How The Guess Who Ended Up Playing For The White House In 1970
via What Happened to Them? / YouTube
While the Guess Who didn’t exactly flood the market with timeless masterpieces, the ones they did release helped define the sound of the Flower Power era in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Moreover, it seems strange that the Guess Who, who was hugely popular with the hippy age, was invited to perform at the White House, where Richard Nixon was still the president. In case you missed it, Nixon didn’t like hippies, who he often associated to be marijuana users.
Garry Peterson, the band’s drummer, said that they didn’t see any problems with playing for the president. As Peterson said to Recordnet, “He had some good foreign policy and, other than getting to play at the White House, we didn’t know where Nixon was going. We couldn’t foresee Watergate, being from Canada, being young and not that far into politics.”
Tricia Nixon, the president’s daughter, was a big fan of the group and had a major role in booking them for a White House performance in 1970. Everything about the party was rather low-key, considering that a conservative president had allowed a hippy rock band to perform at the White House and even the Guess Who kept their cool.
There is some disagreement as to whether or not the Guess Who was requested to remove “American Woman” from their set list before performing at the White House, despite the fact that their set was rather mild overall. “American Woman,” one of the band’s greatest hits, is an anti-war song. One rumor has it that the first lady had requested that the song not be played, so they complied. But Burton Cummings, the band’s singer, revealed that the band never had a request to play the song in the first place. This didn’t bode well for the group, who were met with negative comments for playing and sticking to a man like Nixon.