soon after, the question mark was dropped.
A stint performing music on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation TV show “Where It’s At” in 1968 led the band to meet producer Jack Richardson who mortgaged his home to finance the recording of “Wheatfield Soul” in 1969. That album contained “These Eyes,” which would go on to top the Canadian singles chart and reach No. 6 in the United States. It would also become the band’s first million-seller. In 1970, “American Woman” was a smash success, with the title track topping the American singles chart for three weeks and becoming the band’s biggest career hit.
“The Guess Who had 19 hits on Billboard’s Hot 100 list,” said Cindy Garren, director of Cultural Programs. “The Doors had three, Deep Purple had two, and Led Zeppelin only had one. Anyone who lived in the 1970s can sing any one of their hits like “These Eyes” or “No Sugar Tonight.” And I’m sure that Garry will tell some interesting stories.”
Tickets for the live concert start at $38. The Alan Jay Wildstein Center for the Performing Arts is located on the SFSC Highlands Campus at 600 West College Drive in Avon Park. Tickets are available online at sfscarts.org or by phone at 863-784-7177. Ample free parking is available.