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The recording studio is open just a few more hours, then we can head out to a pub for some supper and a great discussion. In the meantime, one of my favorite clap-your-hands, stomp-your-feet groups just walked in the door! Say hello to…
Creedence Clearwater Revival, often referred to as simply Creedence or CCR, was an American rock band active in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.
The band consisted of lead vocalist, lead guitarist, and primary songwriter John Fogerty, his brother rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty, bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford. Their musical style encompassed the roots rock, swamp rock, and blues rock genres. (Never heard of Swamp Rock before. Anyone got an example? Opher?) Despite their San Francisco Bay Area origins, they played in a Southern rock style, with lyrics about bayous, catfish, the Mississippi River, and other popular elements of Southern United States iconography, as well as political and socially-conscious lyrics about topics including the Vietnam War. The band performed at the 1969 Woodstock Festival in Upstate New York.
After four years of chart-topping success, the group disbanded acrimoniously in late 1972. Tom Fogerty had officially left the previous year, and his brother John was at odds with the remaining members over matters of business and artistic control, all of which resulted in subsequent lawsuits between the former bandmates. Fogerty’s ongoing disagreements with Saul Zaentz, owner of their label Fantasy Records, created further protracted court battles. As a result, John Fogerty refused to perform with the two other surviving former members at CCR’s 1993 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Creedence Clearwater Revival’s music is still a staple of U.S. radio airplay; the band has sold 26 million albums in the United States alone. Rolling Stone ranked the band 82nd on its list of the 100 greatest artists of all time.
In 1966, the group suffered a setback when John Fogerty and Doug Clifford received draft notices and chose to enlist in the military instead to avoid conscription. Fogerty joined the Army Reserve while Clifford joined the Coast Guard Reserve.
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. Having never liked “the Golliwogs” (by which they were then known), in part because of the racial charge of the name, the four readily agreed. Zaentz and the band agreed to come up with ten suggestions each, but he enthusiastically agreed to their first: Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR), which they took in January, 1968. According to interviews with band members twenty years later, the name’s elements come from three sources:
Tom Fogerty’s friend Credence Newball, whose name they changed to form the word Creedence (as in creed); a television commercial for Olympia beer (“clear water”); and
the four members’ renewed commitment to their band. Rejected contenders for the band’s name included Muddy Rabbit, Gossamer Wump, and Creedence Nuball and the Ruby, but the last was the start that led to their finalized name. “Finally, John put together the three names and we surrendered to the inevitable,” Stu laugh[ed], “A name weirder than Buffalo Springfield or Jefferson Airplane.”
By 1968, John Fogerty and Doug Clifford had been discharged from military service, and all four members had quit their jobs to begin an intense schedule of rehearsing and playing full-time at clubs. AM radio programmers around the U.S.A. took note when their cover of the 1956 rockabilly song “Susie Q” from their self-titled debut album received substantial airplay in the San Francisco Bay Area and on Chicago’s WLS. It was the band’s second single—its first to reach the Top 40 (No. 11), and would be its only Top 40 hit not written by John Fogerty. Two other singles from the debut were released: a cover of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’s “I Put A Spell On You” (No. 58) and “Porterville” (released on the Scorpio label with writing credited to “T. Spicebush Swallowtail”), written during Fogerty’s time in the Army Reserve.
After their breakthrough, CCR began touring and started work on their second album, Bayou Country (1969), at RCA Studios in Los Angeles. A No. 7 platinum hit, the record was their first in a string of hit albums and singles that continued uninterrupted for three years. The single “Proud Mary”, backed with “Born On The Bayou”, reached No. 2 on the national Billboard chart. The former would eventually become the group’s most-covered song, with some 100 versions by other artists to date, including a 1971 hit by Ike & Tina Turner. (That one is my favorite version!) John Fogerty cites this song as being the result of high spirits on gaining his discharge from the Army Reserve. The album also featured a remake of the rock & roll classic “Good Golly, Miss Molly” and the band’s nine-minute live-show closer, “Keep On Chooglin”.
Weeks later, during March 1969, “Bad Moon Rising” backed with “Lodi” was released and peaked at No. 2. In the United Kingdom, “Bad Moon Rising” spent three weeks at number one on the UK Singles Chart during September and October 1969, becoming the band’s only number one single in the UK. (That’s so bizarre…) The band’s third album, Green River, followed in August 1969 and went gold along with the single “Green River”, which again reached No. 2 on the Billboard charts. The B-side of “Green River”, “Commotion”, peaked at No. 30 and the band’s emphasis on remakes of their old favorites continued with “Night Time Is The Right Time”.
CCR continued to tour incessantly with performances in July 1969 at the Atlanta Pop Festival and in August 1969 at the Woodstock Festival. Their set was not included in the Woodstock film or soundtrack because John Fogerty felt the band’s performance was subpar. Four tracks from the event (out of a total of eleven) were eventually included in the 1994 commemorative box set Woodstock: Three Days of Peace and Music. Stu Cook, however, held an opposing view, saying “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 Fogerty later complained the previous band, the Grateful Dead, put the audience to sleep; as John scanned the audience he saw a “Dante scene, just bodies from hell, all intertwined and asleep, covered with mud.”
After Woodstock, CCR was busy honing material for a fourth album, Willy and the Poor Boys, released in November 1969. “Down on the Corner” and “Fortunate Son” climbed to No. 3 and No. 14, respectively, by year’s end. The album was CCR in its standard form, featuring Fogerty originals and two reworked Lead Belly covers, “Cotton Fields” and “Midnight Special”. Both of the latter songs had also been performed by actor Harry Dean Stanton in the movie Cool Hand Luke.
The year 1969 had been a remarkable chart year for the band: three Top Ten albums, four hit singles (charting at No. 2, No. 2, No. 2, and No. 3) with three additional charting B-sides. 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. Except for Elvis Presley and The Beatles, Creedence had more success with two sided hit singles than any band up to that point in time. John Fogerty has said that the flip side was inspired by the band’s experience at Woodstock. The speedy “Travelin’ Band”, with a strong Little Richard sound, however, bore enough similarities to “Good Golly, Miss Molly” to warrant a lawsuit by the song’s publisher; it was eventually settled out of court. The song ultimately topped out at No. 2. The band also recorded its January 31, 1970, live performance at the Oakland Coliseum Arena, which would later be marketed as a live album and television special. In February, CCR was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone, although only John Fogerty was interviewed in the accompanying article.
In April 1970, CCR was set to begin its first European tour. To support the upcoming live dates, Fogerty wrote “Up Around the Bend” and “Run Through the Jungle”; the single reached No. 4 that spring. The band returned to Wally Heider’s San Francisco studio in June to record Cosmo’s Factory. The title was an in-joke about their various rehearsal facilities and factory work ethic over the years. (Drummer Doug Clifford’s longtime nickname is “Cosmo”, due to his keen interest in nature and all things cosmic.) The album contained the earlier Top 10 hits “Travelin’ Band” and “Up Around The Bend” plus popular album tracks such as the opener “Ramble Tamble”.
John Fogerty had taken complete control of the group in matters of both business and artistic output, to the chagrin of Tom Fogerty, Cook, and Clifford. Fogerty resisted, feeling that a “democratic” process would threaten their success. Other issues included Fogerty’s decision at a 1970 Nebraska gig that the band would no longer give encores at its live shows.Tom Fogerty decided he had had enough of his younger brother and resigned from CCR in late 1970 after the recording of Pendulum; his departure was made public the following February. At first, the remaining members considered replacing him but ultimately continued as a trio. He later stated on an Australian television broadcast that no new member could endure being in CCR.
In spring 1971, John Fogerty did an about-face and informed Cook and Clifford that CCR would continue only by adopting a “democratic” approach: each member would now write and perform his own material. Fogerty also would contribute only rhythm guitar to his bandmates’ songs. Cook and Clifford, who had wanted more input in CCR’s artistic and business decisions, resisted this arrangement. Fogerty insisted they accept it or he would quit the band. Despite the dissension, the trio put its new work ethic to the test in the studio, releasing the Top 10 single “Sweet Hitch-Hiker” in July 1971, backed with Stu Cook’s “Door To Door”. The band toured both the U.S. and Europe that summer and autumn, with Cook’s song a part of the live set. In spite of their continuing commercial success, however, relations among the three had become increasingly strained.
The band’s final album, Mardi Gras, was released in April 1972, featuring songs written by Fogerty, Cook, and Clifford and a cover of “Hello Mary Lou” (a song Gene Pitney had originally written for Ricky Nelson). The album was a critical failure, with Rolling Stone reviewer Jon Landau deeming it “the worst album I have ever heard from a major rock band.” The sales of Mardi Gras were weaker than previous albums, ultimately peaking at No. 12, though still became the band’s 7th consecutive studio album to be certified Gold. Fogerty’s “Someday Never Comes”, backed with Clifford’s “Tearin’ Up The Country”, also cracked the U.S. Top 40.
n 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, Fogerty owed Fantasy eight more records. In the end, he refused to work for the label. The impasse was resolved only when Asylum Records’ David Geffen bought Fogerty’s contract for $1,000,000. In 1975 he then released his only Asylum album, the self-titled John Fogerty. His next major hit was Centerfield, a chart-topping success in 1985. On tour in 1986, however, Fogerty suffered complaints over his steadfast refusal to perform CCR songs and suffered with recurring vocal problems which he blamed on having to testify in court. Fogerty’s explanation for not playing CCR material songs was that he would have had to pay performance royalties to copyright holder Saul Zaentz, and that it was “too painful” to revisit the music of his past.
On February 19, 1987, at the Palomino Club (North Hollywood) in Los Angeles, Fogerty broke his self-imposed 1972 ban on performing CCR hits. Bob Dylan and George Harrison had joined him onstage, admonishing “if you don’t, the whole world’s gonna think ‘Proud Mary’ is Tina Turner’s song.” At a 1987 Independence Day benefit concert for the Vietnam War veterans, Fogerty finally ran through the list of CCR hits, beginning with “Born on the Bayou” and ending with “Proud Mary”. In 1986 he also released his second Warner Bros. album Eye of the Zombie. He retreated from music again in the late 1980’s but returned in 1997 with the Grammy-winning Blue Moon Swamp. Fogerty still tours frequently and performs CCR classics alongside solo material.
Tom Fogerty released several solo albums, though none reached the success of CCR. Fogerty’s 1974 solo album Zephyr National was the last to feature the four original CCR band members. Several tracks sound very much like the CCR style, particularly the aptly titled “Joyful Resurrection” on which all four members played, even though John Fogerty recorded his part separately.
Tom Fogerty died at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona in September 1990 of an AIDS complication, which he contracted via a tainted blood transfusion he received while undergoing back surgery. Tom and John barely reconciled before Tom’s death, and in the eulogy that 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.”
“Up Around the Bend” was written by the band’s lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter John Fogerty. The song was composed and recorded only a few days prior to the band’s April 1970 European tour and was included on the album Cosmo’s Factory. Released as a single, with “Run Through the Jungle” on the flipside, the double-sided single climbed to number four on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the spring of 1970.
It was certified gold by the RIAA for sales of over one million copies. It was also a major hit in the UK, where it reached number three on the UK Singles Chart.
The song opens with a prominent, high-pitched guitar riff played by John Fogerty. The song’s lyrics have Fogerty telling of a gathering “up around the bend” on the highway and inviting the listener to join in.
The song has been covered by artists such as Elton John, who recorded a version of the song early in his career, and Finnish rock band Hanoi Rocks, who covered it on their 1984 album, Two Steps from the Move.
Picture Source: mondopop.net