Sometimes when I feel nostalgic and reminisce about driving my car as a youth, John Fogerty’s voice coming through the car’s speakers plays in my mind. For a couple of years, Creedence Clearwater Revival was one of my favorite bands. This was during the era of 8-Track tape cartridges, hippies, and Woodstock. CCR was a major player at the top of the “Billboard Magazine” Hot 100 Singles charts.
John Cameron Fogerty was born on May 28, 1945 in Berkeley, California the second son of Lucile and Galen Fogerty. He attended school at El Cerrito High School. Young John also took guitar lessons from Barry Oliver, the creator/producer of the Berkeley Folk Festival.
John’s first effort at a music career began with his big brother, Tom along with Stu Cook and Doug Clifford. In 1960, they formed the band “Tommy Fogerty and the Blue Velvets. They released three 45 rpm records in the 1960s: “Come On Baby”/”Oh My Love”, “Have You Ever Been Lonely”/”Bonita”, and “Now You’re Not Mine”/”Yes You Did”.
In 1964, the Blue Velvets signed a contract with San Francisco based Fantasy Records, where the elder brother had been employed as a shipping clerk. Fantasy renamed the group the “Golliwogs” and recorded a few singles. They had one minor hit, “Brown-Eyed Girl”, but the Golliwogs’ other records went nowhere.
In 1967, they again renamed themselves, this time, as “Creedence Clearwater Revival”. CCR’s self-titled debut album was an instant hit, the most noteworthy songs were “Susie Q” and “I Put A Spell On You” as the group’s first major hits. Their second LP, “Bayou Country” made CCR America’s most popular rock band in 1969. The double -sided hit single was “Proud Mary”/”Born On The Bayou”. CCR continued to dominate Top-40 radio airplay for the next couple of years. CCR was also featured entertainment at the Woodstock Festival.
Creedence’s public success fueled John’s growing ambitions, so he angled for greater name recognition and control over the band. Resentments built up among the band members. Festering sibling rivalry came to the surface, then Tom Fogerty dropped out of the band, in 1971. That year CCR recorded their album “Mardi Gras”. The album had disappointing sales results. In October of 1972, Creedence Clearwater Revival disbanded.
John Fogerty continued to pursue his own individual career. His debut solo album “Blue Ridge Rangers” was released in the spring of 1973. The record attracted attention because John played all the instruments. “Jambalaya (On The Bayou)”, and “Hearts of Stone” both by Hank Williams, became minor hits. John’s career nose-dived afterwards. He then went on hiatus for about a decade.
Meantime, big brother Tom, released some records of his own. He moved to Arizona during the 1980s. Tom contracted AIDS after a blood transfusion during surgery for a chronic back problem. He died on September 6, 1990 due to tuberculosis and complications related to the HIV infection.
In 1985, John Fogerty re-entered the charts with his anthem to baseball, “Centerfield”. The song sold more than 2,000,000 copies and remains a favorite among hardcore baseball fans. That song was followed by the lesser hits, “The Old Man Down The Road” and “Rock and Roll Girls”.
All this time, Fogerty refused to sing any of the old CCR songs during live concerts because of his bitterness following the breakup of the band. He had been forced to give up his artist’s royalties in order to get out of his contract with Fantasy Records. In 1995, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford reformed a band known as “Creedence Clearwater Revisited”. John won a temporary injunction halting use of that name. The new group eventually prevailed in the case and continued their concert tours.
1997 witnessed the release of John Fogerty’s “Blue Moon Swamp” album to basically positive reviews. The record won the award for “Best Rock Album” of 1997. Fogerty finally included some of his old CCR hits on his 2004 album “Deja Vu”. The old favorites claimed equal billing with some of his older solo material.
Fogerty continues with occasional recording sessions and commercial releases to this day. He is also working on an autobiography. Fogerty sometimes makes personal appearances at major events. His latest public cameo was during an NHL game, this past February between the L.A. Kings and the San Jose Sharks, in Santa Clara, California.