Creedence Clearwater Revival
John Fogerty – circa 1970
“Saw the people standin’ / A thousand years in chains / Somebody said it’s different now / But, look, it’s just the same” – ‘Wrote A Song For Everyone’ (John Fogerty)
They are tired of being oppressed. A group, by definition, is a collective of people serving the interests of all its constituent members. Yet, in this case, one man alone is dominant. They lost one of their four members because he couldn’t stomach the situation any longer. And that lost party was no less than the elder brother of the very same person who is claiming so much control. It has to stop. The man in charge is faced with imminent mutiny and so surrenders to democratic rule. And it proves a disaster. The group is mortally injured and dissolves. Theoretically, we like to believe that an equal division of power is just. In reality, that is not always true. This is the story of Creedence Clearwater Revival.
John Cameron Fogerty is born on 28 May 1945 in Berkeley, California, U.S.A. He is the son of Galen Robert Fogerty and Lucile Fogerty (nee Lytle). (Note: The names of John’s parents vary a bit from source to source. His father is said to be named Gaylord or Gayland but, most commonly, is named as Galen. It seems likely that he was born as either Gaylord or Gayland and later adopted the less exotic name of Galen. The full name of John’s mother is Edith Lucile Fogerty, but she appears to be known by her middle name – with a single ‘l’ rather than a double ‘l’ before the final letter of ‘e’.) John Fogerty comes from a mix of English and Irish ancestry. More recently, Galen Fogerty came from South Dakota while Lucile came from Great Falls, Montana. “They drove to California in the late 1930s,” John explains. Galen Fogerty works in the print shop of ‘The Berkeley Gazette’ newspaper. Lucile Fogerty is a teacher who, later in life, specialises in working with handicapped children.
John Fogerty is the middle child of the five brothers born to Galen and Lucile Fogerty over sixteen years. The five boys are: Jim (born in 1938), Tom (9 November 1941-6 September 1990), John (born on 28 May 1945), Danny (born in 1949) and Bob (born in 1953). Thomas Richard Fogerty, born in Berkeley, California, U.S.A., will join his younger brother John Fogerty in Creedence Clearwater Revival. (For the record, as adults Jim Fogerty becomes an accountant, Danny Fogerty manages a chain of pizza stores and Bob Fogerty becomes a photographer – and John Fogerty’s personal manager.)
The Fogerty family converts to Catholicism when John Fogerty is 2 years old. John remembers his mother introducing him as a 3 year old to the historical country songs of Stephen Foster (e.g. ‘Oh Susanna’, ‘Camptown Races’). John Fogerty attends the School of the Madeleine, a Catholic school in Berkeley, for one year, but he finds it a very negative experience. John transfers to a more secular educational facility, Harding Grammar School. John Fogerty’s father, Galen Fogerty, has problems with alcohol and leaves the family in 1953, shortly after the birth of his youngest son, Bob. After his parents’ divorce, John and his brothers are primarily raised by their mother who manages the household alone on her teacher’s salary. “I didn’t starve or anything,” says John Fogerty, “but I felt ashamed of my place. I didn’t want people to see my house.”
Perhaps not coincidentally, John Fogerty’s interest in music intensifies around the same time that his parents split up. John starts out playing the family piano. His mother takes all her boys with her to folk music festivals. John’s brother, Tom, is proficient on both violin and accordion. John says, “I remember as early as 1953 [the same year his father left], when I was about 8 years old, that I was going to name my group Johnny Corvette And The Corvettes…I envisioned being exactly where I am now [in 1968] since I was 8.” By the time John Fogerty moves on to St Mary’s High School and then Portola High School in El Cerrito [the Fogerty family now lives in El Cerrito, ‘an East Bay suburb’], rock ‘n’ roll has come into flower. “My parents were pretty eclectic in what [music] they liked; I think it was because they both came from rural America,” observes John. However, he also notes, “Rock ‘n’ roll was sort of tolerated by my mom,” rather than being wholeheartedly embraced. John Fogerty picks up on early rockers like Little Richard and Bo Diddley. “I bought the first Elvis Presley album when it came out in 1956,” says Fogerty, expressing his admiration for the 1950s King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Fogerty also acknowledges that, “James Burton was a huge influence on me going back to when I was a child.” Burton plays guitar on Dale Hawkins’ 1957 song ‘Suzie Q’ and, in later years, also works with Elvis Presley. John Fogerty gets his first guitar when he is 12 years old. Due to the family’s tight financial circumstances, he and elder brother Tom club together to rent this guitar for five dollars per month. John takes guitar lessons from Barry Olivier, the creator/producer of the Berkeley Folk Festival.
At high school, both Tom Fogerty and John Fogerty start their own bands.
Tom Fogerty, John’s elder brother, is perhaps a little less interested in music. Tom is more athletic and plays halfback on the school football team. When he is 16, Tom’s high school sweetheart is Gail Skinner. A leg injury puts an end to Tom’s football ambitions. While laid up, Tom gets more serious about the guitar and begins playing blues songs. He starts singing rock ‘n’ roll with a high school band called Spider Webb And The Insects. They sign a recording contract with Del-Fi Records and record a song called ‘Lyda Jane’, but the band breaks up in 1959 without releasing any material.
Tom Fogerty graduates from high school and, in 1960 when he is 18, marries his high school sweetheart Gail Skinner. By 1960, Tom is working for Pacific Gas and Electric, the local power company, while Gail is working for a telephone company. Tom and Gail go on to have four children: Scott, Jeff (born in 1965), Kristine and Jill.
John Fogerty forms his group, The Blue Velvets, in 1959 when he is 14 years old. The first person John invites to join the group is a fellow student at Portola High School in El Cerrito, Doug Clifford.
Douglas Ray Clifford is born on 24 April 1945 in Palo Alto, California, U.S.A. Doug’s father is a machinist; Doug’s mother is a cosmetics clerk. However, Doug also points out that, “My mom was a singer on the radio back in the 1930s and 1940s.” Doug Clifford has a brother who is three years older than him. Doug Clifford earns the nickname ‘Cosmo’ ‘due to his keen interest in nature and all things cosmic.’ Doug attends schools in Livermore, Manhattan Beach and Palo Alto before winding up at Portola High School in El Cerrito. It is at Portola High School that Doug ‘Cosmo’ Clifford meets John Fogerty. John is interested in forming a band and Doug is a drummer. “I had a snare drum and a bass drum, let’s put it that way,” Clifford says modestly. Among his influences, Clifford lists jazz drummer Gene Krupa. The other drummers he admires – such as session musician Hal Blaine and Al Jackson of soul act Booker T. And The MG’s – are closer to being contemporaries. As John Fogerty and Doug Clifford discuss their prospective new band, Doug suggests a third member, Stu Cook.
Stuart Alden Cook is born on 25 April 1945 in Oakland, California, U.S.A. Stu is born only hours after Doug Clifford (who is born on the previous day, 24 April 1945). Stu’s father, Herman Cook, is a lawyer. Stu’s brother, Gordon, goes on to serve as a high-ranking officer for the Australian Department of Corrections. “My parents were both musicians,” says Stu Cook. Although he is primarily a lawyer, “My father played trumpet and my mother [played] the piano and organ…I studied trumpet in grammar school and switched to piano in junior high school…They bought me an acoustic guitar when I was 12.” Because their names are so close alphabetically, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford are put in the same classes at school. Stu recalls, “I met Doug in homeroom in 1958 and we became friends. He was talking with John [Fogerty] about forming a band and I think I was asked to join because my parents’ house had a big family room and a piano.” Doug Clifford confirms this, acknowledging that he said to Fogerty, “I know a guy whose father is a successful lawyer and he has a big rumpus room with a piano in it.”
The Blue Velvets is formed in 1959. At first, they are a purely instrumental trio consisting of: John Fogerty (guitar), Stu Cook (piano) and Doug ‘Cosmo’ Clifford (drums). All three members are 14 year old boys attending Portola Junior High School in El Cerrito. “We all had similar tastes. We all bought the same records. We listened to the same radio stations,” says Doug Clifford.
In 1960, John Fogerty’s elder brother, Tom Fogerty, joins The Blue Velvets. “Tom was the one that brought us along,” claims drummer Doug ‘Cosmo’ Clifford. “We were terrible…He [Tom] was 18 and very patient with us and he stuck with us. We were an instrumental trio before he joined the band…Nobody was singing. Tom said, ‘Doesn’t anybody sing?’ John said, ‘I can try.’”
John Fogerty’s ‘high school steady’ is Martha Piaz.
Adopting the modified name of Tommy Fogerty & The Blue Velvets, the group records three singles for Orchestra Records, a label based in Oakland, California. These singles are: ‘Come On Baby’ backed with ‘Oh My Love’ (October 1961); ‘Have You Been Lonely’ b/w ‘Bonita’ (early 1962); and ‘Yes You Did’ b/w ‘Now You’re Mine’ (June 1962). Tom Fogerty is the lead vocalist on all these songs – which is consistent with him receiving top billing. Tom also writes both sides of their first single. ‘Have You Been Lonely’ is written by John Fogerty. John and Tom co-write ‘Bonita’. ‘Yes You Did’ is written by Tom Fogerty. ‘Now You’re Mine’ is written by John Fogerty. These three singles achieve only ‘minimal sales.’
Tommy Fogerty & The Blue Velvets take time to re-evaluate their approach. Tom Fogerty begins playing rhythm guitar as well as singing. Stu Cook switches from playing piano to playing bass. “John [Fogerty] suggested I give the bass a try,” recalls Cook. When listing his influences as a bass player, everyone Stu Cook nominates is more like a contemporary – or even later. Stu’s favourite bassists are: Paul McCartney (The Beatles), Bill Wyman (The Rolling Stones), James Jamerson (Motown Records), Duck Dunn (Booker T. And The MG’s), Jack Bruce (Cream), Jack Casady (Jefferson Airplane) and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin).
By 1963 all four members of Tommy Fogerty & The Blue Velvets have graduated from high school. “Two of us worked in a gas station,” says guitarist John Fogerty. “[Drummer] Doug [Clifford] was a janitor and we’ve also driven trucks…When I worked in a gas station, I really took it seriously. I wanted to do well and please everyone.” Tom Fogerty continues to work for Pacific Gas and Electric. Bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford go on to San Jose State College. Doug works part-time as a janitor while in college.
In mid-1964 Tommy Fogerty & The Blue Velvets sign a new recording contract with Fantasy Records, a San Francisco based label. Max Weiss, one of Fantasy’s owners, changes the group’s name to The Visions. However, when their first single for Fantasy is issued, the group finds they have been credited as The Golliwogs. This new name is ‘an apparent reference to a once-popular minstrel doll called a Golliwogg.’ The Golliwogs ‘wear matching paisley shirts and vests, with fuzzy white wigs.’ Musically, The Golliwogs’ sound is ‘extremely derivative of the British invasion.’ [i.e. U.K. bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Animals who began to have hit singles in the U.S.A. in the mid-1960s.]
The Golliwogs release seven singles on Fantasy Records. These singles are: ‘Don’t Tell Me No Lies’ b/w ‘Little Girl (Does Your Momma Know)’ (November 1964); ‘Where You Been’ b/w ‘You Came Walking’ (April 1965); ‘You Got Nothin’ On Me’ (July 1965); ‘Brown-Eyed Girl’ b/w ‘You Better Be Careful’ (November 1965); ‘Fight Fire’ b/w ‘Fragile Child’ (March 1966); ‘Walking On The Water’ b/w ‘You Better Get It Before It Gets You’ (September 1966); and ‘Porterville’ b/w ‘Call It Pretending’ (November 1967). The first six singles are all co-written by John Fogerty and Tom Fogerty – under the pseudonym of Rann Wild and Toby Green. The final single is written by John Fogerty alone – under the pseudonym of T. Spicebush Swallowtail. Three of the songs feature shared lead vocals by John Fogerty and Tom Fogerty (‘Don’t Tell Me No Lies’, ‘You Got Nothin’ On Me’ and ‘You Better Be Careful’); three of the songs have Tom Fogerty on lead vocals (‘Little Girl (Does Your Momma Know)’, ‘Where You Been’ and ‘You Came Walking’); and the rest of these songs – the majority – are sung by John Fogerty. This represents an important shift in the band’s power structure. John Fogerty finds he has to ‘scream the vocals to compensate for the poor P.A. [public address] systems [at gigs] and [so] develops the raspy, blues dripping holler that will be his trademark.’ By contrast, ‘as a singer, Tom didn’t sound much like his brother…he didn’t sound much like anyone in particular.’ Even Tom admits, “I could sing, but John had a sound!” The Golliwogs’ output amounts to ‘a whole string of flop singles.’ The ‘moderately successful’ ‘Brown-Eyed Girl’ does well in Miami, Florida, but none of the singles are national hits. (Note: Van Morrison’s 1967 hit ‘Brown-Eyed Girl’ is a completely different song to The Golliwogs’ ‘Brown-Eyed Girl’.)
“I got married at 20,” says vocalist and guitarist John Fogerty. On 4 September 1965 John Fogerty marries his high school steady, Martha Piaz. She is pregnant at the time. John and Martha have three children together: two sons, Josh (born in 1966) and Sean, and a daughter, Laurie.
Following his marriage, John Fogerty gets a job as a shipping clerk in the warehouse of Fantasy Records. This is the same label for which The Golliwogs are recording. Also in 1965, John Fogerty enrols at Merritt College, a community college in Oakland, California. This is the beginning of what Fogerty describes as his “rather unsuccessful year of college.” There are also statements that Fogerty attends Contra Costa College, but the timing of this is not clear. Perhaps it follows his ‘unsuccessful’ stint at Merritt College?
After ‘Brown-Eyed Girl’ (November 1965), drummer Doug Clifford quits school. In December 1966 both Doug Clifford and guitarist John Fogerty receive draft notices. Doug Clifford joins the United States Coast Guard Reserve. John Fogerty joins the Army Reserve. He spends six months on active duty. Fogerty is stationed at Fort Lee, Fort Knox and Fort Bragg. He starts composing songs in his head to pass the time while he is marching in hot weather. John Fogerty is given a military discharge in July 1967. Doug Clifford finishes his period with the Coast Guard at the same time. Bassist Stu Cook had remained in college, but he graduates at the same time as John and Doug finish their military service. Herman Cook had a law school picked out for his son but Stu majored in business instead. “I have a degree in business management,” Stu Cook acknowledges.
In 1967 Saul Zaentz buys Fantasy Records. Zaentz had previously worked in sales for Fantasy. The Golliwogs have not been particularly successful, but Zaentz offers them a new recording contract on condition that the group changes its name. Since the band had never really liked The Golliwogs sobriquet ‘in part because of the racial charge of the name,’ they agree. Names that are tossed around – but ultimately rejected – include Muddy Rabbit; Gossamer Wump; and Creedence Newball And The Ruby. The last idea borrows the name of Tom Fogerty’s friend Credence Newball. Finally, in December 1967, The Golliwogs become Creedence Clearwater Revival. The band explain their new designation in this manner: “Creedence – Creed is a set of beliefs and creedence means belief in. Creedence is our world and it means both. It’s a friend’s name too. [i.e. Tom Fogerty’s pal, Credence Newball]. Clearwater – deep, true, pure – but the light always shines through. Revival – a renewal of – a reunion with tradition.” In later years, the three sources for the component parts of the name Creedence Clearwater Revival are said to be: (1) Tom’s friend Credence Newball; (2) a television commercial for Olympia beer (clear water); and (3) the quartet’s renewed commitment (revival). Bassist Stu Cook says, “Finally, [guitarist] John [Fogerty] put together the three names and we surrendered to the inevitable.”
The biggest change though is not the band’s new name, but the dominance of John Fogerty in Creedence Clearwater Revival. Arguably, this had been building for some time, but John Fogerty is now the group’s lead guitarist, lead vocalist, songwriter, producer [from their second album] and manager. And he does an excellent job. John Fogerty is a sharp and inventive guitarist; he possesses ‘a gritty, rockabilly vocal style’; he is hailed as a ‘songwriting genius’; and, ‘as producer, he makes it all sound so gritty and easy, too – like CCR had cut it all in a toolshed.’ Or, as John Fogerty himself puts it, “All this overproduction is funny to me. It doesn’t make it sound mo’ betta when you add more junk.”
Since it will become important later, it may be worth pausing here to consider the arrangement between Creedence Clearwater Revival and Fantasy Records. Bassist Stu Cook points out that, “[John] Fogerty, [Stu] Cook, [Doug] Clifford and [Tom] Fogerty signed a publishing agreement with one of Fantasy’s companies that gave up rights to copyright ownership…When you’re on the bottom, you make the best deal you can.” John Fogerty says, “What I clearly had an aptitude for was the music. I knew exactly what to do, but the business part and the relationship part were not there at all…I mean woeful.”
By December 1967 Creedence Clearwater Revival consists of: John Fogerty (lead vocals, lead guitar), Tom Fogerty (rhythm guitar), Stu Cook (bass) and Doug ‘Cosmo’ Clifford (drums). All four have quit their jobs and finished school and are ready to release their first recording under the name of Creedence Clearwater Revival.
The distinctive sound of Creedence Clearwater Revival is apparently simple, a blend of rock and pop. Yet, curiously, their music is also described by the following bewildering array of designations: psychedelic rock, roots music, swamp rock, Southern rock, rock ‘n’ roll, country rock and blues rock. Perhaps the most common of these tags applied to the band is swamp rock. ‘Although the group comes from [suburban] California, [their music] suggests some idyllic Mark Twain-like Southern backwater.’ This is ‘a tribute to [the] imagination’ of John Fogerty. To anyone unfamiliar with the true origins of Creedence Clearwater Revival, it would be easy to believe they grew up in some hillbilly marshland. This is just one of a surprising number of inherent contradictions within Creedence’s sound. John Fogerty is capable of unleashing squalls of distorted hard rock guitar, yet the group seems equally comfortable with basic down-home country music. Coming up through hippie California, Creedence Clearwater Revival knock out extended work-outs that bear all the hallmarks of free-form jam sessions, yet it is equally true that the group’s forte is short and tight hit singles. Some of their lyrics nod toward the social injustice issues espoused by the late 1960s counter culture firebrands, but they also stand up for history, tradition and a humble kind of conservative attitude. Creedence is electric and modern while maintaining a steady stream of ‘revivals’ of older songs. It is futile to argue that the band is on one side or the other of any of these apparently clashing musical styles. John Fogerty’s remarkable musical vision brings all of these pieces together in a seamless, cohesive whole.
The bulk of the catalogue of Creedence Clearwater Revival is written by vocalist and lead guitarist John Fogerty. The group also records a number of cover versions of early rock ‘n’ roll songs and some folk, blues, soul and country tunes. These cover versions justify the ‘revival’ part of the group’s name, but also suggest a continuity in the essential values of the music.
The first single attributed to Creedence Clearwater Revival is the same song that was the last single by The Golliwogs (the band’s previous incarnation). ‘Porterville’ is released in November 1967 by The Golliwogs and is reissued in January 1968 by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Neither release makes a mark on the pop charts. The song’s writer, John Fogerty, says of ‘Porterville’, “It’s semi-autobiographical; I touch on my father, but it’s a flight of fantasy too.” The lyrics say, “They came and took my dad away to serve some time / But it was me that paid the debt he left behind.” ‘In the song, Fogerty’s dad gets hauled off to jail; in real life he left the family of his own accord when John was 9 years old.’
The debut album, ‘Creedence Clearwater Revival’ (1968) (US no. 52), is released on 5 July. Like all their albums, this disc is released by Fantasy Records. The production credit for ‘Creedence Clearwater Revival’ is assigned to Fantasy’s boss, Saul Zaentz. ‘Porterville’, the band’s first single, is included on this album. Also present is another reheated song from their days as The Golliwogs. The September 1966 Golliwogs single ‘Walking On The Water’ is reincarnated here as ‘Walk On The Water’. In either case, the song is co-written by Creedence’s leader John Fogerty and his brother, rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty. However, the biggest commercial successes from this debut album are both cover versions. ‘Suzie Q’ (US no. 11, AUS no. 88) is a cover version of a song recorded by Dale Hawkins in 1957. The epic (8:38) Creedence Clearwater Revival version is divided when released as a single. The A side of the single is ‘Part 1’ of the song, while the remaining ‘Part 2’ is consigned to the B side. Although Saul Zaentz is credited as producer, in John Fogerty’s memory ‘Suzie Q’ seems to be where he starts acting as the group’s record producer. The following anecdote from Fogerty also sheds light on how the band’s power was divided: “The problem was they [the rest of the band] were making all these comments like, ‘Well that won’t work, this won’t work.’ You know, they were having a great time laughing…and that was the last time I allowed them to be around when I mixed a record…I just couldn’t have them around while I was doing overdubs or when I was mixing because they weren’t very constructive.” ‘Suzie Q’ is the only Creedence Clearwater Revival top forty hit that is not written by John Fogerty. The other single from ‘Creedence Clearwater Revival’ is a scorching rendition of the 1956 Screamin’ Jay Hawkins [no relation to Dale Hawkins] song ‘I Put A Spell On You’ (US no. 58). The B side of this single is the previously discussed ‘Walk On The Water’.
In 1968 Creedence Clearwater Revival drummer Doug ‘Cosmo’ Clifford gets married. He and his wife, Laurie, go on to have a son named Brent.
The second album by Creedence Clearwater Revival, ‘Bayou Country’ (1969) (US no. 7, UK no. 62), is released on 5 January. From this album, the band’s leader John Fogerty officially takes the reins as producer as well. The first single from this album is ‘Proud Mary’ (US no. 2, UK no. 8, AUS no. 5). The song’s compulsively catchy riff makes it one of CCR’s most recognisable tunes. The lyrics paint a picture of “Rollin’ on the river” with the “riverboat queen” of the title with whom the narrator catches a ride. John Fogerty wrote ‘Proud Mary’ within two days after his discharge from military service. Fogerty describes ‘Proud Mary’ as “My first really good song.” It is said that Creedence Clearwater Revival ‘don’t really bloom until “Proud Mary”.’ Although Creedence Clearwater Revival never has a U.S. no. 1 single, ‘Proud Mary’ is the first of five U.S. no. 2 singles for the band. It becomes commonplace for both sides of Creedence’s singles to be noteworthy songs. In the case of ‘Proud Mary’, the flipside is ‘Born On The Bayou’. Author John Fogerty says, “The favourite song that we ever did for me, was ‘Born On The Bayou’…That song has so much soul in it…I put it in the swamp where, of course, I had never lived…I was getting some of that imagery from [blues musicians] Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters…I loved an old movie called ‘Swamp Fever’ [Note: No such film seems to exist. Perhaps Fogerty is thinking of ‘Swamp Water’ (1941) which seems to contain all the requisite elements]…Every other bit of Southern bayou information that had entered my imagination from the time I was born, it all sort of collided in that meditation about that song.” The lyrics to ‘Born On The Bayou’ refer to “Chasin’ down a hoodoo there.” Fogerty explains in an interview that a “Hoodoo is like a magical, mystical, spiritual, non-defined apparition.” ‘Born On The Bayou’ is marked by one of John Fogerty’s most fiery vocals: “Wish I was back on the bayou / Rollin’ with some Cajun queen / Wishin’ I was a fast freight train / Just a chooglin’ on down to New Orleans.” Speaking of ‘chooglin’’, the album actually offers a track called ‘Keep On Chooglin’’, but the action it describes seems less associated with railroad trains than young lovers. ‘Bootleg’ describes a rural industry that discovers that when you “Take you a glass of water / Make it against the law / See how good the water tastes / When you can’t have it at all.” Amongst all this faux Southernism, there is still time for a scalding run through of Little Richard’s 1958 barnstormer ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’, showcasing some highly impressive guitar work from John Fogerty.
A new Creedence Clearwater Revival single is released in April 1969: ‘Bad Moon Rising’ (US no. 2, UK no. 1, AUS no. 3) b/w ‘Lodi’ (US no. 52). Maintaining the aura of Southern superstitions, ‘Bad Moon Rising’ prophesies, “I see a bad moon rising / I see trouble on the way / I see earthquakes and lightning / I see bad times today / Don’t go round tonight / Well, it’s bound to take your life.” Yet all this dread is bolted to a compulsive electric guitar strum. John Fogerty, the composer of ‘Bad Moon Rising’, claims in an interview that the song is about “the apocalypse that was going to be visited upon us.” Perhaps his early experience with Catholicism also informs this view? Reportedly, John Fogerty wrote ‘Bad Moon Rising’ after watching ‘The Devil and Daniel Webster’ (1941) [a fantasy film based on the legend of Faust, about selling your soul to the devil]. It is supposedly inspired by a scene in the film involving a hurricane. Although Creedence Clearwater Revival never achieves a U.S. no. 1 single, ‘Bad Moon Rising’ tops the U.K. singles chart for three weeks, 20 September 1969 to 4 October 1969. The flipside, ‘Lodi’, bears the marks of hard times on the road, as an aspiring singer finds himself destitute and stuck in the small town of the title: “The man from the magazine / Said I was on my way / Somewhere I lost connections / I ran out of songs to play / I came into town a one-night stand / Looks like my plans fell through.” An almost country music feel frames the melancholy sentiment. Lodi (pronounced low-die) is a small agricultural city in California’s central valley about seventy miles from John Fogerty’s birthplace of Berkeley. He had never been to Lodi, but though it had ‘the coolest sounding name.’
The summer of 1969 sees Creedence Clearwater Revival appearing at a number of U.S. rock music festivals. They play the Newport Festival in California which runs from 20 June 1969 to 22 June 1969; the Atlanta Pop Festival which runs from 4 July 1969 to 5 July 1969; and the Atlantic City Pop Festival in New Jersey which runs from 1 August 1969 to 3 August 1969. However, the historically most important gathering is the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in Bethel, New York, running from 15 August 1969 to 17 August 1969. Creedence play at Woodstock too but this is almost forgotten since they do not appear in Michael Wadleigh’s documentary film ‘Woodstock’ (1970) or on its soundtrack. This is because band leader John Fogerty thought his group put in a substandard performance on the occasion – though bassist Stu Cook disagrees with this assessment. Fogerty partially attributes the problem to Creedence having to follow The Grateful Dead on the bill and, in his view, The Grateful Dead left the crowd too mellow (or stoned) to properly respond to Creedence.
The third Creedence Clearwater Revival album, ‘Green River’ (1969) (US no. 1, UK no. 20), is released on 3 August. This disc includes both songs from the April single ‘Bad Moon Rising’ b/w ‘Lodi’. The other single lifted from this album is ‘Green River’ (US no. 2, UK no. 19, AUS no. 6) b/w ‘Commotion’ (US no. 30). “’Green River’ is my favourite record and song from those times,” says Creedence’s leader John Fogerty. This statement conflicts with Fogerty citing ‘Born On The Bayou’ as his favourite on another occasion. In any case, ‘Green River’ is a spiritual companion to ‘Born On The Bayou’, its twanging riff ushering the listener in as Fogerty bawls, “Take me back down where cool water flows, y’all / Let me remember things I don’t know.” This line can be interpreted as an ironic commentary on the band’s lack of true Southern roots. While ‘Green River’ may be a product of John Fogerty’s imagination, it does have a basis in real life. As a child, he and his family spent their summer vacation at an idyllic spot. “It was actually called Putah Creek by Winters, California. It wasn’t called Green River, but in my mind I always sort of called it Green River,” Fogerty explains. On another occasion, he states that the title came “from a soda pop-syrup label…My flavour was called Green River.” ‘Commotion’, the flipside of the ‘Green River’ single (and also on this album), is a rant against the evils of big cities with a buzzing harmonica helping conjure up the sensory overload. The heavy-hearted ‘Wrote A Song For Everyone’ is still lovingly composed and played. Its gloomy tone can be understood when it is known that John Fogerty wrote it after a row with his wife, Martha Piaz. This disc’s blast from the past is a cover version of Nappy Brown’s 1957 song ‘The Night Time Is The Right Time’ – though that was based, in turn, on a twelve-bar blues from 1937 by pianist Roosevelt Sykes (a.k.a. The Honey Dripper) called ‘Night Time Is The Right Time’ (with no ‘The’ in front of the title). ‘Green River’ is described as Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘first classic LP, a tightly wrapped package of blistering guitar, road house-rhythm snap and John Fogerty’s backwoods howl.’
In an astonishing show of creativity, Creedence Clearwater Revival releases a third album in 1969 with no discernible drop in quality. ‘Willy And The Poor Boys’ (1969) (US no. 3, UK no. 10, AUS no. 2) is released on 2 November. The featured single from this album is ‘Down On The Corner’ (US no. 3, UK no. 31, AUS no. 2) b/w ‘Fortunate Son’. The album’s title is taken from ‘Down On The Corner’; Willy And The Poor Boys is the name of the mythical group busking to a crowd at the locale of the song’s title: “Willy And The Poor Boys are playing / Bring your nickels, tap your feet.” The cover photo by Basul Parik that adorns the album’s sleeve shows Creedence playing the parts of Willy And The Poor Boys at the Duck Kee Market owned by Ruby Lee and situated at the intersection of Peralta Street and Hollis Street in Oakland, California. When Creedence Clearwater Revival appears on television’s ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ in 1969 they also mimic this cover. The lyrics sketch out the scene this way: “Rooster hits the washboard and people just got to smile / Blinky thumps the gut bass and solos for a while / Poor Boy twangs the rhythm out on his Kalamazoo / Willy goes into a dance and doubles on kazoo.” Most of these instruments are more familiar from jug bands, rickety, home-made folk music aggregations. In the cover photo, Rooster (drummer Doug ‘Cosmo’ Clifford) scratches percussively at a washboard (a slatted rack used for washing clothes before mechanical washing machines were invented); Blinky (bassist Stu Cook) plucks at an upright ‘gut bass’ (a stick with a string attached); Poor Boy (rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty) strums a Kalamazoo guitar; and Willy (vocalist John Fogerty) toots on a kazoo, a toy-like wind instrument. ‘Down On The Corner’ is the best individual song by Creedence Clearwater Revival. The storytelling and characters are charming, but what really makes the song stand out is the descending riff. John Fogerty’s lead guitar is closely paced by Stu Cook’s bass while Tom Fogerty provides counterpoint with scratchy rhythm flourishes. To hear the song once is to be hooked. After all, “You don’t need a pin-head / Just to hang around / But if you’ve got a nickel / Won’t you lay your money down?” This jaunty view of being on a low budget differs wildly from the rage directed at the ‘Fortunate Son’ of the single’s other side (also included on this album). “Some folks inherit star-spangled eyes / Ooh, they’ll send you down to war,” may mirror John Fogerty’s own service with the armed forces, but he adds tartly, “And when you ask them how much should we give / Hoo – they only answer, ‘more, more, more’.” A kinetic, forceful, piece of hard rock, there is no mistaking its aggrieved stance. “I see things through lower class eyes,” John Fogerty says in an interview. ‘Fortunate Son’ was inspired by the wedding on 22 December 1968 of Julie Nixon (daughter of U.S. President Richard Nixon) and David Eisenhower (grandson of former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower). ‘The Midnight Special’ is a prison story, a traditional American folk song from 1905 given a modern arrangement by John Fogerty. ‘The Midnight Special’ was first recorded in 1926 by Dave ‘Pistol Pete’ Cutrell but the 1934 version by Huddie ‘Leadbelly’ Ledbetter is probably better known. Leadbelly’s 1940 song ‘Cotton Fields’ is also given a dusting off for this album. Original songs on ‘Willy And The Poor Boys’ include the loopy tale of flying saucers ‘It Came Out Of The Sky’, the more serious, shiver-inducing ‘Effigy’ and ‘Don’t Look Now (It Ain’t You Or Me)’, a semi-country fable warning against complacency. ‘Poorboy Shuffle’ and ‘Side O’ The Road’ are both instrumentals. As a whole, ‘Willy And The Poor Boys’ has ‘a durability few rock albums can match.’
John Fogerty, the leader of Creedence Clearwater Revival, separates from his wife, Martha Piaz, in 1970. The separation goes on for a year, but John goes back to her in 1971.
The single ‘Travelin’ Band’ (US no. 2, UK no. 8, AUS no. 2) b/w ‘Who’ll Stop The Rain’ is released by Creedence Clearwater Revival in January 1970. ‘Travelin’ Band’ is a tale of life on the road – albeit a more sprightly vision of such things than was painted in ‘Lodi’, an earlier song by Creedence. A saxophone lends the song some different instrumental colour. The opening line of ‘Travelin’ Band’ – “Seven thirty-seven coming out of the sky” – is a reference to the Boeing 737, a passenger jet, which is just coming into service at the time on short-to-medium range routes. “’Travelin’ Band’ is my tribute to Little Richard,” says the song’s writer, John Fogerty. Maybe that ‘tribute’ is a little too close. On 14 October 1971 a lawsuit is filed against Fogerty, claiming that ‘Travelin’ Band’ ‘contains substantial material copied from the music of the [Little Richard] song “Good Golly Miss Molly”’ (which Creedence covered on ‘Bayou Country’). The suit is eventually dropped. The flipside of the single, ‘Who’ll Stop The Rain’, is along the same lines as Creedence’s ‘Wrote A Song For Everyone’, a sad reflection on social injustice. Fogerty uses rain as a metaphor for bad times here. Some of the edge is taken off by a slick and glistening lead guitar slotting between the tales of misfortune. Fogerty claims that ‘Who’ll Stop The Rain’ is “part of the fabric of the times. From 1968 to 1974 [the war in] Vietnam was probably the most important thing on the minds of young people.” So the question ‘Who’ll stop the rain?’ could be rephrased as ‘Who’ll stop the war?’
In April 1970 Creedence Clearwater Revival undertake their first European tour. This includes a gig at the Royal Albert Hall in London, England.
April 1970 also brings the next single by Creedence Clearwater Revival, ‘Up Around The Bend’ (US no. 4, UK no. 3, AUS no. 1) b/w ‘Run Through The Jungle’. ‘Up Around The Bend’ welds an impressive guitar hook – that starts off with a rooster-like crow – to the theme of the benefits of country life. This theme was previously viewed from the other perspective in the earlier Creedence song ‘Commotion’. A sample of the lyrics from ‘Up Around The Bend’ runs, “There’s a place up ahead and I’m going / Just as fast as my feet can fly / Come away, come away if you’re goin’ / Leave the sinking ship behind.” ‘Run Through The Jungle’, the flipside, revisits the haunted swamps where “They told me don’t go walking slow / The Devil’s on the loose.” Author John Fogerty describes ‘Run Through The Jungle’ as “my all-time favourite Creedence tune”…but he said the same thing about ‘Born On The Bayou’ and ‘Green River’ as well. Regardless, Fogerty comments that ‘Run Through The Jungle’ is “like a little movie in itself with all the sound effects.” Bassist Stu Cook says the song has “lots of backward recorded guitar and piano.” Some have interpreted the lyrics of ‘Run Through The Jungle’ as commentary on U.S. servicemen fighting in Vietnam.
The album ‘Cosmo’s Factory’ (1970) (US no. 1, UK no. 1, AUS no. 1) is released on 25 July. The album’s title comes from a warehouse in Berkeley, California, where Creedence Clearwater Revival rehearsed early in their career. It was dubbed ‘the factory’ by drummer Doug ‘Cosmo’ Clifford because group leader John Fogerty made them practice there almost every day like a production line. Part of the group’s successful sound is that the band is recorded with a minimum of overdubs, relying instead on intense rehearsal to achieve their incredibly tight performances. Judging by the album’s cover photo, ‘Cosmo’s Factory’ is powered by the bicycle ridden by Doug ‘Cosmo’ Clifford while El Supremo, John Fogerty, occupies Clifford’s usual position at the drum-kit. ‘Cosmo’s Factory’ is the best album by Creedence Clearwater Revival. It includes the four songs released on the group’s two singles from earlier in the year (i.e. ‘Travelin’ Band’, ‘Who’ll Stop The Rain’, ‘Up Around The Bend’ and ‘Run Through The Jungle’). Also present are the songs on the new single released at the same time as the album, ‘Lookin’ Out My Back Door’ (US no. 2, AUS no. 1) b/w ‘Long As I Can See The Light’ (UK no. 20). ‘Lookin’ Out My Back Door’ is a porch set vision of “Tambourines and elephants all playin’ in the band / Won’t you take a ride on the flying spoon / Doo-doo-doo / A wondrous apparition / Provided by magician.” Some interpret ‘Lookin’ Out My Back Door’ as ‘a silly-serious celebration of tripping,’ but the song’s composer, John Fogerty, claims the weird images are inspired by Dr Seuss’ children’s books he was reading to his 3 year old son Josh rather than any drugs. “I smoked a little pot [i.e. marijuana],” admits Fogerty. “I think my bandmates smoked quite a bit more pot. I had rules: Never do that when we’re recording, never do that when we’re playing.” Musically, the song’s rough-hewn washboard rhythm lends it a delightfully ramshackle homespun feel. Reportedly, ‘Lookin’ Out My Back Door’ is a tribute to the Bakersfield sound, a type of country music that is not slick and scorns such sweeteners as violins and string sections. One of the main architects of that sound is Buck Owens (whose biggest hits are in the 1960s). He is even mentioned in the lyrics to ‘Lookin’ Out My Back Door’: “There’s a giant doing cartwheels, a statute wearin’ high heels / Look at all the happy creatures dancing on the lawn / A dinosaur Victrola list’ning to Buck Owens.” (Note: A ‘Victrola’ is an old-fashioned wind-up record player.) The flipside of the single, ‘Long As I Can See The Light’, is also on this album. ‘Long As I Can See The Light’ is a soulful reverie with a smoky saxophone and church-like organ lending the song a distinctive feel. ‘Ramble Tamble’ is a seven-minute psychedelic piece. ‘Cosmo’s Factory’ includes a quartet of cover versions. These are high-spirited and sure-footed takes on Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup’s 1950 song ‘My Baby Left Me’, Bo Diddley’s 1957 song ‘Before You Accuse Me’ and Roy Orbison’s 1956 song ‘Ooby Dooby’, but perhaps the most interesting of the four is ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’. This track was originally recorded by Gladys Knight And The Pips in September 1967 before being covered by fellow Motown Records artists The Miracles in 1968 and Marvin Gaye on 30 October 1968. All these versions predate Creedence’s interpretation. Yet John Fogerty and company still find something new in its sense of fear and voodoo rhythms. Creedence’s version turns into a marathon clocking in at 11:04. Bassist Stu Cook says, “Each album had a longish track on it, but they were never jams, per se…they were all pretty structured. There was no space to noodle.” “’Cosmo’s Factory’ just seems to be so full of songs that people knew,” observes John Fogerty. It represents the ‘commercial zenith’ of Creedence Clearwater Revival.
‘Pendulum’ (1970) (US no. 5, UK no. 8, AUS no. 1) comes out on 7 December. This is considered to be ‘the most sonically adventurous CCR album.’ The single taken from ‘Pendulum’ is ‘Have You Ever Seen The Rain’ (US no. 8, UK no. 36, AUS no. 6) b/w ‘Hey Tonight’. ‘Have You Ever Seen The Rain’ is a bookend for ‘Who’ll Stop The Rain’, both being country-influenced laments portraying rain as a hardship. The lyrics ask, “Have you ever seen the rain / Comin’ down on a sunny day?” Some listeners see ‘Have You Ever Seen The Rain’ as a commentary on the war in Vietnam (for ‘rain’ read ‘bombs’), but the song’s writer, John Fogerty, says the song is actually about the rising tension between him and his brother, rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty. ‘Hey Tonight’ is a basic party anthem but its bell-like guitar chimes make its simple sentiments appealing. ‘Pendulum’ is also home to some other noteworthy songs. ‘Molina’ bops along on an electric keyboard riff (played by John Fogerty), singling it out from Creedence’s usual guitar-driven fare. Saxophone underlines this account of a wild girl having a good time. ‘Pagan Baby’ is a corrosive piece. Elsewhere on this album, through multi-tracking John Fogerty plays the parts of a whole horn section on his own.
In February 1971 rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty leaves Creedence Clearwater Revival. A ‘lack of opportunity, along with the festering long-standing animosity with his brother [Creedence’s leader, John Fogerty], lead him to leave the band.’ Tom Fogerty ‘had not gone into music to be his brother John’s sideman.’ Drummer Doug ‘Cosmo’ Clifford says, “[Bassist] Stu [Cook] and I always stuck up for Tom, and that put us in the doghouse with John.” John Fogerty comments, “The best I can say in Tom’s case is he was the older brother and the younger brother had a lot more talent, therefore he was jealous even to a greater degree than the other two in Creedence Clearwater Revival.” Tom Fogerty is not replaced. Creedence Clearwater Revival continues as a trio.
In July 1971 comes the next single by Creedence Clearwater Revival. ‘Sweet Hitch-Hiker’ (US no. 6, UK no. 36, AUS no. 12) is a tough and taut tribute to a blonde girl standing by the side of the road. In the lyric, the song’s composer, John Fogerty, barks, “Sweet hitch-hiker / We could make music at the Greasy King.” ‘The Greasy King’ is a restaurant in El Cerrito, the town where the band grew up.
In July 1971 Creedence Clearwater Revival begins a major U.S. tour. In October 1971 the group undertakes its second European tour. In February 1972 Creedence Clearwater Revival goes on a concert tour of Australia and Japan.
‘Mardi Gras’ (1972) (US no. 12, AUS no. 8) is released on 11 April. This album comes out after what is, by Creedence’s standards, an uncharacteristically lengthy delay from their previous album. ‘Mardi Gras’ includes the 1971 single ‘Sweet Hitch-Hiker’. The new single from the album is ‘Someday Never Comes’ (US no. 25, AUS no. 15). This is a country-tinged account of the cyclical nature of parental neglect. Songwriter John Fogerty describes this as “a song about my parents undergoing a divorce when I was a child and me not knowing many things…I had a son in 1966 and I went away when he was 5 years old…” [Fogerty and his wife separated for a year in 1970-1971.] John Fogerty also contributes a knockabout semi-country song called ‘Lookin’ For A Reason’ to this album and does the lead vocals for the group’s cover version of ‘Hello Mary Lou’. This oldie was first recorded by Johnny Duncan in 1960 but Ricky Nelson’s 1961 version is probably more famous. These songs add up to John Fogerty’s contribution to ‘Mardi Gras’. The other members of Creedence Clearwater Revival, bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug ‘Cosmo’ Clifford, have been agitating for the group to become more democratic. The departure of Tom Fogerty in February 1971 only aggravated this situation. On ‘Mardi Gras’, John Fogerty gives his comrades what they want. For this reason, some wags refer to ‘Mardi Gras’ as ‘Fogerty’s Revenge’. Even the album cover is different. It is the only one of their albums not to feature a photo of the band on the front cover; instead, there is an image of a little girl with a tambourine. ‘Mardi Gras’ is co-produced by John Fogerty, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford. John tells his bandmates, “My voice is a unique instrument, and I will not lend it to your songs.” So Stu Cook contributes three songs, Doug Clifford offers two songs and Cook and Clifford collaborate on one more song. The trouble is ‘Stu Cook and Doug Clifford simply do not write or sing as well as John Fogerty.’ Assessments of the album include, ‘”Mardi Gras” wasn’t bad, just mediocre,’ ‘”Mardi Gras” was not popular with the fans,’ ‘a total disaster’ and ‘perhaps the worst album ever recorded by a top-league band.’ John Fogerty says, “I wouldn’t even count ‘Mardi Gras’ and neither would anybody else. I had no control over anything after that [first six albums]. The rest is horse manure – baloney.”
The power struggle between the members of Creedence Clearwater Revival leaves the group damaged, probably to a point beyond repair. However, there is another factor that dooms the group. By 1972, Creedence’s leader John Fogerty feels that Fantasy Records boss ‘Saul Zaentz has reneged on his promise to give the band a better contract.’ Bassist Stu Cook (who has a business degree) thinks it was just a matter of poor judgment on Fogerty’s part. So the band is riven by divisions both internal (between the musicians) and external (between the band and their record company).
On 16 October 1972 Creedence Clearwater Revival issue a statement announcing their break-up. Actually, the text says, “We don’t regard this as breaking up. We look at it as an expansion of our activities. We will devote our time to individual rather than group projects.” However it is phrased, the reality is that the band is finished.
So what happens after Creedence Clearwater Revival disbands?
Former Creedence Clearwater Revival leader, vocalist, lead guitarist, songwriter and producer John Fogerty begins a solo career. In the wake of the break-up, ‘Fogerty’s is the name that matters.’ Yet, strangely enough, when his album ‘Blue Ridge Rangers’ (1973) (US no. 47, AUS no. 28) is released, it is implied that the disc is the work of a five-piece band of the same name. In truth, Fogerty sings, plays all the instruments and produces. The disc yields two singles, cover versions of ‘Jambalaya (On The Bayou)’ (US no. 16, AUS no. 12) and ‘Hearts Of Stone’ (US no. 37). Another (non-album) single is released under the Blue Ridge Rangers name, 1973’s ‘Back In The Hills’ (US no. 107) b/w ‘You Don’t Owe Me’. This is followed in early 1974 by the first single credited to John Fogerty, ‘Coming Down The Road’ b/w ‘Ricochet’. A non-album single, this is also a non-charting single. While ‘Blue Ridge Rangers’ was released by Fantasy Records (Creedence Clearwater Revival’s old label), ‘John Fogerty’ (1975) (US no. 78, AUS no. 52) comes out in the U.S. on Asylum Records. The album spawns two singles, ‘Rockin’ All Over The World’ (US no. 27, AUS no. 55) (covered in 1977 by British rock band Status Quo) and ‘Almost Saturday Night’ (US no. 87). John Fogerty releases a single called ‘You Got The Magic’ (US no. 87) in 1976. This comes from the aborted album ‘Hoodoo’ (1976), which remains unreleased. John Fogerty remains silent until ‘Centerfield’ (1985) (US no. 1, UK no. 48, AUS no. 4), the first of four albums he makes for Warner Bros. ‘Centerfield’ is another disc on which Fogerty sings, plays all the instruments and produces. This album is home to the singles ‘The Old Man Down The Road’ (US no. 10, UK no. 90, AUS no. 10), ‘Rock And Roll Girls’ (US no. 44) and ‘Centerfield’ (US no. 44). Buoyed by the success of ‘Centerfield’, Fogerty follows up with the darker ‘Eye Of The Zombie’ (1986) (US no. 26, AUS no. 17). The title track, ‘Eye Of The Zombie’ (US no. 81, AUS no. 30), makes it to the singles chart. Another long absence follows. John Fogerty finally returns with ‘Blue Moon Swamp’ (1997) (US no. 37, UK no. 182, AUS no. 8), from which comes his last single to make the charts, ‘Walking In A Hurricane’ (AUS no. 71). The live album ‘Premonition’ (1998) (US no. 29, UK no. 172, AUS no. 25) is Fogerty’s final release for Warner Bros. ‘Déjà Vu (All Over Again)’ (2004) (US no. 23) is John Fogerty’s next album. It is released on the Dreamworks label. Fogerty returns to Fantasy Records for the compilation ‘The Long Road Home’ (2005) (US no. 13, UK no. 32, AUS no. 26) which combines Creedence Clearwater Revival songs with John Fogerty’s solo material. The live album ‘The Long Road Home – In Concert’ (2006) is also released by Fantasy. The compilation ‘The Best Of The Songs Of John Fogerty’ (2007) is issued by Hip-O on 1 May. This is followed on 2 October by ‘Revival’ (2007) (US no. 14, UK no. 80, AUS no. 33), Fogerty’s last album for Fantasy. ‘The Blue Ridge Rangers Ride Again’ (2009) (US no. 24, UK no. 98, AUS no. 83) comes out on the Verve label. ‘Wrote A Song For Everyone’ (2013) (US no. 3, UK no. 75, AUS no. 6), released by Vanguard, has two new songs but most of the album consists of John Fogerty performing versions of his past hits as duets with other recording artists (e.g. The Foo Fighters (on ‘Fortunate Son’), Bob Seger). The autobiographical book ‘Fortunate Son: My Life, My Music’ (2015) by John Fogerty is published by Little, Brown and Company on 8 October. It is said that John Fogerty ‘produces the only notable work after the quartet [of Creedence Clearwater Revival] breaks up.’
The long silence John Fogerty maintains in the period 1976 to 1985 is due to him being ‘unable to write music during this period of his life, primarily due to stresses from ongoing financial and legal difficulties with Fantasy Records.’ Particularly troubling is John Fogerty being in conflict with his brother Tom Fogerty. “In some trick of mental agility, he [Tom] ended up befriending [Fantasy Records boss] Saul Zaentz against me,” says John. In a bizarre development, shortly after the release of ‘Centerfield’ (1985), John Fogerty finds himself faced with a lawsuit for plagiarising himself. According to the lawsuit, Fogerty’s solo hit ‘The Old Man Down The Road’ is like the Creedence Clearwater Revival song ‘Run Through The Jungle’, which is owned by a publishing company associated with Fantasy Records. After visiting the grave in Mississippi of the blues musician Robert Johnson in 1990, John Fogerty ‘has the realisation that Robert Johnson was the true spiritual owner of his [own] songs, no matter what businessman owned the rights to them, and thus Fogerty decides to make a new album and to perform his old Creedence material regularly in concert.’ Fantasy Records is sold to Concord Records in 2004. The new owners take steps to restore royalty rights to Fogerty that he gave up to be released from his contract with Fantasy in the mid-1970s. This explains why John Fogerty returns to Fantasy from 2005 to 2007.
In his personal life, John Fogerty divorces his first wife, Martha Piaz. By one account, they divorce in the 1970s; another version has it that the divorce occurs in March 1984. While on tour in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1986 John Fogerty meets Julie Lebiedzinksi (born Julie Kramer). They move in together in 1987. John and Julie marry in Elkhart, Indiana, on 20 April 1991. Julie has a daughter, Lyndsay Lebiedzinski (born in 1984), from her previous marriage. Lyndsay adopts the surname of her new stepfather, becoming Lyndsay Fogerty. John Fogerty and his second wife, Julie, have three children together: two sons, Shane (born in October 1991) and Tyler (born in October 1992), and a daughter, Kelsy Cameron Fogerty (born on 10 May 2001). “Julie truly transformed my life,” John says of his second wife. “All that good feeling forced out all the bitterness.”
Former Creedence Clearwater Revival rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty issues the solo albums ‘Tom Fogerty’ (1972) (US no. 78), ‘Excalibur’ (1972), ‘Zephyr International’ (1974) and ‘Myopia’ (1974) on Fantasy Records. The song ‘Joyful Resurrection’ from ‘Zephyr International’ purports to tell the story of Creedence Clearwater Revival. Creedence veterans Stu Cook (bass) and Doug ‘Cosmo’ Clifford (drums) also play on the track. Completing the picture, John Fogerty adds some lead guitar lines – though his contributions are overdubs done on his own to avoid lingering intra-band resentments. In 1976 Tom Fogerty begins working with a backing group called Ruby. It may be recalled that Ruby was one of the names tossed around as The Golliwogs searched for a new tag, eventually settling on Creedence Clearwater Revival. The line-up of Tom Fogerty And Ruby is: Tom Fogerty (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Randy Oda (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Anthony Davis (bass, vocals) and Bobby Cochran (drums, vocals). Tom Fogerty And Ruby release two albums: ‘Ruby’ (1976) and ‘Rock & Roll Madness’ (1978). These recordings are on PBR International, a little U.S. label from California created by Patrick Boyce. Tom Fogerty resumes his solo career – and returns to the Fantasy label – for ‘Deal It Out’ (1980). Fantasy also releases ‘Precious Gems’ (1984) by Tom Fogerty And Ruby.
Tom Fogerty divorces his first wife, Gail Skinner, in 1977. He marries his second wife, Tricia Suzanne Clapper, on 19 October 1980. Tom and Tricia have two daughters, Ashley Suzanne and Nicole Elizabeth. Suffering from back ailments, Tom Fogerty seeks treatment through blood transfusions. It is via these blood transfusions that Tom Fogerty contracts the AIDS virus. It weakens his immune system so much that when he contracts a tuberculosis infection, it proves fatal. Tom Fogerty dies on 6 September 1990. He was 48 years old. At the time of his death, Tom Fogerty was still feuding with his brother, John. At Tom’s funeral, John says, “We wanted to grow up and be musicians. I guess we achieved half of that, becoming rock ‘n’ roll stars. We didn’t necessarily grow up.”
‘Sidekicks’ (1992), a duet album by Tom Fogerty and his Ruby colleague Randy Oda, is released after Tom’s death. The final chapter is the compilation, ‘The Very Best Of Tom Fogerty’ (1999). Both of these discs are issued by Fantasy.
Former Creedence Clearwater Revival bassist Stu Cook becomes part of The Don Harrison Band. This trio consists of Don Harrison (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Stu Cook (bass) and Cook’s Creedence comrade Doug ‘Cosmo’ Clifford (drums). The group releases two albums on Atlantic Records, ‘The Don Harrison Band’ (1976) and ‘Red Hot’ (1977). Next, Stu Cook joins country music act Southern Pacific. The group is founded in 1983, but Cook does not join until 1986 when he replaces original bassist Jerry Scheff. The 1986 line-up is: Timothy Goodman (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), John McFee (guitar), Kurt Howell (piano), Stu Cook (bass) and Keith Knudsen (drums). John McFee and Keith Knudsen are both former members of U.S. rock band The Doobie Brothers. From 1987 to 1989 David Jenkins replaces Timothy Goodman as lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist. Jenkins leaves in 1991 and the group’s final incarnation is as a quartet, with John McFee stepping up to take on lead vocals as well as playing guitar. Southern Pacific breaks up in 1991. Stu Cook appears on four albums with Southern Pacific: ‘Killbilly Hill’ (1986), ‘Zuma’ (1988), ‘County Line’ (1990) and ‘Greatest Hits’ (1991). All these albums are on Warner Bros. Records. In 1995 Stu Cook reunites with Doug ‘Cosmo’ Clifford for Creedence Clearwater Revisited. As the name suggests, this is a Creedence Clearwater Revival tribute act, playing all the old CCR hits. A 1997 legal injunction from former Creedence leader John Fogerty causes the group to change its name to Cosmo’s Factory. However, the court rules in their favour, so in 1998 Cook and company return to using the name of Creedence Clearwater Revisited. Their best known line-up is: John ‘Bulldog’ Tristao (lead vocals, guitar), Steve ‘The Captain’ Gunner (guitar, harmonica, keyboards, backing vocals), Kurt Griffey (lead guitar), Stu Cook (bass) and Doug ‘Cosmo’ Clifford (drums). Earlier members are Tal Morris (guitar) and Elliot Easton (guitar). Easton is more closely identified with U.S. new wave band The Cars. The only album released by Creedence Clearwater Revisited is the two disc live set ‘Recollection’ (1998) on Fuel 2000. These concert recordings of old Creedence hits were recorded from January 1995 to February 1998. Elliot Easton plays on this album as it predates Kurt Griffey joining the band. The album ‘Jackdawg’ (2009) is co-credited to Stu Cook, Keith Knudsen and John McFee. The material on this disc was recorded in 1990 when the trio were all still in Southern Pacific.
Former Creedence Clearwater Revival drummer Doug ‘Cosmo’ Clifford releases one solo album, ‘Cosmo’ (1972), on Fantasy Records. Aside from that, Clifford’s subsequent career finds him in the company of former CCR bassist Stu Cook. The pair appears on The Don Harrison Band albums ‘The Don Harrison Band’ (1976) and ‘Red Hot’ (1977) and the Creedence Clearwater Revisited live album ‘Recollection’ (1998).
The musical legacy of Creedence Clearwater Revival survives through a series of live albums and compilations of past hits. All these recordings are issued by Fantasy Records unless otherwise stated. The first live album is ‘Live In Europe’ (1973) (US no. 143), a double album recorded between 4 September 1971 and 28 September 1971 by the final three-piece incarnation of Creedence Clearwater Revival. The only other live recording is ‘The Concert’ (1980) (US no. 62). This album was originally titled ‘The Royal Albert Hall Concert’…until it was discovered that the tapes did not date from that London gig but rather came from a performance at Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California, on 31 January 1970. Subsequent printings retitle the album as ‘The Concert’. Compilation albums assembled from the highlights of the career of Creedence Clearwater Revival include the following: ‘Creedence Gold’ (1972) (US no. 15, AUS no. 9); ‘More Creedence Gold’ (1973) (US no. 61, AUS no. 41); ‘Pre Creedence’ (1975) [a compilation of The Golliwogs recordings]; ‘Chronicle Vol. 1’ (1976) (US no. 22, AUS no. 29); ‘Creedence Country’ (1981); ‘Chooglin’’ (1982) (US no. 202); ‘Chronicle Vol. 2’ (1986); ‘21st Anniversary: The Ultimate Collection (24 Classic Hits)’ (1989) (AUS no. 3); ‘Keep On Chooglin’’ (1995) [a two CD set]; ‘Creedence Clearwater Revival Box Set’ (2001) [a six CD collection that includes some Golliwogs material]; ‘Chronicle: The 20 Greatest Hits’ (2003) (US no. 22, AUS no. 22) [released by Universal]; and ‘The Ultimate Collection’ (2012) (AUS no. 10) [a two CD set from Universal/Fantasy]. In addition, Creedence’s version of ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ (US no. 43) from ‘Cosmo’s Factory’ (1970) is released as a single in 1976.
Creedence Clearwater Revival never reunites – at least not in any lasting, significant way. There are some positive signs along the way but always one party or another puts an end to the speculation. Some of the notable ‘close calls’ are listed as follows: (1) 1974 – All four members of CCR play on ‘Joyful Resurrection’, a track on Tom Fogerty’s ‘Zephyr International’ album. However, John Fogerty’s guitar parts are overdubbed; he is not in the recording studio at the same time as his former colleagues. (2) 1976-1977 – Bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug ‘Cosmo’ Clifford are both members of The Don Harrison Band. (3) 19 October 1980 – The only time all four ex-members of CCR perform together is at the reception following Tom Fogerty’s wedding to Tricia Clapper. (4) November 1983 – At their twentieth class reunion, John Fogerty, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford play a forty-five minute set for their old classmates. (5) 1988 – At their twenty-fifth class reunion, the duo of John Fogerty and Doug Clifford play a brief musical set. (6) 1993 – Creedence Clearwater Revival is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. John Fogerty refuses to perform with Stu Cook and Doug Clifford at the ceremony (Tom Fogerty passed away in 1990). Instead, John Fogerty uses an all-star backing outfit including Bruce Springsteen and The Band’s Robbie Robertson. (7) 1995 on – Stu Cook and Doug Clifford tour with Creedence Clearwater Revisited.
Did John Fogerty dominate Creedence Clearwater Revival? And, if so, was that a bad thing? Creedence ‘couldn’t be said to have been a democratic unit.’ ‘Although friction in the band possibly arose because Fogerty regarded himself as the lynch-pin of the whole operation, the fact remains that he was.’ “I was alone when I made that [Creedence] music,” says Fogerty. “The other guys showed up for rehearsals and the days we made the actual recordings…I was the one who had to create all this.” ‘The hard truth is that The Blue Velvets and The Golliwogs would never have gotten anywhere if John had not stepped forward with his songs.’ So the answer seems to be that, yes, John Fogerty did dominate Creedence Clearwater Revival. It may have been a ‘bad thing’ in terms of the band’s interpersonal relationships, but – in commercial terms – it was a very ‘good thing.’ The group did very well in record sales and creative accomplishments under John Fogerty’s stewardship. When, on ‘Mardi Gras’ (1972), the power was equally distributed amongst all band members, the results were less impressive. This created the reasonable expectation that John Fogerty’s solo career – unburdened by his bandmates – would also be very successful. Drummer Doug Clifford says, “In four years we [Creedence Clearwater Revival] had twenty hits: in forty-four years as a solo artist, John has two hit singles – I rest my case.” He has a point (though Creedence had twelve U.S. top forty hits and Fogerty had four U.S. top forty singles as a solo act). Perhaps John Fogerty’s post-Creedence creativity was thwarted by squabbles with Fantasy Records and his ex-colleagues? Or it could be that his peak creative period had passed, regardless of the situation. Doug Clifford might be closer to the mark when he says, “We were a band…There was a magic chemistry with the four guys.”
Regardless of the unpleasant nature of the band’s demise, the music created by Creedence Clearwater Revival remained powerful. Its pure connection to the rich, earthy foundations of rock ‘n’ roll ensured its enduring appeal. Perhaps, had they continued, their legend would have tarnished. Crafting four classic albums (‘Bayou Country’ to ‘Cosmo’s Factory’) within just over eighteen months, suggests a creative hothouse that was probably unsustainable. But the results were glorious and, it must be acknowledged, they were largely due to John Fogerty. Creedence Clearwater Revival ‘evoked enduring images of Americana and reflected burning social issues of the day’. They were ‘unquestionably one of the greatest American rock bands ever’.
- ‘The Illustrated New Musical Express Encyclopedia Of Rock’ by Nick Logan, Bob Woffinden (Salamander Books, 1978) p. 61, 85
- wikipedia.org as at 10 March 2017
- prabook.com as at 13 March 2017
- encyclopedia.com – ‘John Fogerty’ – no author credited – as at 11 March 2017
- ‘Bad Moon Rising: The Unauthorized History of Creedence Clearwater Revival’ by Hank Bordowitz (Chicago Review Press, 2007) p. 7, 8, 10, 12, 16, 18, 20, 28, 30, 31, 67, 103 via googlebooks.com
- Internet Movie Database – imdb.com – as at 11 March 2017
- americansongwriter.com – ‘John Fogerty – The Extended Interview’ by Lynne Margolis (28 May 2013)
- rockabilly.nl – ‘Tom Fogerty’ by Phil Davies as at 12 March 2017
- seniorcitylocal.com – ‘Celebrating Seniors – John Fogerty Turns 70’ – no author credited (28 May 2015) – including correction from Lauren Laliberte (18 June 2016)
- ‘The Guardian’ (U.K. newspaper) – ‘John Fogerty: “I had Rules. I wasn’t Embarrassed that I was Ambitious”’ – interview conducted by Dorian Lynskey (29 May 2013) (reproduced on theguardian.com)
- biography.com – ‘John Fogerty’ – no author credited – as at 11 March 2017
- ‘The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll’, ‘Creedence Clearwater Revival’ by Ellen Willis (Plexus Publishing Limited,1992) p. 448, 449, 450
- ‘Rolling Stone’ (U.S. rock magazine) – ‘John Fogerty: My Anger Towards Creedence Bandmates has Faded’ – interview conducted by Andy Greene (25 October 2011) (reproduced on rollingstone.com)
- ‘The Illustrated Rock Handbook’ edited by Roxanne Streeter, Ray Bonds (Salamander Books, 1983) p. 34, 52, 150
- ultimateclassicrock.com – ‘The History of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Tom Fogerty’ by Dave Lifton (6 September 2015)
- maestrogaxiolawrites.blogspot.com.au – ‘The Rise and Fall of Creedence Clearwater Revival’ as at 13 March 2017
- creedence-online.net – ‘Creedence Clearwater Revival History’ – as at 13 March 2017
- fanpageccrjohnfogerty.blogspot.com.au – ‘Jeff Fogerty – The First Son of Tom Fogerty’ by Charles Lenine (6 July 2015)
- forbassplayersonly.com – ‘Stu Cook’ – interview conducted by Jon Liebman (15 October 2012)
- ultimateclassicrock.com – ‘Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Doug Clifford Discusses his Influences, Punk Rock and Revisited’s Future’ – interview conducted by Matthew Wilkening (13 October 2011)
- classicbands.com – ‘Gary James’ Interview with Doug “Cosmo” Clifford’ as at 13 March 2017
- ‘The Rolling Stone Rock Almanac’ by the Editors of ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine (Papermac, 1984) p. 27, 159, 160, 161, 162, 163, 191, 205, 217
- google search (11 March 2017) [for Stu Cook’s birthplace]
- ‘John Fogerty: An American Son’ by Thomas M. Kitts (Routledge, 2016) p. 30, 36, 37 via googlebooks.com
- ultimateclassicrock.com – ‘Doug Clifford on CCR’s Beginning: “We were Terrible”’ – interview conducted by Jeff Giles (21 June 2013)
- allmusic.com – ‘Creedence Clearwater Revival’ by Richie Unterberger as at 12 March 2017
- allmusic.com – ‘Tom Fogerty’ by Richie Unterberger as at 12 March 2017
- marinij.com – ‘El Cerrito a Source of Fond Memories, Fogerty Writes in Autobiography’ by Rick Radin (14 October 2015) [John Fogerty attended Contra Costa College]
- ‘Green River’ – Sleeve notes (Fantasy Records, 1969) p. 2
- ‘Friday On My Mind’ by Ed Nimmervoll (Five Mile Press, 2004) p. 79
- ‘The 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time’ – ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine (February 2004) p. 48, 68
- ‘Uncut’ (U.K. rock magazine) – ‘John Fogerty’s Guide to Creedence Clearwater Revival’ – by Tom Pinnock & (interview) Bud Scoppa (10 August 2012) via 2 (above) [‘Creedence Clearwater Revival’ LP, ‘Cosmo’s Factory’ LP]
- metrolyrics.com as at 11 March 2017
- songfacts.com as at 12 March 2017 [‘Porterville’]
- ‘21st Anniversary – The Ultimate Collection (24 Classic Hits)’ – Anonymous sleeve notes (Fantasy Records/Festival, 1989) p. 2, 3
- ‘Guitar World’ – ‘Proud John’ (August 1998) – interview with John Fogerty conducted by Harold Steinblatt via 2 (above) [‘Creedence Clearwater Revival’ LP, ‘Born On The Bayou’ LP]
- classicrockrevisited (website) – Article by Jeb Wright via 2 (above) [‘Born On The Bayou’ LP]
- ‘Pop Chronicles’ (1970) via 2 (above) [‘Born On The Bayou’ LP]
- ‘Lodi News-Sentinel’ (Lodi, U.S.A., newspaper) – ‘Residents are Proud to be Stuck in Lodi’ by Ross Farrow via 2 (above) [‘Green River’ LP]
- ‘Rolling Stone’ (U.S. rock magazine) – ‘Q & A: John Fogerty on All-Star Duets LP, Unlikely Creedence Reunion’ by Andy Greene via 2 (above) [‘Green River’ LP]
- ‘Rolling Stone’ (U.S. rock magazine) – ‘Fortunate Son – John Fogerty – the 1995 Rolling Stone Interview’ – conducted by Michael Goldberg via 2 (above) [‘Green River’ LP]
- musoscribe.com – Stu Cook interview conducted by Bill Kopp via 2 (above) [‘Cosmo’s Factory’ LP]
- ‘The Guardian’ (U.K. newspaper) – ‘The Saddest Story in Rock’ – John Fogerty interview conducted by Adam Sweeting (11 July 2000) via 15 (above)
- ‘Rolling Stone’ (U.S. rock magazine) – ‘John’s Clearwater Credo: Proud Fogerty Post-Creedence’ – interview with John Fogerty conducted by Cameron Crowe (6 May 1976) via 2 (above) [‘Mardi Gras’ LP]
- allmusic.com – ‘John Fogerty’ by William Ruhlmann as at 12 March 2017
- goodreads.com as at 11 March 2017
- whosdatedwho.com as at 11 March 2017
- myheritage.com as at 13 March 2017
- discogs.com as at 24 March 2017 [PBR International label]
- ccr-tribute.sverige.net as at 16 March 2017 [Date of twentieth class reunion]
- ‘Pop Magazine’ (Swedish magazine) – ‘Blue Moon Swamp Interview’ with John Fogerty (1997) via 2 (above) [Creedence Clearwater Revival – general]
Song lyrics copyright Warner/Chappell Music Australia (1968-April 1969) and Hebbes Music Group Pty Limited (June 1969- 1970) with the exceptions of: ‘Porterville’ (Concord Music Group Inc.); ‘Down On The Corner’ and ‘Lookin’ Out My Back Door’ (both The Bicycle Music Company); and ‘Sweet Hitch-Hiker’ (Sony/ATV Publishing Inc.)
Last revised 2 April 2017