Creedence Clearwater Revival
|Creedence Clearwater Revival|
Creedence Clearwater Revival, 1968. L-R: Tom Fogerty, Doug Clifford, Stu Cook, and John Fogerty
|Origin||El Cerrito, California|
|Genres||Roots rock, country rock, blues rock, swamp rock, Southern rock, rock and roll|
|Associated acts||The Blue Velvets, The Golliwogs, Creedence Clearwater Revisited|
|Past members||John Fogerty
The band consisted of lead vocalist, lead guitarist, and primary songwriter John Fogerty, his brother and rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty, bassist Stu Cook, and drummer Doug Clifford. Their musical style encompassed the roots rock and swamp rock genres. Despite their San Francisco Bay Area origins, they portrayed themselves as Southern rock stylists, singing about bayous, the Mississippi River, catfish, and other popular elements of Southern iconography.
Creedence Clearwater Revival's music is still a staple of American and worldwide radio airplay and often figures in various media. The band has sold 26 million albums in the United States alone. Creedence Clearwater Revival was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. They were ranked at 82 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest artists of all time.
Before Creedence: 1959–1967 
John Fogerty, Doug Clifford, and Stu Cook (all born 1945) met at Portola Junior High School in El Cerrito, California and began playing instrumentals and "juke box standards" together under the name The Blue Velvets. The trio also backed singer Tom Fogerty— John Fogerty's older brother by three years—at live gigs and in the recording studio. By 1964, the band had signed to Fantasy Records, an independent jazz label based in San Francisco at the time. Fantasy had released Cast Your Fate to the Wind, a national hit for jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi. The record's success was the subject of a National Educational Television TV special, which prompted budding songwriter John Fogerty to contact the label. For the band's first release, however, Fantasy co-owner Max Weiss renamed the group the Golliwogs (after the children's literary character, Golliwogg), apparently to cash in on a wave of popular British bands with similar names.
During this period, band roles underwent some changes. Stu Cook had gone from piano to bass guitar and Tom Fogerty became the band's rhythm guitarist. John Fogerty also began to write much of the band's material. Most notably, the young guitarist had taken over lead vocal duty. As Tom Fogerty would later say, "I could sing, but John had a sound!"
Early success: 1967–68 
The group had suffered a setback in 1966 when the draft board called up John Fogerty and Doug Clifford for military service. Fogerty managed to enlist in the Army Reserve instead of the regular Army while Clifford did a tenure in the United States Coast Guard Reserve.
In 1967, Saul Zaentz purchased Fantasy Records from Weiss and offered the band a chance to record a full-length album, but only if the group changed its name. Never having liked The Golliwogs, the foursome readily agreed. Zaentz and the band agreed to come up with ten suggestions each, but he enthusiastically agreed to their first: Creedence Clearwater Revival. The band took the three elements from, first, Tom Fogerty's friend Credence Newball, (to whose first name Credence they added an extra 'e', making it resemble a faith or creed); second, "clear water" from a TV commercial for Olympia beer; and finally "revival", which spoke to the four members' renewed commitment to their band. Rejected contenders for the band's name included 'Muddy Rabbit', 'Gossamer Wump', and 'Creedence Nuball and the Ruby', but the last was the start that led to their finalized name.
By 1968, Fogerty and Clifford had been discharged from military service. All four members subsequently quit their jobs and began a heavy schedule of rehearsing and playing area clubs full-time. AM radio programmers around the United States took note when a song from the LP, "Suzie Q", received substantial airplay in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as on Chicago's WLS. A remake of a 1956 song by rockabilly singer Dale Hawkins, "Suzie Q" was the band's second single, and its first to crack the Top 40. Reaching No. 11 nationally, it would be Creedence's only Top 40 hit not written by John Fogerty. Two other singles from the debut were released: a cover of Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put a Spell On You" (which made it to No. 58) and "Porterville" (released on the Scorpio label with writing credited to "T. Spicebush Swallowtail"), written during John Fogerty's Army Reserve stint.
Peak success: 1969–70 
With a string of live dates around the country to capitalize on their breakthrough, Creedence Clearwater Revival was also hard at work on their second album Bayou Country at RCA Studios in Los Angeles. Released in January 1969 and becoming a No. 7 platinum hit, the record was the first in a string of hit albums and singles which continued uninterrupted for the next three years. The single "Proud Mary," backed with "Born on the Bayou," went to Number 2 on the national Billboard chart. The former would eventually become the group's most-covered song, with some 100 cover versions by other artists to date, including a hit version in 1971 by Ike & Tina Turner. John Fogerty cites this song as being the result of high spirits on gaining his discharge from the Army Reserve. The album also featured a remake of the rock & roll classic "Good Golly Miss Molly" and the band's nine-minute live-show closer, "Keep On Chooglin'".
Only weeks later, in March 1969, "Bad Moon Rising" backed with "Lodi" was released and peaked at No. 2 on the charts. The band's third album, Green River, followed in August and went gold along with the single "Green River," which again reached No. 2 on the Billboard charts. The B-side of "Green River," "Commotion" peaked at No. 30 and the band's emphasis on remakes of their old favorites continued with "Night Time Is the Right Time".
Creedence continued to tour heavily including performances at the Atlanta Pop Festival and Woodstock. Their set was not included in the Woodstock film or its original soundtrack because John Fogerty felt the band's performance was subpar. (Several tracks from the event were eventually included in the 1994 commemorative box set.) Stu Cook's view: "The performances are classic CCR and I'm still amazed by the number of people who don't even know we were one of the headliners at Woodstock '69." The band complained that they had to take the stage at three in the morning because the Grateful Dead had jammed so far past their scheduled set time that by the time Creedence began playing, many in the audience had gone to sleep.
After Woodstock, Creedence was busy honing material for a fourth album, Willy and the Poor Boys, released in November 1969. "Down on the Corner", a good-time street-corner number, and "Fortunate Son" climbed to No. 3 and No. 14, respectively, by year's end. The album was Creedence in its standard form, featuring Fogerty originals and two reworked Lead Belly covers, "Cotton Fields" and "Midnight Special." Both of the latter songs had also been performed by actor Harry Dean Stanton in the movie Cool Hand Luke, suggesting a subtle non-conformist theme to an apparently tradition-oriented album.
The year 1969 had been a remarkable chart year for the band: three Top Ten albums, four hit singles (charting at No. 2, No. 2, No. 2, and No. 3) with three additional charting B-sides. On November 16, 1969, they performed "Fortunate Son" and "Down on the Corner" on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Just after the new year, 1970, Creedence Clearwater Revival released another two-sided hit, "Travelin' Band"/"Who'll Stop the Rain." John Fogerty has said that the flip side was inspired by the band's experience at Woodstock. The speedy "Travelin' Band," however, bore enough similarities to "Good Golly, Miss Molly" to warrant a lawsuit by the song's publisher; it was eventually settled out of court. In the meantime, the single had topped out at No. 2. The band also recorded its January 31, 1970, live performance at the Oakland Coliseum Arena in Oakland, California, which would later be marketed as a live album and television special. In February, the Creedence foursome was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone, although only John Fogerty was interviewed in the accompanying article.
In April 1970, Creedence was set to begin its first European tour. To support the upcoming live dates, Fogerty wrote "Up Around the Bend," and "Run Through the Jungle." The single — which was written, recorded, and shipped in only a few days' time — went to No. 4 that spring. The band returned to Wally Heider's San Francisco studio in June to record what is arguably their finest album, Cosmo's Factory. The title was an in-joke about their various rehearsal facilities and factory work ethic over the years. (Drummer Doug Clifford's longtime nickname is "Cosmo," due to his keen interest in nature and all things cosmic.) The album contained the earlier Top 10 hits "Travelin' Band" and "Up Around the Bend" plus highly popular album tracks such as the opener "Ramble Tamble."
Cosmo's was released in July 1970, along with the band's fifth and final No. 2 national hit, "Lookin' Out My Back Door"/"Long As I Can See the Light." Though they topped some international charts and local radio countdowns, Creedence Clearwater Revival never had a No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hit—though both "Proud Mary" and "Bad Moon Rising" climbed to number one in Record World, a chart at least equal to Billboard's in prestige in the late Sixties. Their five No. 2 singles were exceeded only by Elvis Presley and Madonna with 6 each and tied with The Carpenters. The band has the odd distinction of having the most No. 2 singles on the Billboard charts without ever having had a No. 1. Curiously, on WLS, the band had three No. 1, four No. 3, two No. 4, but no No. 2, singles.
Other cuts on the "Cosmo's Factory" album included an eleven-minute jam of the 1967 and 1968 R&B hit "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" (which would become a minor hit when an edited version was released as a single in the 70s a few years after the group's breakup) and a nearly note-for-note homage to Roy Orbison's "Ooby Dooby." John Fogerty's musical range clearly had expanded.[according to whom?] He now wove in slide guitar, keyboards, saxophones, tape effects, and layered vocal harmonies--and he pushed himself vocally more than ever on "Long As I Can See the Light." The album, eleven songs in all, was Creedence's best seller and went straight to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album charts and No. 11 on Billboard's Soul Albums chart.
Decline and breakup: late 1970–1972 
The Cosmo's Factory sessions had seen the stirrings of tensions within the foursome as the incessant touring and heavy recording schedules took their toll. John Fogerty had taken control of the group in its business matters and its artistic output and the situation began to grate on Tom Fogerty, Cook, and Clifford. Fogerty resisted, feeling that a 'democratic' process would threaten their success. Other issues included Fogerty's decision at a 1970 Nebraska gig that the band would no longer give encores at its live shows.
Pendulum, released in December 1970, was another top seller, spawning a Top 10 hit with "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?". John Fogerty included Hammond B3 Organ on many of the Pendulum tracks, notably "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?", in recognition of the deep respect and influence of Booker T and The MG's, with whom the members of the band had jammed. The single's flip side, "Hey Tonight," was also a hit.
But even continued musical innovation and success could not resolve the differences between John and Tom Fogerty.[according to whom?] During the recording of Pendulum Tom Fogerty, who had already quit the band several times in disgust but was always talked into returning, left Creedence Clearwater Revival permanently. His departure was made public in February 1971. The band members considered replacing Tom but never did. Tom Fogerty stated on an Australian TV broadcast that no new member could endure being in Creedence.
In spring 1971, John Fogerty informed a startled Cook and Clifford the band would continue only by adopting a 'democratic' approach: each member would now write and sing his own material. Fogerty also would contribute only rhythm guitar to his bandmates' songs. Cook and Clifford, who had wanted more of a voice in the band's music and business decisions, resisted this arrangement. Fogerty insisted they accept the new arrangement, or he would quit the band. Despite the dissension, the trio put its new work ethic to the test in the studio, releasing the Top 10 single "Sweet Hitch-Hiker" in July 1971, backed with Stu Cook's "Door to Door." The band toured both the U.S. and Europe that summer and autumn, with Cook's song a part of the live set. In spite of their continuing commercial success, however, relations among the three had become increasingly strained.
The band's final album, Mardi Gras, was released in April 1972, featuring songs written by Fogerty, Cook, and Clifford and a cover of "Hello Mary Lou" (a song Gene Pitney originally wrote for Ricky Nelson.) It received mostly poor, even savage reviews: Rolling Stone reviewer Jon Landau called it "the worst album I have ever heard from a major rock band".
The sales of Mardi Gras were weaker than those of the previous albums, though not a flop commercially. Mardi Gras peaked at No. 12, perhaps due more to the strength of the Creedence name than to the particular music on the record. This final release had the worst showings of any Creedence album and single since 1968. The 1971 hit single "Sweet Hitch-Hiker"/"Door to Door" was included on the album. Fogerty's "Someday Never Comes," backed with Clifford's "Tearin' Up the Country," also cracked the US Top 40. The album was also notable for featuring songs written by all three members of the band, with the writer also singing their song. Not surprisingly, the LP has a disjointed feel, with only those by Fogerty having the identifiable Creedence sound.
By this point, Fogerty was not only at direct odds with his bandmates, but he had also come to see the group's relationship with Fantasy Records as onerous, feeling that label owner Saul Zaentz had reneged on his promise to give the band a better contract. Cook — who holds a degree in business — claimed that because of poor judgment on Fogerty's part, Creedence Clearwater Revival had to abide by the worst record deal of any major American recording artist. Despite the relatively poor reception of Mardi Gras and deteriorated relationships among the remaining band members, Creedence immediately embarked upon a two-month, 20-date U.S. tour. However, on October 16, 1972 – less than six months after the tour ended – Fantasy Records and the band officially announced the disbanding of Creedence Clearwater Revival. Creedence Clearwater Revival never formally reunited after the break-up, although Cook and Clifford eventually started the band Creedence Clearwater Revisited.
As for John Fogerty's thoughts on the band and its eventual demise, he told a Swedish magazine in 1997: "I was alone when I made that [Creedence] music. I was alone when I made the arrangements, I was alone when I added background vocals, guitars and some other stuff. I was alone when I produced and mixed the albums. The other guys showed up only for rehearsals and the days we made the actual recordings. For me Creedence was like sitting on a time bomb. We'd had decent successes with our cover of 'Suzie Q' and with the first album. When we went into the studio to cut 'Proud Mary,' it was the first time we were in a real Hollywood studio, RCA's Los Angeles studio, and the problems started immediately. The other guys in the band insisted on writing songs for the new album, they had opinions on the arrangements, they wanted to sing. They went as far as adding background vocals to 'Proud Mary,' and it sounded awful. They used tambourines, and it sounded no better.
"That's when I understood I had a choice to make. At that point in time we were just a one hit wonder, and 'Suzie Q' hadn't really been that big a hit. Either this [the new album] would be a success, something really big, or we might as well start working at the car wash again. There was a big row. We went to an Italian restaurant and I remember that I very clearly told the others that I for one didn't want to go back to the car wash again. Now we had to make the best possible album and it wasn't important who did what, as long as the result was the very best we could achieve. And of course I was the one who should do it. I don't think the others really understood what I meant, but at least I could manage the situation the way I wanted. The result was eight million-selling double-sided singles in a row and six albums, all of which went platinum. And Melody Maker had us as the best band in the world. That was after the Beatles split, but still... And I was the one who had created all this. Despite that, I don't think they understood what I was talking about....They were obsessed with the idea of more control and more influence. So finally the bomb exploded and we never worked together again."
After Creedence 
John Fogerty 
In 1973, Fogerty began his solo career with The Blue Ridge Rangers, his one-man band collection of country and gospel songs. Under his old Creedence contract, however, Fogerty owed Fantasy eight more records. In the end, he simply refused to work for the label any longer. The impasse was resolved only when Asylum Records' David Geffen bought Fogerty's contract for $1,000,000. His next major hit was Centerfield, a chart-topping success in 1985. On tour in 1986, however, Fogerty suffered complaints over his steadfast refusal to play Creedence songs live and suffered with recurring vocal problems which he blamed on having to testify in court. Fogerty's explanation for not playing Creedence Clearwater Revival songs was that he would have had to pay performance royalties to copyright holder Saul Zaentz—and that it was "too painful" to revisit the music of his past.
With the Centerfield album, Fogerty also found himself entangled in new, tit-for-tat lawsuits with Zaentz over the song "The Old Man Down the Road" which was, according to Zaentz, a blatant re-write of Fogerty's own 1970 Creedence hit "Run Through the Jungle." Since Fogerty had traded his rights to Creedence's songs in 1980 to cancel his remaining contractual obligations, Fantasy now owned the rights to "Run Through the Jungle" and sued Fogerty essentially for plagiarizing himself. While a jury ruled in Fogerty's favor, he did settle a defamation suit filed by Zaentz over the songs "Mr. Greed" and "Zanz Kant Danz." Fogerty was forced to edit the recording, changing the "Zanz" reference to "Vanz."
On February 19, 1987, at the Palomino Club in Los Angeles, Fogerty broke his self-imposed 1972 ban on performing his Creedence Clearwater Revival hits, on an admonition from Bob Dylan and George Harrison (who both joined him onstage) that "if you don't, the whole world's gonna think 'Proud Mary' is Tina Turner's song." At a Fourth of July benefit for Vietnam veterans in 1987, Fogerty finally ran through the list of Creedence hits—beginning with "Born on the Bayou" and ending with "Proud Mary"—to an ecstatic audience. He retreated from music again in the late 1980s but returned in 1997 with the Grammy-winning Blue Moon Swamp. John Fogerty still tours frequently and plays Creedence Clearwater Revival tunes alongside material from his newer albums.
Tom Fogerty 
Tom Fogerty released several solo albums, though none reached the success of Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Tom's 1974 solo album Zephyr National was the last to feature the four original band members. A few of the songs sound very much in the Creedence style, particularly the aptly titled "Joyful Resurrection" on which all four members played, even though John Fogerty recorded his part to the mix separately.
In September 1990, Tom Fogerty died of an AIDS complication, which he contracted via a tainted blood transfusion he received while undergoing back surgery.
Stu Cook and Doug Clifford 
Junior high buddies Doug Clifford and Stu Cook continued to work together following the demise of Creedence Clearwater Revival both as session players and members of the Don Harrison Band. They also founded Factory Productions, a mobile recording service in the Bay Area. Clifford released a solo record, Cosmo, in 1972. Cook produced artist Roky Erickson's The Evil One and was bassist with the popular country act Southern Pacific in the 80s.
Doug Clifford also produced "Groovers Paradise" for former Sir Douglas Quintet and Texas Tornados frontman Doug Sahm. Both Clifford and Stu Cook played on the album which was released on Warner Bros. in 1974.
Following a relatively lengthy period of musical inactivity, the two formed Creedence Clearwater Revisited in 1995 with several well-known musicians. Revisited toured globally performing the original band's classics. John Fogerty's 1997 injunction forced 'CCRev' to change to 'Cosmo's Factory,' but the courts later ruled in Cook's and Clifford's favor.
Fantasy Records 
After Creedence, Fantasy Records released several greatest-hits packages and curiosities such as 1975's Pre-Creedence, a compilation album of The Golliwogs' early recordings. Fantasy also released the highly successful Chronicle, Vol. 1, a collection of Creedence's twenty hit singles, in 1976. Several years later, the label released a live recording entitled The Royal Albert Hall Concert. Contrary to its title, the 1970 performance was recorded in Oakland, California, not at the Royal Albert Hall in London, England. Subsequent issues of the original 1981 album have been retitled simply The Concert.
The success of Creedence Clearwater Revival made Fantasy and Saul Zaentz a great deal of money. Indeed, Fantasy built a new headquarters building in 1971 at 2600 Tenth Street in Berkeley, California. Zaentz also used his wealth to produce a number of successful films including Best Picture Oscar winners One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, and The English Patient. In 2004, he sold Fantasy to Concord Records. As a goodwill gesture, Concord honored the unfulfilled contractual promises Fantasy made nearly forty years earlier, finally paying the band a higher royalty rate on their sales.
One decision made by John Fogerty rankled his bandmates and would leave all of them without most of their hard-earned money and facing legal and financial problems for years. Without the other three band members' knowledge, Fogerty agreed to a tax shelter scheme proposed by Saul Zaentz and his lawyers in which most of the bandmembers' assets were transferred to Castle Bank & Trust of Nassau, Bahamas. Zaentz and his associates withdrew their assets before the bank eventually dissolved — along with the savings of the four Creedence Clearwater Revival band members. A series of lawsuits began in 1978 and eventually ended with a California court awarding $8.6 million to the band members in April 1983. Despite this legal victory, very little of the money was recovered.
John Fogerty, seeing that Zaentz was no longer involved with the company, also signed a new contract with Concord/Fantasy. In 2005, the label released The Long Road Home, a collection of Creedence and Fogerty solo classics. After Revival came out on the Fantasy label in October, 2007 but before his following album Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again was issued in 2009, Fogerty switched from Fantasy to Verve Forecast Records.
Attempts at reuniting 
The original Creedence lineup rarely reunited after their breakup, and never professionally. All four members jammed together at Tom Fogerty's wedding on October 19, 1980. John Fogerty, Cook, and Clifford played at their 20th El Cerrito High School reunion in 1983, but they performed as their original incarnation, The Blue Velvets. In the 1980s and 90s, new rounds of lawsuits between the band members, as well as against their former management, deepened their animosities. By the time Creedence Clearwater Revival was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, John Fogerty refused to perform with his surviving bandmates Stu Cook and Doug Clifford. The pair were barred from the stage, while Fogerty played with an all-star band that included Bruce Springsteen and Robbie Robertson. Tom Fogerty's widow Tricia had expected a Creedence reunion, and even brought the urn containing her husband's ashes to the ceremony. Cook and Clifford formed Creedence Clearwater Revisited, a partial reunion group with additional musicians, two years later.
In a July 2011 interview with the Calgary Herald, John Fogerty, for the first time in over 20 years, admitted that he would at least be willing to consider reuniting with Cook and Clifford. "Years ago, I looked at people and I was so full of some sort of emotion and I'd say, 'Absolutely not!' ... But I have to admit, people have asked me more recently, and even though I have no idea how such a series of events would come to pass, I can tell that there isn't the bombast in my voice, in the denial, in the refusal. It's more like, 'Well, I dunno.' Never say never is I guess is what people tell you. In this life, all kinds of strange things come to pass," Fogerty said. "Realizing that it doesn't really kick up a big firestorm of emotion, it kind of suggests that at least if someone started talking I'd sit still long enough to listen." When asked about a potential reunion again in October 2011, Fogerty said: "I'm saying it's possible, yeah. I think the call [laughs] would maybe have to come from outside the realm. Somebody would have to get me to look at things in a fresh way."
However, Cook and Clifford both stated in the February 2012 edition of Uncut Magazine that they aren't interested in a CCR reunion. "Leopards don't change their spots. This is just an image-polishing exercise by John. My phone certainly hasn't rung," Cook said. Added Clifford: "It might have been a nice idea 20 years ago, but it's too late."
Legal rights to music 
Creedence Clearwater Revival's catalogue of songs has frequently been used or referenced in popular culture. In part this is because John Fogerty "long ago signed away legal control of his old recordings to Creedence's record label, Fantasy Records." Fogerty objected to what he regarded as a misuse of his music in an NPR interview:
Folks will remember Forrest Gump and that was a great movie, but they don't remember all the really poor movies that Fantasy Records stuck Creedence music into: car commercials, tire commercials. I'm remembering a paint thinner ad at one point, the song "Who'll Stop the Rain". Oh, boy. That's clever, isn't it?
Of particular interest was the use of his protest song "Fortunate Son" in a blue jean commercial. In this case, the advertiser eventually stopped using the song, as Fogerty related in a later interview:
Yes, the people that owned Fantasy Records also owned all my early songs, and they would do all kinds of stuff I really hated in a commercial way with my songs. ... Then one day somebody from the L.A. Times actually bothered to call me up and ask me how I felt, and I finally had a chance to talk about it. And I said I'm very much against my song being used to sell pants. ... So my position got stated very well in the newspaper, and lo and behold, Wrangler to their credit said, "Wow, even though we made our agreement with the publisher, the owner of the song, we can see now that John Fogerty really hates the idea," so they stopped doing it.
- Creedence Clearwater Revival (1968)
- Bayou Country (1969)
- Green River (1969)
- Willy and the Poor Boys (1969)
- Cosmo's Factory (1970)
- Pendulum (1970)
- Mardi Gras (1972)
|1967– February 1971|
See also 
- Creedence Clearwater Revisited
- John Fogerty discography
- BlueVelvets/Golliwogs discographies
- Kalamazoo, Michigan
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