Although their music evoked the raw, gospel-tinged sound of the rural South, Doug Clifford, Stu Cook, and brothers Tom and John Fogerty actually hailed from El Cerrito, California, a small town near Berkeley. Back in 1960, while in junior high school, the boys formed a band called "Tommy Fogerty & the Blue Velvets" and spent much of their time practicing in the Fogerty's garage. Four years later, they auditioned for Fantasy Records where John Fogerty had been a warehouse employee.
Unbeknownst to them, the "Blue Velvets" had their name changed by a label executive to the "Golliwogs" - a more English-sounding handle during those heady days of the British Invasion. As the Golliwogs, they recorded seven singles for Fantasy that went largely unheard by the general public. Finally, the label re-released the last of the Golliwog singles, "Porterville," under a new name of the band's own choosing: "Creedence Clearwater Revival". Creedence was taken from the name of a friend; Clearwater was lifted from a beer commercial; Revival was added to show that the band felt they now had new life.
After a couple of years on the central California club circuit, things began to happen very quickly. The 1967 release of the band's debut album, Creedence Clearwater Revival paralleled the flowering of the San Francisco music scene, but the Creedence phenomenon had little in common with the "San Francisco Sound."
With John Fogerty now firmly at the helm as guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer, Creedence took off with their neo-psychedelic reworking of Dale Hawkins' rockabilly classic "Suzie Q." From then on, the hits kept coming as the band churned out six albums of powerful, roots-oriented rock and roll between 1968 and 1970: "Creedence Clearwater Revival", "Bayou Country", "Green River", "Willie and the Poorboys", "Cosmo's Factory" and "Pendulum". Ten of Creedence's singles cracked the Top Ten during the period 1968-71.
Not everything went their way however. During the Woodstock concert in 1969, CCR didn't take the stage until three in the morning, following the Grateful Dead. After the show, they were so unhappy with their performance that they forbade the use of it in the Woodstock motion picture and anything promoting the movie. They didn't want their performance on the album, either, and Fantasy Records sealed the deal by not agreeing on royalties, which made sure they were not included on the album.
Although the group was not overtly political, several of their songs, particularly "Fortunate Son" and "Who'll Stop the Rain", eloquently expressed the counterculture's resistance to the Vietnam War and sympathy for those who were fighting in what now stand as anthems of those troubled times.
By 1970, CCR had undeniably become the number one American rock and roll attraction. The man responsible for their exalted position was John Fogerty. In addition to writing the band's material and producing their records, John sang with a powerful, raw-edged voice that was the Creedence sound. The same genius responsible for Creedence's tremendous popularity, however, also contributed to their eventual demise. Tensions arose among the other group members as they vied for greater say in band decisions which had, till then, been made exclusively by John. An agreement for more democratic decision-making was reached, but came too late for Tom Fogarty.
In February 1971, Tom, fed up with the dominance of his younger brother John, announced his departure from the band to work as a solo artist. The remaining group continued to work as a trio. The first single of reorganized CCR, "Sweet Hitchhiker" came out in July. The band's major tour of the U.S., Europe, Australia and Japan began in July and met with a reasonably good reception.
On their seventh and last studio album, "Mardi Gras", Stu Cook and Doug Clifford wrote two thirds of the album's songs. The disc reached #12 on the US album chart, mostly because of the band's reputation rather than the content. In October 1972, Creedence Clearwater Revival was officially disbanded.
Tom Fogerty continued his solo career without major commercial success. He initially participated in an informal group which included guitarist Jerry Garcia and organist Merle Saunders, before forming a new band,called "Ruby", around Randy Oda (guitar/keyboards), Anthony Davis (bass) and Bobby Cochran (drums). The group recorded three albums, the last of which was preceded by Tom's final solo set, "Deal It Out". Fogerty moved to Flagstaff, Arizona during the mid 80's. He died of AIDS on September 6th, 1990.
In 1972, John Fogerty began a solo project in which he recorded all the instruments and vocals under the pseudonym "Blue Ridge Rangers", with the material comprised of country and gospel. It provided two hit singles in 1973: remakes of Hank Williams' country "Jambalaya" and Otis Williams and the Charms' doowop hit, "Hearts of Stone".
Before the year was out, John had become upset about many aspects of his affiliation with Fantasy Records. He charged that the company hadn't promoted his solo album properly and had other objections about matters such as distribution and royalties. He demanded a release from his contract, but Fantasy had the rights for eight more albums from him. He refused to record new material and things remained unsolved until David Geffen and Asylum Records worked out a reported $1 million deal with Fantasy allowing Fogerty to record on Asylum with Fantasy retaining overseas rights while Asylum had US and Canadian rights. That did not void other legal battles, including one Fogerty and his old band mates eventually filed against their accounting firm, claiming it had not properly protected their investments.
Fogerty then went back into the studios and turned out a new solo album, "John Fogerty", that was a critically acclaimed work but a commercial failure. Among its tracks were such classic songs as "Rockin' All Over The World" and "Almost Saturday Night". However, the psychological trauma of continued legal skirmishing caught up with Fogerty and his efforts to assemble new material for a follow-up album were so far below his standards that Asylum cautioned against releasing them. The prospective third album,"Hoodoo", was never issued. Fogerty decided it would be best to wait until his legal problems were resolved before trying to pick up his career full-tilt again.
It turned out to be a long wait, a hiatus that took almost a decade. In 1984, Fogerty began working up tracks for his comeback album, issued by Warner Brothers at the beginning of 1985. The album proved a sensation with both critics and record buyers. It provided two hit singles, "Center Field" and "Rock and Roll Girl," while the album itself became a #1 chart hit in the US.
The LP also included the hard-driving rocker "Mr. Greed" and the experimental "Zantz Kan't Danz" which seemed to be personal attacks against Saul Zaentz, head of Fantasy Records. Zaentz responded with a $142 million lawsuit claiming he had been slandered in "Centerfield" and in the statements Fogerty had made in interviews. Fantasy also filed another suit claiming it was entitled to profits from the single "The Old Man Down The Road," stating the piece plagiarised a song Fogerty wrote for Creedence, "Run Through The Jungle". In 1995 Fogerty emerged victorious.
In September 1986, Fogerty launched a second Warner Brothers album, "Eye Of The Zombie", which failed to scale the heights of its predecessor. He also set out on his first US tour in 14 years, but refused to include any Creedence songs in the set list.
In the late 80's, Fogerty maintained a lower profile. The highlight of the era was his performance on the concert for Vietnam veterans in 1987, in which he did Creedence songs on stage for the first time since 1972.
In a clear, public showing of their animosity for each other, John Fogerty refused to play with Cook and Clifford when CCR was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. Instead, he chose to perform with the house band and his former band mates were left out of the live show completely.
Fogerty returned in 1997 with a release of his fifth solo album, the Grammy winning and critically acclaimed "Blue Moon Swamp". It was followed by a tour of the U.S. and Scandinavia, several appearances in the media and finally a live album.
The rhythm section of the group, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford, followed pursuits independently and together in The Don Harrison Band, Southern Pacific and The Sir Douglas Quintet. In 1995, they comprised a band called "Creedence Clearwater Revisited". With three additional musicians, Elliot Easton, Steve Gunner and John Tristao, they toured the world and performed the songs of Creedence Clearwater Revival over Fogerty's strenuous objections. John's 1997 injunction forced Revisited to change to Cosmo's Factory, but the courts later ruled in Cook's and Clifford's favor. Perhaps John's best revenge came in 1998 when his LP, "Blue Moon Swamp" won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Album of the Year.
After years of bitterness, John signed a new contract with Concord / Fantasy Records and 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.
Chances of the remaining members of CCR ever reuniting appear slim at best. In a July 2011 interview with The Calgary Herald, John Fogerty 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 replied: "I'm saying it's possible, yeah. I think the call 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 emphatically stated in the February 2012 edition of Uncut Magazine that they have no interest 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. Clifford added, "It might have been a nice idea 20 years ago, but it's too late."
In April, 2012, John Fogerty announced an Autumn release for his latest album, "Wrote a Song for Everyone", which features contributions from Bob Seger, The Foo Fighters, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Alan Jackson and Miranda Lambert. In April, 2014, the song "Fortunate Son" was inducted into the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry.
December, 2014 had CCC back in the news again when another round of litigation was launched by Cook and Clifford against Fogerty over use of the band's name. In March of the following year, John announced that he would finally issue his autobiography, Fortunate Son: My Life, My Music, on October 6th, and that he would continue his world tour, 1969, which was slated to run from May 2nd to August 9th.
Creedence had an astonishing track record: eight consecutive gold singles;
Proud Mary - Jan. 1969
Bad Moon Rising - April 1969
Green River - July 1969
Down on the Corner / Fortunate Son - September 1969
Who'll Stop the Rain / Travlin' Band - Jan.1970
Up Around the Bend - April 1970
Lookin' Out My Back Door - June 1970
Have You Ever Seen the Rain? - Jan. 1971
and eight consecutive gold albums
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Willy and the Poor Boys
Be sure to read Gary James' interview with Doug Clifford