The Guess Who to rock Elkins

Legendary band The Guess Who will bring their string of Top 10 hits to the Mountain State Forest Festival’s Classic Rock Show on 8 p.m. Saturday at Harper McNeely Auditorium on the Davis & Elkins College campus.

The Canadian rockers, whose most famous songs include “American Woman,” “These Eyes” and “No Sugar Tonight,” formed in 1962 and have been touring internationally for decades.

“When you’re talking about 50 years, you’d have to say that your fans have not only supported you but grown up with you,” drummer Garry Peterson, one of two original members still with the band, told The Inter-Mountain in a phone interview.

“Our generation took the baton from Elvis and Chuck Berry and Little Richard and Buddy Holly, and we just tried to carry it farther on down the road.”

Peterson said meeting fans face to face is one of the best parts of his job.

“When we sign autographs after the show, you realize that music is a timeline in people’s lives,” he said. “They remember a song that went along with an important time in their lives. It’s very personal.

“We seem to be making new fans now along with those that grew up with us, because all our stuff is available now for digital download,” Peterson said. “It’s great to connect to a whole new generation of people.”

During The Guess Who’s heyday in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the band shared the stage with many music legends, and still cross paths with classic rockers on the road.

“I’m just now looking at a poster from the Seattle Pop Festival in 1969, just before Woodstock,” Peterson said. “We played there with the Doors, Led Zeppelin, Ike and Tina Turner, Santana, the Byrds … and that was just three days, one festival!

“We just played another part of West Virginia recently with Three Dog Night,” he said. “We still run into a lot of great acts out on the road: Blood Sweat & Tears, Grand Funk Railroad and America. It’s like a fraternity when we run into those guys.”

Peterson noted that touring has changed in many ways over the past 50 years, but the band’s mission – to rock their fans – remains the same.

“Travel is different, how we stay in a town is different, but the people are the same,” he said. “Entertaining people is still the same, that’s still the thrill we get from this. Taking them away from their daily troubles, giving them some fun to recharge their batteries. It’s almost like being a bit of a doctor. It’s very special, an honor for us.”

Drumming in a rock band for 50 years has taken a toll physically, but Peterson said he’s lost none of the enthusiasm for the music he had as a teenager.

“I’ve been playing drums for 66 years, and professionally since 1949,” the 68-year-old said. “Drumming is very physical, and it’s beaten me up a bit: I’ve had two knee replacements, a hip replacement. I’ve had surgery on both thumbs and I’ve had carpal tunnel.

“There’s some pain involved now but I keep doing it because I love it. This isn’t really work for us. We call it play. We play a song, we don’t work a song,” he said with a laugh.

Although membership in the group has changed through the years, they have remained musically consistent behind the strengths of original members Peterson and Jim Kale (bass and vocals). Additionally, current members include Derek Sharp (vocals and guitars), Leonard Shaw (keyboards, flute, sax and vocals) and Laurie MacKenzie (guitars and vocals).

Tickets for the MSFF Classic Rock Show featuring The Guess Who are $25 for General Assigned Seating, and $45 for Premium Front Seating. The premium seat tickets are available only at the MSFF office. For more information, call the office at 304-636-1824 or go to