The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Chad Allan & the Expressions

Posted on | February 2, 2019 | Comments Off on Chad Allan & the Expressions

Chad Allan and his groovy band, circa 1964.

My mind works in mysterious ways and I’ve forgotten why I started the research that led me down a rabbit hole into an obscure tale from Canadian musical history. In 1958, a singer named Allan Kowbel formed a band in Winnipeg originally called Allan and the Silvertones. By 1962, Kowbel had adopted the stage name “Chad Allan” and his band was called the Reflections. They recorded a few records, but with little commercial success. Then in 1965 a U.S. group called the Reflections had a hit, which caused the band from Winnipeg to change its name to Chad Allan and the Expressions. It was under this name that they recorded what was to be their only hit, a cover of a 1960 record by British rocker Johnny Kidd, “Shakin’ All Over.” But the reason you’ve never heard of Chad Allan and the Expressions is because their record company got an idea for a publicity stunt to promote the single. They sent out promotional copies labeled only “Guess Who?” a trick that caused some DJs to think this was actually the band’s name. And after some confusion, Chad Allan’s group officially adopted The Guess Who as their name.

A 1965 ad promoting “Shakin’ All Over” by “Guess Who?”

Unfortunately for Chad Allan and his newly renamed band, rock music was now progressing rapidly. By 1965, the Beatles were producing far more sophisticated music — “Help!” and “Day Tripper” and “Yesterday” — and while Allan’s sound might have been quite popular a year earlier, it was now becoming passé. Although “Shakin’ All Over” made it to No. 1 on the Canadian charts, it peaked at No. 22 in the U.S.


In 1966, Burton Cummings replaced Chad Allan as the lead singer for The Guess Who, who got a gig as house band on a weekly Canadian TV teen-music show, Let’s Go, that lasted two seasons. In 1969, the group had three Top Ten hits with “These Eyes,” “Laughing” and “No Time,” which was followed in 1970 by their all-time biggest hit, “American Woman,” which made it all the way to No. 1. This success was short-lived, however. Guitarist Randy Bachman developed health problems and Cummings developed an ego problem, and The Guess Who never recovered.

After he left the band, Bachman would later recall, he was labelled “a lunatic and a loser” and “nobody wanted to work with me,” except his old buddy Chad Allan, with whom he created a new group, Brave Belt, that recorded a couple of albums. Bachman recruited bassist/singer Fred Turner to join and, by the time their third album was released, Chad Allan was gone, and the band was now called Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Perhaps you’ve heard of them.

By 1974, Bachman-Turner Overdrive was No. 1 on the charts with “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet,” and also the Top 10 “Takin’ Care of Business.”



So, while you’ve probably never heard of Chad Allan, he somehow managed to be present at the creation of two groups — The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive — that each later made it to No. 1 without him. Amazing the things you can learn on the Internet . . .



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