Creedence Clearwater Revival

CCRFrom: El Cerrito, CA, USA

Creedence Clearwater Revival was an American rock band from the late 1960s and early 1970s. The band was made up by John Fogerty (vocals, guitar), Tom Fogerty (rhythm guitar), Stu Cook (bass), and Doug Clifford (drums). CCR encompassed elements of roots rock and swamp rock to create a unique sound. Despite being from the San Francisco Bay area, Creedence Clearwater Revival portrayed a Southern rock sound, often writing about bayous, catfish, the Mississippi River, and other popular elements of the Southern American lifestyle.

The band is still considered a staple of American radio airplay; they have sold 26 million albums in the United States alone. In 1993, CCR was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, and Rolling Stone magazine ranked the band 82nd on its list of the 100 greatest artists of all time. Their influence can be heard in many genres, including southern rock, grunge, roots rocks, and blues.

John Fogerty, Clifford, and Cook all met at Portola Junior High School in El Cerrito, California, and began playing instruments and “juke box standards” under the moniker The Blue Velvets. The band also backed up singer Tom Fogerty at live gigs and in the studio. Tom soon joined the band, and in 1964 they signed with Fantasy Records. For their debut release, Fantasy co-owner Max Weiss renamed the band The Golliwogs, because there was apparently a wave of popular British bands under similar names. It was during this period that the roles of the band members changed. Cook switched from piano to bass and Tom Fogerty from lead vocals to rhythm guitar. John became the band’s new lead vocalist and primary songwriter. According to Tom: “I could sing, but John had a sound!”

There was a minor setback in 1966 when both John and Clifford were drafted into military service. John enlisted in the Army Reserve and Clifford in the United States Coast Guard Reserve. In 1967, Fantasy Records was purchased by Saul Zaentz. Zaentz offered the band a chance to record a full-length album under the condition that they changed their name. Having never liking The Golliwogs, in part because of the racial charge of the name, the band agreed. It was agreed that everyone would come up with 10 suggestions each, but Zaentz enthusiastically agreed to their first suggestion, Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR), which they took in January 1968. The name Creedence Clearwater Revival came from the following elements:

  • Tom Fogerty’s friend Credence Newball, whose name they changed to form the word Creedence
  • A television commercial for Olympia Beer (Clearwater)
  • The four members’ renewed commitment to the band

By 1968, Fogerty and Clifford were discharged from their military service, and all four members quit their jobs to begin rehearsing and playing live. AM radio programmers took notice of the band hen the song “Suzie Q” from their self-titled debut album received substantial airplay in San Francisco and Chicago. “Suzie Q” was a remake of a 1956 song by rockabilly singer Dale Hawkins, and was CCR’s second single – their debut single reached #11, and would be the band’s only Top 40 hit not written by John. Two more singles were released from the debut album: a cover of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put A Spell On You” (#58) and “Porterville,” written during Fogerty’s time in the Army Reserve.

After their breakthrough, Creedence Clearwater Revival began touring and started working on their followup album, Bayou Country, at RCA Studios in Los Angeles. The album was released in 1969 and reached #7 on the charts. This platinum-selling record was the band’s first in a string of hit albums and singles that continued uninterrupted for three years. The single “Proud Mary” / “Born On A Bayou” reached #2 on the national Billboard chart. “Proud Mary” has become the band’s most-covered song, with around 100 cover versions by other artists to date, including a hit version by Ike & Tina Turner in 1971. John Fogerty cites the song as being the result of high spirits on gaining his discharge from the Army. Other standouts on the album include CCR’s cover of “Good Golly Miss Molly,” and their nine-minute live-show closer “Keep On Chooglin’.”

Just weeks after the success of Bayou Country, CCR released the sing;e “Bad Moon Rising” / “Lodi,” which peaked at #2. “Bad Moon Rising” spent three weeks at #1 in the United Kingdom on the UK Singles chart during September and October 1969, becoming Creedence Clearwater Revival’s only #1 in the UK. In August of 1969, CCR released their third album, Green River. The album went gold, as did the single “Green River,” again reaching #2 on the Billboard charts. The B-side, “Commotion,” peaked at #30 and the band’s emphasis on remakes of their old favourites continued with “Night Time Is The Right Time.”

Creedence Clearwater Revival continued to tour intensively, including performances at the Atlanta Pop Festival and Woodstock. Their set was not included in the Woodstock film or soundtrack, because John Fogerty felt the band’s performance was subpar, however, several tracks from the event were eventually included in the 1994 commemorative box set. Cook disagreed with this notion, stating that “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.” John later complained that the previous band, The Grateful Dead, put the crowed to sleep. John scanned the audience and saw a “Dante scene, just bodies from hell, all intertwined and asleep, covered in mud.”

After Woodstock, CCR was busy working on their fourth album, Willy And The Poor Boys, released in November 1969. “Down On The Corner” and “Fortunate Son” reached #3 and #14 respectively by the end of the year. The album was the band in standard form, featuring Fogerty originals and two reworked Lead Belly covers, “Cotton Fields” and “Midnight Special.” Both 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.

1969 was a remarkable year for Creedence Clearwater Revival. The band had three Top Ten albums, four hit singles (charting at #2, #2, #2, and #3), and three charting B-sides. On November 16, 1969, CCR performed “Fortunate Son” and “Down On The Corner” on The Ed Sullivan Show.

In January 1970, CCR released yet another two-sided hit, “Travelin’ Band” / “Who’ll Stop The Rain.” Other than Elvis Presley and The Beatles, CCR had more success with two-sided singles than any band up to that point in time. John Fogerty has said that “Who’ll Stop The Rain” was inspired by the band’s experience at Woodstock. The band was faced with a lawsuit by the publisher of “Good Golly Miss Molly,” as it was felt “Travelin’ Band” bore enough similarities. The ordeal was eventually settled in court and the song eventually topped out at #2. CCR also recorded their performance at the Oakland Coliseum Arena on January 31, 1970, which was later marketed as a live album and television special.

The band was set to begin its first European tour in April 1970. Fogerty wrote the single “Up Around The Bend” / “Run Through The Jungle” to help support the upcoming tour. The single reached #4 that spring. After the tour, the band returned to Wally Heider’s San Francisco studio in June to record their next album, Cosmo’s Factory. The album title was an inside joke about the band’s various rehearsal facilities and factory work ethic over the years. The album contained the earlier hits “Travelin’ Band,” “Who’ll Stop The Rain,” “Up Around The Bend,” and “Run Through The Jungle,” as well as popular album tracks such as “Ramble Tamble.” CCR’s eleven-minute rendition of the 1968 Marvin Gaye hit “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” became a minor hit when an edited version was released as a single in 1976. The album also features a nearly note-for-note homage to Roy Orbison’s “Ooby Dooby.” Cosmo’s Factory was Creedence Clearwater Revival’s best seller and went to #1 on the Billboard 200 album charts and #11 on Billboard’s Soul Albums chart.

Cosmos’s Factory was released in July 1970, as was CCR’s fifth and final #2 national hit, “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” / “Long As I Can See The Light.” Although the band topped some international charts and local radio countdowns , Creedence Clearwater Revival never had a #1 Billboard Hot 100 hit. Only Elvis Presley and Madonna exceeded CCR’s five #2’s with six each. CCR tied with The Carpenters. CCR is also unique for having the most #2 singles on the Billboard charts without ever having a #1.

Tension amongst the band started to show during the sessions for Cosmo’s Factory, along with the incessant touring and heavy recording schedules. Things began to unravel. John Fogerty had taken total control of the band, both in business and artistic output. The other three members of the band were growing tired of having no say, but John resisted, feeling that a democratic approach to handling things would take away from the band’s success. Another issue amongst the band was Fogerty’s decision at a 1970 Nebraska gig that the band would no longer give encores at live shows.

In December 1970, CCR released their next album, Pendulum. The album was another top seller, and featured another Top 10 hit in “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?” Fogerty included Hammond B3 Organ on a number of songs on Pendulum, including “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?,” in recognition of the deep respect and influence of  Booker T. & The M.G.’s. The B-side, “Hey Tonight,” was also a hit.

Deciding that he had had enough of his younger brother, Tom Fogerty left the band in late 1970 during the recording of Pendulum. His departure was made public the following February. Initially, the remaining members considered replacing Tom, but decided in the end to continue as a trio.

In the spring of 1971, John Fogerty informed Cook and Clifford that CCR would continue as a band, only if things were done democratically. Each member would write and perform his own material. Fogerty stated that he would also only contribute rhythm guitar to his bandmates’ songs. Cook and Clifford resisted this arrangement, but Fogerty insisted they accept, threatening to quit the band. Despite their dissension, the band put its new work ethic to the test in the studio, releasing the Top 10 single “Sweet Hitch-Hiker” in July 1971. The song was backed with Cook’s “Door To Door.” CCR toured the US and Europe that summer and autumn, with Cook’s song being a part of the set. In spite of their commercial success, tensions within the band were becoming increasingly strained.

April 1972 saw the release of CCR’s final album, Mardi Gras. The album featured songs written by Fogerty, Cook, and Clifford, as well as a cover of “Hello Mary Lou,” as song written by Gene Pitney originally wrote for Ricky Nelson. The album was a critical failure. Rolling Stone reviewer Jon Landau deemed the album “the word album I have ever heard from a major rock band.” Mardi Gras’ sales were weaker than previous Creedence albums, peaking at #12. Fogerty’s “Someday Never Comes,” backed by Clifford’s “Tearin’ Up The Country” cracked the US Top 40.

At this point in time, John Fogerty was at total odds with the rest of the band, and CCR’s relationship with Fantasy Records became onerous. Fogerty felt that Saul Zaentz had reneged on his promise to give the band a better contract. Cook, who had a degree in business, claimed that because of Fogerty’s bad judgement, CCR had to abide by the worst record deal of any major American recording artist. Despite Mardi Gras not being overly successful, and the tension between the band at an all-time high, CCR decided to embark on a two-month, 20-date US tour. On October 16, 1972, Fantasy Records and the band officially announced that Creedence Clearwater Revival was disbanding. The band never formally reunited, however Cook and Clifford eventually started the band Creedence Clearwater Revisited.

In a 1997 interview with a Swedish magazine, Fogerty commented on the demise of CCR:

“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.”

John Fogerty began his solo career in 973. The Blue Ridge Rangers was his one-man band collection of country and gospel songs. Under his old contract, Fogerty still owed Fantasy eight more records. In the end, Fogerty refused to work for the label. Things were resolved only when Asylum Records’ David Geffin bought Fogerty’s contract for $1,000,000. His next major hit was Centerfield which topped the charts in 1985. On his 1986 tour, Fogerty received a lot of flak for his refusal to play any CCR songs, and suffered with recurring vocal problems which he blamed on having to testify in court.

Tom Fogerty released a number of solo albums, though none reached the success of CCR. Fogerty died of an AIDS complication in September 1990, which he contracted via a tainted blood transfusion he received while undergoing back surgery. Tom and John were never able to reconcile before Tom’s death, and in the eulogy he delivered at Tom’s funeral, John said, “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.”

Cook and Clifford continued to work together following the demise of CCR, both as session players and members of the Don Harrison Band. The two also founded Factory Productions, a mobile recording service in the Bay Area. Clifford released the solo album Cosmo in 1972. Cook produced Rocky Erickson’s The Evil One and was bassist with the popular country act Southern Pacific in the 1980s. The two also formed Creedence Clearwater Revisited.

Artist information: Wikipedia

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Tracks played on Psychedelicized…

From the 1968 album Creedence Clearwater Revival
Creedence Clearwater Revival

  • Porterville
  • Suzie Q

From the 1969 album Bayou Country
Bayou Country

  • Born On The Bayou
  • Proud Mary

From the 1969 album Green River
Green River

  • Bad Moon Rising
  • Green River
  • Lodi

From the 1969 album Willy And The Poor Boys
Willy And The Poor Boys

  • Down On The Corner
  • Fortunate Son
  • The Midnight Special

From the 1970 album Cosmo’s Factory
Cosmo's Factory

  • Lookin’ Out My Back Door
  • Ramble Tamble
  • Run Through The Jungle
  • Up Around The Bend
  • Who’ll Stop The Rain

From the 1970 album Pendulum
Pendulum

  • Have You Ever Seen The Rain?
  • Hey Tonight
  • It’s Just A Thought

From the 1972 album Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras

  • Someday Never Comes