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Randy Bachman Given Governor General's Award

For most artists, a Governor General's Award would be the pinnacle of a career. For Randy Bachman, it's just another item to check off his want list.

"An Order of Canada would be nice, a tax-free status would be nice and a diplomatic passport would be nice to be able to get through the airport easier because we are, in fact, diplomats of Canada," Bachman says over the phone from his Vancouver home.

Of course, the Guess Who guitarist is joking. He says he and his bandmates are thrilled to be among this year's recipients of the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards, which will be presented in Ottawa Nov. 1.

"It was a surprise and honour to hear that we were receiving the award," Bachman says.

The other recipients, announced yesterday, are:

* Prima ballerina Karen Kain

* Television and film director Andre Brassard

* Actor, director, playwright and teacher Joy Coghill

* Jazz musician Phil Nimmons

* Choreographer and artist Jean-Pierre Perreault

"Each of this year's recipients of the Governor General's Performing Arts Award has contributed their lifelong creative efforts to enriching us and I look forward to honouring them on behalf of all Canadians," said Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson.

For Bachman, it will be a return trip. He first attended the ceremonies in 1994 to deliver a speech about Neil Young, a recipient that year.

"I thought if Neil Young could get one, we could get one because he had left the country, and we still live here," he says.

It's not like he and his bandmates have gone empty-handed. The Guess Who have received countless awards and honours since forming in Winnipeg in the 1960s. They won Junos when they were still known as RPM awards and were named to the Juno Awards Hall of Fame in 1987.

Since reforming in 1999 to play at the Pan Am Games, the band has received Honourary Doctorates of Music from Brandon University, accepted a star on the Walk of Fame in Toronto and been the first band inducted into the Prairie Music Hall of Fame.

Bachman said he can't compare the importance of awards but knows the Governor General's Award is a big deal.

"It's the height of royalty, in a way, for Canada. It's very parliamentary and very formal. It's like getting the Order of Canada or a knighthood," he says.

The only award besides the Order of Canada to still elude the band is an inclusion into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

Fans have been petitioning the hall for years but so far haven't had any success convincing board members of the Guess Who's merit.

Bachman isn't surprised. Getting into the hall is political and not always based on talent, he says.

"They have never acknowledged a Canadian rock 'n' roll band and they have some really obscure bands in there," he says.

Bachman has gone unrewarded on the local level as well. Unlike singer Burton Cummings, who has a community club and theatre named for him, nothing in the city is named for Bachman, who co-wrote the band's biggest hits.

"If somebody chose to that would be nice, but it won't make or break me," he says.

What Bachman would like is the chance for the Guess Who to play the first show at the forthcoming True North Centre.

"It should be us and Neil Young playing," he says. "It should be the blasting Winnipeg rock concert of all time. It should be the Crash Test Dummies, Loreena McKennitt, The Watchmen, Tom Cochrane, Chantal Kreviazuk and Remy Shand, all of us Winnipeggers. It could go from three to midnight," he says."It would be the greatest Christening of the place.

Which gives him another idea.

"Maybe they could call it the Guess Who Arena."

-- With files from CP (jam!showbiz)
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