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Creedence Clearwater Revival (1968-1972)

Creedence Clearwater Revival (1968-1972)

The late 60's and early 70's saw the rise of complex progressive rock, proto heavy metal and bubblegum pop. Creedence Clearwater Revival was out of these mainstreams. They cut a series of classic three-minute songs featuring singer-songwriter John Fogerty's growling vocals and signature guitar sounds. Their music was economical, straightforward rock and roll. They were the most successful and exhilarating band in the United States during that era.

After adopting the new name Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Fogerty brothers, plus Cook, and Clifford spent weeks rehearsing their new, tougher sound. In June 1968 Fantasy launched their first album Creedence Clearwater Revival, and a single, "Suzy Q (Parts 1 & 2)", based on a decade-old rock standard by Dale Hawkins.

Despite criticism from various sources, most notably from The Rolling Stone magazine, the album earned a gold record status by the end of the year. The pseudo-psychedelic rock and roll LP has stood the test of time well, and today it's regarded as one of the most promising debut LPs in the history of rock. The single peaked at number 11 in the U.S.

The recordings helped bring engagements in more prestigious rock venues, for instance in the summer of 1968 at Bill Graham's Fillmore West. Extended versions of their early songs peppered their gigs in these early days.

Creedence's second single, Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put A Spell On You", made the charts briefly, and disappeared. Then came the beginning of 1969 and their second album, Bayou Country, with a single "Proud Mary"/"Born On The Bayou". The album introduced the rock world to the unique mixture of Southern U.S. creole styles, rhythm & blues and rockabilly with tight and economical touches, that defined the music of Creedence Clearwater Revival during their late 60's-early 70's hey-day. The single, about a Mississippi river-boat, was their international breakthrough, making number 2 in the U.S. and 8 in the U.K. With his writing of "Proud Mary", John Fogerty was set to become one of rock's foremost composers and lyricists.

The achievement of "Proud Mary" was quickly followed by three 1969 gold-record hits: "Bad Moon Rising"/"Lodi", "Green River"/"Commotion" and "Down On The Corner"/"Fortunate Son". In the fall, they released their third album Green River which was soon followed by a fourth, Willy & the Poor Boys as Fogerty hit a rich, creative vein.

The latter album marked a gradual evolution of John Fogerty's themes, from material with a Mississippi Delta flavor to more social commentary, on such topics as nuclear holocaust ("Effigy"), and political and military pressures ("Fortunate Son").

In 1969, The Rolling Stone named Creedence the “Best American Band” and The Billboard reported they were the “Top Singles Artists of 1969”. The band could easily fill the largest available auditoriums for concert after concert. In August, they performed on the 2nd highest bill at the Woodstock rock festival.

CCR started 1970 with another gold single, "Travelin' Band"/"Who'll Stop The Rain". In April, the next gold 45 "Up Around The Bend" came out. The spring also saw their first European tour.

After returning home, their fifth album Cosmo's Factory landed in stores in July 1970. The LP was an immediate success, both in artistic and commercial terms. It went to the #1 position in several countries, including USA, UK and Finland.

Creedence closed out 1970 with the release of another best-selling album, albeit a critical failure, Pendulum. By the beginning of 1971, Creedence was beginning to run out of new worlds to conquer and a certain restlessness set in among the members. Even as the single "Have You Ever Seen The Rain"/"Hey Tonight" moved towards becoming the group's eighth gold-record, rumours said that changes were impending.

Besides doing lead vocals and lead guitar, John Fogerty wrote all of their songs and arranged and produced each cut before the Mardi Gras album; he also managed the band. The rest of the group demanded more of a voice in artistic and financial issues. With several gold records to his credit and a successful musical formula in his hands, Fogerty turned them down.

In February 1971, Tom Fogerty announced his departure from the band to work as a solo artist. The remaining group members continued to work as a trio. The first single of the reorganized CCR, "Sweet Hitchhiker" came out in July. The band's major tour of the U.S., Europe, Australia and Japan began in July and met with a reasonably good reception.

On their seventh and last studio album, Mardi Gras, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford wrote two thirds of the album's songs. In October 1972, Creedence Clearwater Revival was officially disbanded.

After the break-up, John Fogerty ended up in protracted  legal and contractual disputes with his label, Fantasy Records. In mid-70's he managed to work out a deal allowing him a release from his contract with the label. Perhaps due to these legal disputes, John Fogerty released only five studio albums during his solo career by 1997.

Tom Fogerty continued his solo career without major commercial success. Sadly he died of AIDS following an operation, on September 6th, 1990.

The rhythm section of the group, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford, followed other musical pursuits, both independently and together in,  Don Harrison Band, Southern Pacific, and Sir Douglas Quintet. In 1995, they formed a band called Creedence Clearwater Revisited. With three additional musicians, they still tour the world and perform the songs of Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Since disbanding, performances of Creedence Clearwater Revival have been extremely rare. Reportedly, they all played in the recording sessions of the Zephyr National album of Tom Fogerty in 1974. They also did two one-off performances together, one at Tom Fogerty's wedding in 1979 and the other at their high school party in 1983. A decade later, Creedence Clearwater Revival was nominated for induction into the “Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame”. However, John Fogerty didn't play with his former bandmates in the festivities. In this light, the reunion of the band seems unlikely, almost impossible.