Creedence Clearwater Revival

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Despite the barrage of psychedelic music emerging from Berkeley, California in the late 60s, the brothers Fogerty stuck to what they did best – rock, country, and their own “swamp pop.” Their music resonated with teenagers and the working class alike, making Creedence Clearwater Revival one of the most popular bands of the era.

Tom Fogerty started a band called the Blue Velvets with two high school buddies from the area, Doug Clifford and Stu Cook, and when the rhythm section was intact, Tom’s younger brother John joined up too. The Velvets played their hearts out, in and around San Francisco.

In 1963, the band signed with Fantasy Records, whose brass convinced them to change their name to the Golliwogs because it sounded more British, and in those years, all things British were all the rage. John took over duties at the mic and most of the band’s songwriting as well. They dropped their campy anglophilic name and re-christened themselves Creedence Clearwater Revival.

After a hiatus from rehearsing when John and Doug were drafted for the Army, CCR got back together again and returned to the rock/country sound they had started out with. Though their first singles releases were nothing to write home about, their 1968 self-titled debut album was very write-homeable indeed.

The album featured such toe-tappers “Suzy Q” and “I Put a Spell on You,” and after this success, other remarkable singles followed-“Proud Mary,” most notably, a song that would be covered by the likes of Ike and Tina Turner, Elvis Presley and Leonard Nimoy in years to come.

When John Fogerty was growing up, his mother got him hooked on music from the South, and he became an avid fan of artists like Hank Williams, Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins and anyone on the old Sun Records label. To get through the tedium of his suburban childhood, he made up a whole Southern mythology in his head-names and places and characters and stories-even though he had never crossed the Mason-Dixon line. But much of CCR’s music would come incorporate this down-home sensibility and remnants of the young boy’s imaginary Southern world.

CCR played huge festivals in the late 60’s and early 70’s, culminating in a performance at Woodstock that Fogerty wouldn’t allow on the subsequent album or film. To him, the sound was faulty and the tone anti-climactic-in their late-night slot, they followed a very, very mellow Grateful Dead set.

Tom Fogerty, worn out by his brother’s bandleading tyranny and eager to spend more time with his family, left in 1971. When John loosened his grip on the control issues and allowed his rhythm section more say on 1972’s Mardi Gras, the resulting record emphatically bombed. That same year, CCR announced its break-up.

John’s first non-CCR bluegrass/country rock venture was called the Blue Ridge Rangers, and his self-titled debut solo album, on which he played all the instruments, came out in 1975. He would then quit the music business for years, spending time with his family on their Oregon farm. In 1984, Fogerty returned to the music scene, releasing his successful Centerfield and touring for the first time in fourteen years.

Tom Fogerty died of respiratory failure in 1990 after a long struggle with tuberculosis. Stu Cook and Doug Clifford started playing the old CCR hits on tour, in a band name Creedence Clearwater Revisited – much to Fogerty’s litigious dismay. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, and though Fogerty refused to play CCR tunes for many years, he is now known to dip his concert foot back into that Southern rock pool. The water’s too nice not to.

If you grew up listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival, we would love to hear all of your thoughts and memories of this iconic rock band in our comments section below.

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