John Fogerty, Doug Clifford, and Stu Cook met in junior high school, and soon backed John’s older brother Tom on some gigs. Eventually, they became a band, with Doug on drums, Stu – formerly on piano – switching to bass, and Tom on rhythm guitar, as John became “the band’s lead vocalist and primary songwriter.” In Tom Fogerty’s words: ‘I could sing, but John had a sound!'” That he did.
The group had a hit with their second single, a cover of Susie Q [LISTEN], in 1968, but then received massive success in 1969 and 1970, with five #2 hits, including three in a row. Has any group ever done that while NEVER having a #1 single in the US? Don’t think so.
1969 [LISTEN to all]: Proud Mary (#2), Bad Moon Rising (#2), Green River (#2), Down on the Corner (#3). Plus three Top 10 albums.
1970 [LISTEN to all]: Travelin’ Band (#2), Up Around the Bend (#4), Lookin’ Out Through My Back Door (#2). And a #1 album.
They even appeared at Woodstock, though most people don’t remember that; I had forgotten myself. Their performance was “not included in the film or soundtrack because John Fogerty felt the band’s performance was subpar.” That was a reflection of tensions in the band.
John Fogerty had taken control of most aspects of the band’s direction, to the chagrin of the others, so Tom Fogerty decided to quit, and the band continued as a trio. John then wanted a more democratic process with Stu and Doug, but it was John’s sound that made the band and putting out an album with all of the band writing songs turned out to be a commercial and critical failure.
The band broke up in 1974, and the label put Chronicle, Volume 1, “a collection of Creedence’s twenty hit singles, in 1976,” a double-LP set. For all my affection for their sound, this was my first CCR album, though I did acquire a couple of the earlier albums later on. That greatest hits collection included the single version of the last hit, a cover of I Heard It Through the Grapevine [LISTEN], while the CD version of the album has the 11-minute rendition [LISTEN].
John performed as a solo artist but didn’t sing CCR songs for emotional reasons tied to the group’s terrible contract with Fantasy Records, by which he would have to pay performance royalties, for a decade and a half. He got sued for sounding too much like John Fogerty on a song he recorded for another label in the mid-1980s, which was eventually settled in his favor. But he never really settled his dispute with brother Tom who “died of an AIDS complication in September 1990, which he contracted via a tainted blood transfusion he received while undergoing back surgery.”
This is also sad: “In the 1980s and 90s, new rounds of lawsuits between the band members, as well as against their former management, deepened their animosities. By the time CCR was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, John Fogerty refused to perform with Cook and Clifford. The pair were barred from the stage, while Fogerty played with an all-star band that included Bruce Springsteen and Robbie Robertson. Tom Fogerty’s widow Tricia had expected a Creedence reunion, and even brought the urn containing her husband’s ashes to the ceremony.”
Stu and Doug worked as session musicians and on other people’s albums before forming “Creedence Clearwater Revisited in 1995 with several well-known musicians. Revisited toured globally performing the original band’s classics. John Fogerty’s 1997 injunction forced Creedence Clearwater Revisited to temporarily change its name to ‘Cosmo’s Factory,’ but the courts later ruled in Cook’s and Clifford’s favor.”
The chance of a CCR reunion is remote. While John has recently suggested, after years of rejecting the idea, that it was theoretically possible, Stu and Doug don’t believe it will ever happen. But John’s solo career is thriving.
(I realize that quite a few of these family tales are less than happy. It DOES get better.)