STILL ROCKING all over the world:
by Norman Warwick
John Fogerty returned, for the second time, to the commercial music industry in 1997 with Blue Moon Swamp.
The layoff between Zombie and Swamp had been longer than his mid-1970s to mid-1980s break. The album was much more successful than Zombie and won the Grammy for best rock album in 1997. A live album, named Premonition, of the equally successful Blue Moon Swamp tour, was released to similar acclaim and good sales in 1998. A track from Blue Moon Swamp titled Blue Moon Nights, was used in the 2002 film The Rookie.
On October 1, 1998, Fogerty was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 7000 Hollywood Blvd. (left)
Six years later, Fogerty released Deja Vu All Over Again through DreamWorks Records, which had taken over distribution of Fogerty’s Warner catalogue. Rolling Stone wrote: The title track is Fogerty’s indictment of the Iraq War as another Vietnam, a senseless squandering of American lives and power. On the album, Fogerty squeezed ten songs into only 34 minutes.
The sale of Fantasy Records to Concord Records in 2004 ended the 30-year estrangement between Fogerty and his former label, as the new owners took steps to restore royalty rights Fogerty had given up to be released from his contract with Fantasy in the mid-1970s. In September 2005, Fogerty returned to Fantasy Records, made possible when DreamWorks Records’ non country-music unit was absorbed by Geffen Records, which dropped Fogerty, but continued to distribute his earlier solo albums. The first album released under the new Fantasy contract was The Long Road Home (November 2005, right) ), a compilation CD combining his CCR hits with solo material. A live CD and concert DVD were released the following year.
Fogerty’s touring schedule increased in the period after Deja Vu All Over Again. In October 2004, Fogerty appeared on the Vote for Change tour, playing seven of the concerts in U.S. swing states. He also appeared in a Christmas special video produced by the Australian children’s group The Wiggles. Fogerty toured with John Mellencamp (left) in the summer of 2005 and with Willie Nelson in the summer of 2006. In June of that year he played his first headlining British concert since 1972, at the Hammersmith Apollo in London, as part of the European leg of the tour. During that leg, he also performed in Sundsvall, Sweden, where 25,000 people came to see him perform at the town square. On Thanksgiving Day of 2006, Fogerty performed at halftime at the Miami Dolphins/Detroit Lions game and at the Denver Broncos/Kansas City Chiefs halftime later that evening.
The following year Fogerty appeared at Glastonbury Festival, playing an hour-long set of 17 songs, mainly CCR classics. Introducing Who’ll Stop the Rain, Fogerty said he did not perform it at Woodstock as had often been mistakenly accepted, but wrote the song inspired by the event.
Revival was released October 2, 2007. Heavily promoted by the label, Revival debuted at No. 14 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart with sales about 65,000 copies in its first week. Revival was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Album of 2008, but lost to the Foo Fighters.
On February 10, 2008, Fogerty appeared with Jerry Lee Lewis (right) and Little Richard on the Grammy Awards show. Along with these rock icons and his regular touring band, he played his 1973 single Comin’ Down The Road, leading into Lewis and Richard’s performances of Great Balls of Fire and Good Golly Miss Molly, respectively.
On March 16, 2008, Fogerty kicked off an Australian tour. On March 22 in Point Nepean, Australia, surprise guest Keith Urban joined Fogerty on stage, performing two songs: Broken Down Cowboy, off Fogerty’s newest album Revival, and Cotton Fields, from CCR’s album Willy & the Poor Boys, a title track that is my all time favourite feel-good song !
On June 24, 2008, Fogerty made a return to the Royal Albert Hall, a venue he last played with CCR in 1971. It was the last concert on his 2008 European tour. This concert was filmed (causing staging problems that annoyed some fans) and was released in 2009.
On April 16, 2009, Fogerty performed his hit Centerfield from center field of the new Yankee Stadium, at its opening-day festivities. The lyrics of that song always seem to reflect my pent up enthusiasm as a teenager, when I seemed to be a permanent but un-used substitute from my local cricket and football teams.
That same year, Fogerty performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, which was sold out for these shows. Though billed as Fogerty with the L.A. Philharmonic, the orchestra began the night with music by U.S. composers, and Fogerty and his band came on after intermission, playing only three songs with the orchestra.
On August 31, 2009, Fogerty released The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again, a sequel 1973 solo debut The Blue Ridge Rangers. The album includes a duet with Bruce Springsteen on the 1960 Everly Brothers classic When Will I Be Loved?. In addition, Don Henley and Timothy B. Schmit of the Eagles sang with Fogerty on a cover of Ricky Nelson‘s 1972 Garden Party. The album was the first issued on Fogerty’s own label Fortunate Son Records, which is distributed by the Verve Forecast Records unit of Universal Music Group and also handles the Fogerty/CCR Fantasy catalogue.
Fogerty then appeared in October of the same year at Madison Square Garden for the first night of the celebratory 25th Anniversary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concerts. Bruce Springsteen, with the E Street Band, called Fogerty out to play three songs with them. “Fortunate Son” was their first song, followed by Proud Mary, and finally the duo tried their take on Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman. The show aired as a four-hour special on HBO on November 29, 2009.
The following month, Fogerty released the Royal Albert Hall DVD entitled Comin’ Down The Road, named after his 1973 single, which he performed at this concert. Fogerty was also nominated for a Grammy Award at the 2010 Grammys. He was nominated for the Best Rock Solo Vocal Performance Grammy for the song Change In The Weather”, which he recorded for The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again.
For his song-writing achievements, Fogerty was honoured as a Broadcast Music Incorporated Icon at the 58th annual BMI Pop Awards on May 18, 2010. BMI Icons are selected because of their “unique and indelible influence on generations of music makers.”
Fogerty began recording Wrote A Song for Everyone in 2011, which was released on Vanguard Records on May 28, 2013, his 68th birthday. The album is a collection of classics and tracks from his canon of hits performed with other artists. The album included two newly-penned Fogerty songs. On November 17, 2011, Fogerty performed on the Late Show with David Letterman and also performed two CCR albums, Cosmo’s Factory and Green River, respectively, in their entirety at the Beacon Theater (right) in New York City (he also played Cosmo’s Factory in Atlantic City on November 20).
At the start of 2012 Fogerty’s new song Swamp Water debuted over the opening credits of the new Fox TV series The Finder. Fogerty wrote the song for the show and guest-starred in its debut episode. On November 12, 2012, Fogerty announced that he was writing his memoirs. The book was expected to be released In October 2015, titled, Fortunate Son and published by Little, Brown & Co.
With a popular book in the stories and available on Goodreads and Amazon, Fogerty signed a new recording contract with BMG Rights Management, in 2017 that promised an upcoming album and packages of his his solo catalogue.
In November 2019, Fogerty appeared on Public Broadcasting Station pledge week with John Fogerty: My 50 Year Trip, a taped performance from Red Rocks Amphitheater, Colorado. His most recent performance was at the Winstar in Thackerville, Oklahoma, on December 31, 2019. The remaining performances of the tour My 50 Year Trip were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While on lockdown during the pandemic in early 2020, Fogerty, accompanied by sons Shane and Tyler and daughter Kelsy, began releasing performance videos of previously released originals and covers. Under the brand Fogerty’s Factory, the group performed remotely on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, NPR‘s Tiny Desk Concerts, and SiriusXM‘s Classic Vinyl station. Collecting seven songs from the remote performances, the Fogerty’s Factory EP was released on May 28, 2020, coinciding with Fogerty’s 75th birthday. A 12-track album edition featuring additional lockdown performances followed on November 20. Fogerty performed backing vocals on “Scream and Shout,” a single by his sons’ band Hearty Har, released October 19, 2020.
That remarkable catalogue of success tells only the third chapter !
All the above represents a prominent and prolific career to be proud of but in the earlier part of that career John Cameron Fogerty (born May 28, 1945) had been a founder member of Creedence Clearwater Revival (right) along with Doug Clifford, Stu Cook, and his brother Tom Fogerty. John was the lead singer, lead guitarist, and principal songwriter. The group had nine top-10 singles and eight gold albums between 1968 and 1972, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
After Fogerty’s military service, he and his teenage band, Golliwogs, resumed playing, releasing an album in late 1967. In 1968, they changed their name to Creedence Clearwater Revival, with John Fogerty taking his brother’s place as lead singer. The band released their eponymous debut album and also had their first hit single, Susie Q. Many other hit singles and albums followed, beginning with Proud Mary and the album Bayou Country.
Fogerty, as writer of the songs for the band as well as lead singer and lead guitarist, felt that his musical opinions should count for more than those of the others, leading to resentments within the band. These internal rifts, and Tom’s feeling that he was being taken for granted, caused Tom to leave the group in January 1971. The two other group members, bassist Cook and drummer Clifford, wanted a greater role in the band’s future. Fogerty, in an attempt to keep things together, insisted Cook and Clifford share equal songwriting and vocal time on what became the band’s final album, Mardi Gras, released in April 1972, which included the band’s last two singles, the 1971 hit Sweet Hitch-Hiker, and Someday Never Comes, which made it into the Billboard Top 20.
Cook and Clifford told Fogerty that the fans would not accept Mardi Gras as a CCR LP, but Fogerty told them, ´My voice is a unique instrument, and I will not lend it to your songs´. According to the two band-mates, Fogerty gave them an ultimatum: either they would do it or Fogerty would quit immediately. They accepted Fogerty’s ultimatum. The album received poor reviews, but was a commercial success, peaking at number 12 and achieving gold-record status. It did, however, generate weaker sales than previous albums and the group disbanded shortly after the album was released.
The only reunion of all four original members was at Tom Fogerty’s wedding in 1980. Fogerty, Clifford, and Cook played a 45-minute set at their 20th El Cerrito high school class reunion in 1983, and Fogerty and Clifford were reunited again for a brief set at their 25th class reunion.
Even early in his career, Fogerty’s attitude toward music could be perceived by some fans and critics as serious, practiced and even perfectionistic. He drilled his band- mates in rehearsal after rehearsal, insisting that his songs be performed his way. Although John struggled with alcohol later in life he had only contempt for musicians whose habits interfered with their performances. ´Not in my band´, he later wrote in his memoir, Fortunate Son. ´You dare not be stoned playing music around me…. When you’re working, you’re supposed to be working´.
As CCR was coming to an end, the second chapter of John Fogerty´s career was being born. He began working on a solo album of country and western covers, on which he produced, arranged, and played all of the instruments. Despite the solo nature of the recordings, however, Fogerty elected to credit the album to The Blue Ridge Rangers—a band of which he was the only member.
The eponymous The Blue Ridge Rangers was released in 1973; it spun off the top-20 hit Jambalaya, as well as a lesser hit in Hearts Of Stone. Fogerty, still using The Blue Ridge Rangers name, then released a self-penned rock-and-roll single: You Don’t Owe Me b/w Back In The Hills (Fantasy F-710). It was a commercial flop, failing to make the Hot 100 in the U.S., though You Don’t Owe Me was a minor hit in Canada, reaching No. 79. Fogerty thereafter abandoned The Blue Ridge Rangers identity, and released all his subsequent work under his own name. In early 1974, Fogerty released Comin’ Down The Road—backed with the instrumental Ricochet.
His first official solo album, John Fogerty, was released in 1975. Sales were slim and legal problems delayed a follow-up, though it yielded Rockin’ All Over the World, a No. 27 hit for Fogerty in the United States. In 1977, British boogie rockers Status Quo recorded their version of Rockin’ All Over the World (right) , which became a huge hit. Status Quo played it at the opening of the 1985 Live Aid concert and made the song so world-famous that it was even adapted by fans at sporting events.
In 1976, Fogerty finished an album called Hoodoo. A single, You Got The Magic backed with Evil Thing, preceded the album’s release, but it performed poorly. The album, for which covers had already been printed, was rejected by Asylum Records a few weeks before its scheduled release, and Fogerty agreed that it was not up to his usual high standards. In fact, later, sometime in the eighties, he told Asylum Records to destroy the master tapes for Hoodoo .
After a hiatus of several years from the music industry, Fogerty’s solo career re-emerged with 1985’s Centerfield, his first album for Warner Bros. Records, which had taken co-ownership of Asylum’s contract with Fogerty. Centerfield went to the top of the charts and included a top-10 hit in The Old Man Down The Road. The title track is frequently played on classic rock radio and at baseball games to this day, but the album led to legal problems for Fogerty.
Zanz Kant Danz was about a pig that cannot dance, but would “steal your money”. When Zaentz responded with a lawsuit, Fogerty issued a revised version: “Vanz Kant Danz” (changing the lead character’s name to Vanz). Another lawsuit (Fantasy, Inc. v. Fogerty) claimed that The Old Man Down The Road shared the same chorus as Run Through The Jungle, a song from Fogerty’s days with CCR to which Fantasy Records still owned the publishing rights.
Fogerty ultimately won his case when he proved that the two songs were distinct compositions and also that sounding like himself was not plagiarizing. Fogerty then counter-sued for attorney fees (Fogerty v. Fantasy). After losing in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Fogerty won his case in the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that a trial court has discretion in awarding fees to defendants or plaintiffs.
On May 31, 1985, Fogerty filmed a one-hour music and interview special for Showtime called John Fogerty’s All-Stars. The set-list consisted of rhythm and blues tunes from the 1960s, as well as material from the Centerfield LP and the song No Love In You written by Michael Anderson, which Fogerty found on the Textones‘ debut album Midnight Mission and he later recorded with Textones’ band leader Carla Olson (right) . John Fogerty’s All-Stars was recorded in front of an audience of Warners Bros. Music employees and other invited guests at A&M Records on La Brea in Hollywood. The band included Albert Lee, Booker T. Jones, Duck Dunn, Steve Douglas, and Prairie Prince.
The follow-up album to Centerfield was Eye Of The Zombie in 1986, but it was significantly less successful than its predecessor. Fogerty toured behind the album, but he refused to play any CCR material. Eye of the Zombie took on a darker mood, talking about a troubled society, terrorism, and pop stars selling out. For over 20 years after the Eye of the Zombie tour ended in late 1986, Fogerty refused to play material from the album in concert. However, “Change in the Weather” was included in the setlist for his 2009 tour, and it was even re-recorded for that year’s solo release, The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again.
Fogerty played CCR material again at a concert in Washington, D.C., for Vietnam veterans that took place on July 4, 1987. The show was aired on HBO. Aside from a guest appearance at the Palomino and performance at the 1986 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, this was the first time Fogerty had performed any Creedence Clearwater Revival songs for a large audience since 1972. On May 27, 1989, he played a set of CCR material at Oakland Coliseum for the Concert Against AIDS. His backing band that night consisted of Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir on guitars, Randy Jackson on bass, and Steve Jordan on drums.
In 1990, Tom Fogerty (left) died of complications from AIDS at the age of 48, specifically from a tuberculosis infection, having contracted HIV from blood transfusions during surgery for a back ailment. John Fogerty has mentioned that the darkest moments in his life were when his brother took the record company’s side in their royalties dispute, and the fact that when his brother died, the two of them were barely speaking to each other. In fact, even in the brothers’ very last conversation with each other, Tom at one point referred to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s former manager Saul Zaentz as his “best friend”. Given that Zaentz had swindled the band out of millions of dollars and had just recently attempted to sue John, this revelation made it painfully difficult for John to reconcile with Tom. In the eulogy he delivered at Tom’s funeral, he 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.
John Fogerty traveled to Mississippi in 1990 for inspiration, and visited the gravesite of blues legend Robert Johnson (right) . According to him, while there, he had the realization that Robert Johnson was the true spiritual owner of his own songs, no matter what businessman owned the rights to them, thus Fogerty decided to start making a new album and to perform his old CCR material regularly in concert. At this time, visiting the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church cemetery, Fogerty met Skip Henderson, a New Jersey vintage guitar dealer who had formed a nonprofit corporation, the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund, to honor Johnson with a memorial marker. Fogerty subsequently funded headstones for Charlie Patton, James Son Thomas, Mississippi Joe Callicott, Eugene Powell, and Lonnie Pitchford, and helped with financial arrangements for numerous others.
photo 15 Creedence Clearwater Revival was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. Fogerty refused to perform with his former bandmates and fellow inductees Stu Cook and Doug Clifford during the musical portion of the induction ceremony. In place of the surviving members of CCR, Fogerty recruited session musicians on drums and bass and was also joined by Bruce Springsteen and Robbie Robertson (left) in performing three songs: Who’ll Stop the Rain, Born On The Bayou, and Green River. During the induction speech, Springsteen said, “As a songwriter, only a few did as much in three minutes [as John Fogerty]. He was an Old Testament, shaggy-haired prophet, a fatalist. Funny, too. He was severe, he was precise, he said what he had to say and he got out of there.”
The piece below is extrapolated from a feature by JACOB UITTI in American Songwriter magazine
Whilst John Fogerty´s lyric were not especially associated with protest, politics or insightful social awareness, they painted an indelible picture of America for a my generation of English teenagers. Given that my forty year old son, and others of his generation, are big fans of CCR and Fogerty the picture John painted seems to become a classic work of art.
Jacob Uitti, writing once in American Songwriter magazine, began not with a focus on those lyrics, however, but instead with the most often overlooked part of FGogerty´s talent and appeal.
Before we begin, let’s just take a moment to pay respect to John Fogerty’s voice. It sounds like sunshine through a rusted pipe. Okay, now that we have that behind us, let’s check out one of Fogerty’s most memorable tunes, “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” which John (left) wrote with his influential California-’born rock band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and released on the group’s 1970 LP, Cosmo’s Factory.
The gravelly rock single hit No. 2 on the Billboard charts. It was kept from the top spot by legendary singer Diana Ross and her rendition of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” although it did hit No. 1 on a number of charts around the world. It’s also No. 1 in the hearts of many fans of the 1998 cult classic The Big Lebowski, a movie that mixes the mundane with the psychedelic, much like the Creedence song at hand. (Lebowski listens to the song, as you can see in the clip below, as he checks his rearview mirror.)
To begin with, is there any more banal way to frame a song? One looking out his own backdoor? But with the simple comes the detailed, too, when considering the best kinds of artists, like Fogerty. Since its release, many have speculated that the lyrics are about drugs. A sort of wild-minded tune as the singer sits agape and tripping, looking at the loopy world from his doorway. In the song, the narrator (Fogerty, let’s say) has just gotten home from Illinois. He needs to re-settle himself, take a rest.
He locks the front door. Looks out the back door. His mind unwinds, his “imagination sets in.” He listens to Bakersfield musician Buck Owens as a number of things pass in front of his eyes: happy creatures, dinosaur Victrola, a giant doing cartwheels, a statue wearing high heels. Elephants with tambourines. Flying spoons—in fact, it’s the flying spoons that trigger many to think this is a drug-related song. Before we address that, let’s dive into some of the song’s lyrics. Fogerty sings:
Just got home from Illinois, lock the front door, oh boy!
Got to sit down, take a rest on the porch
Imagination sets in, pretty soon I’m singin’
Doo, doo, doo, lookin’ out my back door
There’s a giant doin’ cartwheels, a statue wearin’ high heels
Look at all the happy creatures dancin’ on the lawn
Dinosaur Victrola, listenin’ to Buck Owens
Doo, doo, doo, lookin’ out my back door
Pretty trippy stuff. But, if you ask Fogerty, it’s not about drugs, he says. In interviews and in the Bad Moon Rising: The Unauthorized History of Creedence Clearwater, Fogerty is quoted as saying the song was actually written for his then three-year-old son, Josh. He’s also said that the reference to the parade passing by the door was inspired by the Dr. Seuss story, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. (left)
While the two-and-a-half-minute song packs a punch (and its music video features great beards, dad bods, and flannel), that there is still some mystery behind the meaning and origins of the lyrics is all the better. More than anything, though, it’s just an epic example of Fogerty’s inimitable scratchy-snarly voice that will live forever long past the view out any of our back doors.
Since CCR parted ways in 1972, Fogerty has had a successful solo career, which continues. He has been listed on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of 100 Greatest Songwriters (at No. 40) and the list of 100 Greatest Singers (at No. 72). His songs include Proud Mary, Bad Moon Rising, Fortunate Son, Green River, Down On The Corner, Who’ll Stop the Rain, Centerfield and The Old Man Down the Road.
That great piece by Mr. Uitti for American Songwriter perfectly captured the American song-writer that is John Fogerty and reminded us of the diversity in his discography.
Nevertheless, it has to be said that Fortunate Son: My Life My Music is neither the most self-effacing nor the most magnaminous memoir I have ever read. Every page suggests that John Fogerty does not suffer fools gladly. The pages also, though, offer a revealing insight into how claustrophobic living in a band can be, especially with a sibling and how relentless is the demand for the new and the need to be seen by fans and the music media to remain au currant with the industry.
Nevertheless I could, throughout my (andmittedly one-sitting) reading of the book constantly feel the sharpness Fogerty´s tone and a seeming lack of appreciation of the talents of others.
It seemed Patti, a Goodreads reviewer apparently shares some of my misgivings about the work.
I’ve always felt bad for Fogerty and how he was cheated out of his own music for years. However, after reading this, I felt that maybe it was a little bit of karma.
He came across as arrogant, especially when talking about how the band knew nothing and he had to teach them all everything about music. I’m sure they knew something or they wouldn’t have been playing instruments prior to meeting him.
I got so irritated with his “Me! Me! Me!” attitude that I skimmed the rest and still didn’t care much
Other readers are far more understanding and forgiving of Fogerty, with a Goodreads review by J H Grice saying ´John Fogerty finally gets to tell his side of the story in regards to Creedence Clearwater Revival, and his fellow band mates. He was pretty much thrown under the bus by Doug Clifford and Stu Cook in the unauthorized bio of CCR called BAD MOON RISING. Anyway, as a huge CCR fan, this book was a joy to read. I appreciated John’s personal and musical life histories, and I felt he painted an honest picture of himself. There are always plenty of Egos in rock bands, and I know there were problems in CCR, but I also think that no one person is blameless or entirely at fault either. There are two sides to every story, and at least Fogerty has shared his own. Excellent book´.
Speaking for myself, I always have loved CCR music, with Lodi (a B side, for God´s sake) being one of the finest narrative songs I know and Fogerty´s solo offerings have always shared excellent production values.
Willy And The Poor Boys (left) is a song that always runs through my mind, (and becomes a double A side when I also recall Joni Mitchell´s similar-in-theme song of For Free, whenever I see and hear any of the scores of excellent busking teams we see here on the island of Lanzarote.
So, maybe we should cut Fogerty some slack, but if you need three good reasons to do so, here they are.
Willy And The Poor Boys
That, surely, is enough to keep all of us rocking, all over the world !