John Fogerty booking
John Fogerty’s fervent vocals and modernized rockabilly songs built on his classic guitar riffs made
Creedence Clearwater Revival the preeminent American singles band of the late 1960s and early
1970s. The Fogerty brothers were raised in Berkeley, where John studied piano and at the age of 12
got his first guitar. He met Cook and Clifford at the El Cerrito junior high school they all attended. They
began playing together, and by 1959 were performing at local dances as Tommy Fogerty and the Blue
Velvets. In 1964 the quartet signed to San Francisco–based Fantasy Records, where Tom had been
working as a packing and shipping clerk. The label renamed them the Golliwogs and began putting out
singles. “Brown-Eyed Girl” sold 10,000 copies in 1965, but the followups were flops. Greater success
came after they adopted the CCR moniker in 1967.
Several Fogerty compositions appeared on Creedence Clearwater Revival, but cover versions of Dale
Hawkins’ “Suzie Q” and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You” were the group’s first hit
singles. With the release of Bayou Country it became the most popular rock band in America.
Beginning with the two-sided gold hit “Proud Mary” (Number Two, 1969) b/w “Born on the Bayou,”
Creedence dominated Top 40 radio for two years without disappointing the anticommercial element of
the rock audience.
CCR’s rough-hewn rockers often dealt with political and cultural issues, and the quartet appeared at
the Woodstock Festival. Creedence had seven major hit singles in 1969 and 1970, including “Bad
Moon Rising” (Number Two, 1969), “Green River” (Number Two, 1969), “Fortunate Son” (Number 14,
1969), “Down on the Corner” (Number Three, 1969), “Travelin’ Band” (Number Two, 1970), “Up
Around the Bend” (Number Four, 1970), and “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” (Number Two, 1970).
Although Creedence’s success continued after Cosmo’s Factory, it was the group’s artistic peak.
Internal dissension, primarily the result of John Fogerty’s dominant role, began to pull the band apart
in the early ’70s. Tom left in January 1971, one month after the release of the pivotal Pendulum which
became the group’s fifth platinum album. The band carried on as a trio, touring worldwide; Live in
Europe was the recorded result. CCR’s final album, Mardi Gras, gave Cook and Clifford an equal
share of the songwriting and lead vocals. It was the band’s first album not to go platinum. Creedence
disbanded in October 1972, and Fantasy has subsequently released a number of albums, including a
live recording of a 1970 Oakland concert, which upon original release was erroneously titled Live at
Albert Hall (it was later retitled The Concert).
Tom Fogerty released a number of albums on his own and with his band Ruby, and worked
occasionally in the early ’70s with organist Merle Saunders and Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia.
He moved to Arizona in the mid-’80s and died there from respiratory failure brought on by AIDS in
1990 at age 48. Clifford released a solo album in 1972 of ’50s-style rock & roll. Thereafter, he and
Cook provided the rhythm section for Doug Sahm on his 1974 LP and the Don Harrison Band after
1976. In the mid-’80s Cook joined country group Southern Pacific, which had several hits.Not surprisingly, John Fogerty’s solo pursuits have attracted the greatest attention. Immediately after
the breakup he released a bluegrass/country album, The Blue Ridge Rangers, on which he played all
the instruments. Two songs, the Hank Williams classic “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” and “Hearts of
Stone,” made the Top 40. Nearly three years passed before his next LP, another one-man show
titled John Fogerty. It sold poorly, and his next album, to be called Hoodoo, was rejected by Asylum
Records. Fogerty and his family retired to a farm in rural Oregon. Except for two brief Creedence
reunions he was not heard from for 10 years.
He emerged with Centerfield (Number One, 1985), a typically simple, tuneful collection that sold 2
million copies and produced hit singles in “The Old Man Down the Road” (Number 10, 1985), “Rock
and Roll Girls” (Number 20, 1985), and “Centerfield” (Number 44, 1985). “Old Man” and another song
from the album, “Zanz Kant Danz,” landed Fogerty in legal trouble however. The latter, a thinly veiled
attack against Fantasy owner Saul Zaentz (“Zanz can’t dance but he’ll steal your money”), led Zaentz
to sue for $142 million, not only over that song, but over “Old Man”: Fantasy claimed the song
plagiarized the music of the 1970 CCR B side “Run Through the Jungle.” In 1988 a jury ruled in
Fogerty’s favor; six years later the Supreme Court ordered Fantasy to reimburse Fogerty for over $1
million in lawyers’ fees.
For years Fogerty refused to perform CCR songs live; he’d had to surrender his artist’s royalties on
them to get out of his Fantasy contract in the ’70s. But during a July 4, 1987, concert for Vietnam
veterans in Washington, DC, he broke his boycott, singing eight Creedence classics. He then dropped
out of sight again, surfacing only for the annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies; in
1993 his own turn came when CCR were inducted into the hall. Fogerty refused to perform with Cook
and Clifford that evening.
After a decade remission, Fogerty released Blue Moon Swamp (Number 37, 1997); inspired by several
trips to the Mississippi Delta, the album had taken over four years to make. It went on to win a
Grammy for Best Rock Album, while the single “Southern Streamline” hit Number 67 on the C&W
chart. Fogerty followed up the release with an extensive U.S. tour on which he played many CCR
classics such as “Proud Mary” and “Fortunate Son” along with his new material; the live
album Premonition (Number 29) was released the following year.
In 1995 Cook and Clifford started touring as Creedence Clearwater Revisited. Fogerty sued and won a
temporary injunction barring them from using that name, but his former bandmates ultimately prevailed
in the case.
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