Creedence Clearwater Revival
Creedence Clearwater Revival (usually abbreviated as CCR), consisted of John Fogerty (guitar/songwriter/vocals), brother Tom Fogerty (guitar), Stu Cook (bass) and Doug Clifford (drums). Their musical style encompassed the roots rock, self-titled swamp rock, and blues rock genres. Despite their San Francisco Bay Area origins, they portrayed a Southern rock style, with lyrics about bayous, catfish, the Mississippi River, and other popular elements of Southern US iconography, as well as political and socially-conscious lyrics about topics including the Vietnam War.
Originally calling themselves The Blue Velvets, the trio began playing instrumentals and "juke box standards", as well as backing Fogerty's older brother Tom at live gigs and in the recording studio. Tom soon joined the band, and in 1964 they signed with 'Fantasy Records', an independent jazz label in San Francisco.
For the band's first release, 'Fantasy' co-owner Max Weiss renamed the group the Golliwogs (after the children's literary character, Golliwogg).
In 1966, the group suffered a setback when John Fogerty and Doug Clifford, having received draft notices, enlisted in the military.
In 1967, Saul Zaentz bought 'Fantasy Records' and offered the band a chance to record a full-length album on the condition that they change their name because he disliked the name, "the Golliwogs," in part because of the racial charge of the name. "Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR)" was the name settled on in January, 1968. The name came from three sources:
- Tom Fogerty's friend Credence Newball, whose name they changed to form the word Creedence.
- A television commercial for Olympia beer ("clear water").
- The renewed commitment to the band.
The next album, Bayou Country (1969), went platinum in saled and reached 7 on the Billboard Chart. The single Proud Mary, backed with Born on the Bayou, reached No. 2; Proud Mary being repeated in some 100 cover versions by other artists to date, including a hit version in 1971 by Ike & Tina Turner.
March 1969 saw the single for Bad Moon Rising released and achieving 2. In the UK it spent 3 weeks on the singles chart and would prove the be the band's only number 1 in that country.
The band's third album, Green River, followed in August 1969 and went gold along with the single Green River.
CCR continued to tour with performances at the Atlanta Pop Festival and Woodstock.
Willy and the Poor Boys (1969) featured the hits Down on the Corner and Fortunate Son who climbed to No. 3 and No. 14, respectively, by the year end. The album also featured two reworked Lead Belly covers, Cotton Fields and Midnight Special.
On November 16, 1969, they performed Fortunate Son and Down on the Corner on The Ed Sullivan Show.
CCR released another two-sided hit, Travelin' Band/Who'll Stop the Rain in January 1970. Only Elvis Presley and The Beatles had more success with two sided hit singles up to that point in time. However, Travelin' Band, however, boasted enough similarity to Little Richard's Good Golly, Miss Molly that the song's publisher sued; it was eventually settled out of court.
Cosmo's Factory (1970), along with the band's fifth and final No. 2 national hit singles, Lookin' Out My Back Door/Long As I Can See the Light. Their five No. 2 singles were exceeded only by Elvis Presley and Madonna with six 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 . The album overall went to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 charts and 11 on Billboard's Soul Albums chart.
By Cosmo Factory Fogerty had taken complete control of the group in business and artistic output; the rest of the band were not amused.
Pendulum (1970), was another top seller, with the Top 10, Have You Ever Seen the Rain?.
Tom Fogerty decided he had had enough of his younger brother and resigned from CCR in late 1970; leaving the band to continue as a trio. But not long after his brother, John, also turned against the band by stating each member would now write and perform his own material, with himself contributing only rhythm guitar to his band mates' songs. Cook and Clifford were not happy with this, despite the demands for more input. Fogerty insisted they accept the new arrangement, or he would quit the band. The Top 10 single Sweet Hitch-Hiker followed in July 1971, backed with Stu Cook's own Door to Door; a tour followed.
The band's final album, Mardi Gras (1972) was a relative flop in comparison to the past albums, with Rolling Stone reviewer Jon Landau deeming it, "the worst album I have ever heard from a major rock band." The album made it to number 12.
Fogerty and his remaining band mates were on opposing teams as to the act's future at this point. Add to this, both Fogerty and Cook were unhappy with the record label's new contract; Fogerty blaming the label's owner, while Cook (who held a business degree) blamed Fogerty for said deal. Despite a 20 date US tour, six months later, on October 16, 1972, the band called it quits. Cook and Clifford eventually started the band Creedence Clearwater Revisited in 1995.
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 CCR contract, however, he owed 'Fantasy' eight more records. In the end, he refused to work for the label. The impasse was resolved when 'Asylum Records'' David Geffen bought the contract for $1 million US.
With his first album, 1985's Centerfield, Fogerty found himself entangled in new lawsuit 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 CCR hit Run Through the Jungle. Since Fogerty had traded his rights to CCR's songs in 1980 to cancel his remaining contractual obligations, 'Fantasy' now owned the rights to the song and sued Fogerty for... well... err.. plagiarizing himself! During the sensational trial, Fogerty performed the two songs live in the courtroom to show how they differed. The copyright laws are very well written and exacting and the jury figured the two songs differed enough and ruled in Fogerty's favor. To settle a second suit, a defamation suit, filed by Zaentz over the songs: Mr. Greed and Zanz Kant Danz, however, Fogerty was forced to edit the recording, changing the "Zanz" reference to "Vanz."
It is important to note that during this time also, Fogerty flatly refused to perform his former CCR songs at live shows because he could not stand for the idea of paying Mr. Zaentz one penny in performance royalties!
Tom Fogerty, for his part, released several solo albums, though none reached the success of CCR. He died of an AIDS complication in September 1990; contracted via a tainted blood transfusion he received while undergoing back surgery. He and his brother never reconciled before his death.
Zaentz became a very wealthy man and lived the lifestyle of the rich and famous, at least in large part from the efforts of CCR. Then, in 2004, he sold 'Fantasy' to 'Concord Records'. As a goodwill gesture, 'Concord' honored the unfulfilled contractual promises 'Fantasy' made by finally paying the band a higher royalty rate on their sales.
A higher royalty rate finally came... today... But, a decision made by John Fogerty way back when... would leave all the band members without most of their original money and saddled with legal and financial problems for years. Without the other three band members' knowledge, back in the 1970s, Fogerty agreed to a tax shelter scheme proposed by Mr. Zaentz and his lawyers in which most of the band members' assets were transferred to Castle Bank & Trust of Nassau, Bahamas. Before the band could blink, Zaentz and his associates withdrew their assets, along with those of the band, just before the bank collapsed; the money then disappeared. In 1978, a series of lawsuits began and eventually ended with a California court awarding $8.6 million to the band members in April 1983. The victory was ceremonial because very little money was ever recovered.
CCR was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
Despite a few selected performances together, the band members continue with their animosities and lawsuits amongst themselves and former managers to this day.