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John Fogerty (born May 28, 1945) is an American musician, songwriter, and guitarist, best known for his time with the swamp rock/roots rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) and as a solo recording artist. Fogerty has a rare distinction of being named on Rolling Stone magazine's list of 100 Greatest Guitarists at No. 40 and the list of 100 Greatest Singers at No. 72. The songs "Proud Mary" and "Born on the Bayou" also rank amongst the Greatest Pop songs ("Proud Mary," #41) and Guitar songs ("Born on the Bayou," #53).
Fogerty was born in Berkeley, California, and is the younger brother of the late Tom Fogerty. He attended El Cerrito High School along with the other members of CCR and took guitar lessons from Berkeley Folk Festival creator/producer Barry Olivier.
Inspired by rock and roll pioneers, especially Little Richard and Bo Diddley, John and his brother Tom Fogerty joined Doug Clifford and Stu Cook in the late 1950s to form the band Tommy Fogerty and the Blue Velvets in El Cerrito, California. After signing with the jazz label Fantasy in 1965, they became The Golliwogs and released a few singles that were largely ignored.
Creedence Clearwater Revival (1967 to 1972)
Fogerty was almost drafted in 1966, instead joining an Army Reserve unit. He served at Fort Bragg, Fort Knox and Fort Lee. Fogerty was discharged from the Army in July 1967. In the same year, the band changed its name to Creedence Clearwater Revival.
By 1968, things started to pick up for the band. The band released its first album, the self-titled Creedence Clearwater Revival, and also had their first hit single, "Susie Q". Many other hit singles and albums followed beginning with "Proud Mary" and the parent album Bayou Country.
John 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 Stu Cook and drummer Doug 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 would become 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 barely 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 he said, "My voice is a unique instrument, and I will not lend it to your songs." He gave them an ultimatum: either they would do it or he would quit immediately. They accepted his ultimatum, but the album received poor reviews. It was a commercial success, however, peaking at #12 and achieving gold record status. It generated weaker sales than their previous albums. The group disbanded shortly afterwards.
Their only reunion with all four original members would be at Tom Fogerty's wedding in 1980. John, Doug and Stu played a 45 minute set at their 20th class reunion in 1983, and John and Doug would reunite again for a brief set at their 25th class reunion in 1988. By the time Creedence Clearwater Revival was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, John Fogerty refused to perform with his surviving bandmates Stu Cook and Doug 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 wore a necklace containing some of her husband's ashes to the ceremony.
Going solo (1973 to 1984)
John Fogerty began a solo career, originally under the name The Blue Ridge Rangers for his 1973 LP debut. Fogerty played all of the instruments on covers of others' country music hits, such as "Jambalaya" (which was a Top 20 hit). After performing country & western tunes he released a rock & roll single in late 1973, also as The Blue Ridge Rangers. The two John Fogerty penned songs were "You Don't Owe Me" and "Back in the Hills" (Fantasy F-710).
In early 1974 John Fogerty released two rock & roll tunes on a 7"-single. The two songs were the vocal "Comin' Down The Road" b/w the instrumental "Ricochet". His second solo album John Fogerty was released in 1975. Sales were slim and legal problems delayed a followup, though it yielded "Rockin' All Over the World", a top 40 hit for Fogerty in North America. Two years later, in 1977, British boogie rockers Status Quo recorded their version of "Rockin' All Over the World", which became a huge hit and made the song world-famous, not least by opening 1985's Live Aid with the song that had become one of their best-known anthems.
Fogerty finished an album called Hoodoo in 1976. A single, "You Got The Magic" b/w "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 couple weeks before its scheduled release, and Fogerty agreed that it was not up to his usual high standards. Fogerty told Asylum Records to destroy the master tapes for Hoodoo sometime in the 1980s. Fogerty is something of a perfectionist, often destroying unreleased material, but "bootleg" editions are known to exist of this material. Fogerty says that he was unable to write music during this period of his life, primarily due to stresses from ongoing financial and legal difficulties with Fantasy Records. Although Fogerty was signed to Asylum in North America, Fantasy continued to hold rights to his records for the rest of the world; unwilling to allow the label to continue to profit from any new material, he managed to terminate his contract with the record company by forgoing any future sales royalties on all of the music he produced with CCR, a deal which inevitably cost him millions of dollars, but which he says restored his peace of mind.
First comeback (1985 to 1996)
See also: The Old Man Down The Road and Fogerty v. Fantasy
Fogerty's solo career re-emerged in full force with 1985's Centerfield, his first album for Warner Bros. Records (which took over co-ownership of Asylum's contract with Fogerty). Centerfield went to the top of the charts and included a top-ten 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 that album was not without its legal snags.
Two songs on the album, "Zanz Kant Danz" and "Mr. Greed," were believed to be attacks on Fogerty's former boss at Fantasy Records, Saul Zaentz. "Zanz Kant Danz" was about a pig who can't dance but would "steal your money." When Zaentz responded with a lawsuit, Fogerty issued a revised version of "Zanz 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 Creedence to which Fantasy Records had owned the publishing rights). Fogerty ultimately won his case when he proved that the two songs were wholly distinct compositions. Fogerty then countersued 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 the 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 R&B tunes from the 1960s as well as material from the "Centerfield" LP and was recorded in front of an audience of Warners Brothers Music employees. The band included Albert Lee, Booker T. Jones, Duck Dunn, Steve Douglas and Prairie Prince amongst others.
The follow-up album to Centerfield was Eye of the Zombie in 1986, and it was significantly less successful than its predecessor. Fogerty toured behind the album, but he refused to play any Creedence 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 set list for his 2009 tour, and it was even re-recorded for that year's solo release, The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again.
Fogerty's lost gem from this era is Michael Anderson's No Love In You - a song he found on the Carla Olson / Textones album Midnight Mission and which he performed on a cable special. He also recorded it with Carla at Capitol Records Studio with the intent of it being a single b-side but never released it.
Fogerty played Creedence 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 29, 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 died of AIDS (specifically from a tuberculosis infection) at the age of 48, having contracted HIV from blood transfusions for back ailments. 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 not speaking to each other.
Fogerty traveled to Mississippi in 1990 for inspiration and visited the gravesite of blues legend Robert Johnson. According to him, there he realized that Robert Johnson was the true spiritual owner of his own songs, no matter what businessman owned the rights to them, and thus Fogerty decided to start making a new album and to perform his old Creedence material regularly in concert. It was at this time visiting the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church cemetery that 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, Lonnie Pitchford and helped with financial arrangements for numerous others.
Creedence Clearwater Revival was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. John Fogerty refused to perform with his former band mates 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 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."
Second comeback (1997 to 2006)
Fogerty returned 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.
On October 1, 1998, Fogerty was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His star is located at 7000 Hollywood Blvd.
It seemed as though Fogerty was back, but again he drifted out of the mainstream, only returning after another break in 2004. Deja Vu (All Over Again) was Fogerty’s next release. His new record contract was with DreamWorks Records, which had taken over distribution of Fogerty's Warner Bros. catalog. 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 10 songs into only 34 minutes.
The sale of Fantasy Records to Concord Records in 2004 ended the 30-plus-year estrangement between Fogerty and his former label as the new owners took steps to restore royalty rights Fogerty gave up in order to be released from his contract with Fantasy in the mid-1970s. In September 2005, Fogerty returned to Fantasy Records. That was 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, a compilation CD combining his Creedence hits with solo material which was issued in November 2005. A live CD and DVD concert was 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 a series of concerts in American swing states. He also appeared in a Christmas special video produced by the Australian children's group The Wiggles. "Centerfield" was also played at the 2008 Republican National Convention when John McCain introduced Sarah Palin as his running mate. Fogerty's numbers were played with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Fogerty toured with John Mellencamp in the summer of 2005 and with Willie Nelson in the summer of 2006. On June 29, 2006 he played his first headlining British concert since 1972, at the Hammersmith Apollo theater 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 as well as at the Denver Broncos/Kansas City Chiefs halftime later that evening.
Alongside Bill Withers, the Sherman Brothers, Steve Cropper and Isaac Hayes and David Porter, Fogerty was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005.
Events (2007 to 2008)
Fogerty completed his first new rock album in three years, Revival, which was released on October 2, 2007. Heavily promoted by the label, Revival debuted at number 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, he appeared with Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard
on the Grammy Awards Show. Along with these rock icons and his regular
touring band, he played his ultra-rare 1973 single "Comin' Down The Road"
leading into Lewis and Richard's performances of "Great Balls of Fire" and
"Good Golly Miss Molly," respectively.
John Fogerty in Sydney, Australia, March 26, 2008
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.
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, at the opening day festivities of the new Yankee Stadium.
Recent events (2009 to present)
On July 2, 3 and 4, 2009, Fogerty performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, which was completely sold out for these shows. Although the night was billed as Fogerty with the LA Philharmonic, the LA Philharmonic began the night with music by American composers, and Fogerty and his band came on after intermission and played all of his greatest hits. Fogerty and his band played only three songs with the orchestra.
On August 31, 2009, Fogerty released a sequel to his 1973 solo debut The Blue Ridge Rangers, called The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again. 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 sing with Fogerty on a cover of Ricky Nelson's 1972 classic "Garden Party."
The original announcement of this album was on December 10, 2008, where Billboard.com article announced that besides the Royal Albert Hall DVD, Fogerty was working on recording a new album of mostly country covers, called "The Return of the Blue Ridge Rangers". The album, titled The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again, 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(UMG).
UMG also handles the Fogerty/CCR Fantasy catalogue.
On October 29, 2009, Fogerty appeared 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.
On November 3, 2009, 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.
On July 25, 2010, Fogerty appeared at the induction ceremonies for the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. He performed his 1985 single, "Centerfield", and donated his baseball bat shaped-guitar to the Hall that day.
For his songwriting achievements, Fogerty was honored as a BMI 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 performed at the Night of the Proms concert on October 30, 2010. He performed several of his classic Creedence Clearwater Revival songs including the song "Long as I Can See The Light" from the Cosmo's Factory album which he had not notably performed live in his solo career prior to this. He was accompanied by the II Novecento Orchestra.
During one of the Tampa Bay Rays post game concerts, Fogerty performed with John Stamos.
On November 17, 2011 John Fogerty performed on the Late Show with David Letterman. On November 17 and 18, Fogerty performed two Creedence Clearwater Revival albums, Cosmo's Factory and Green River (respectively), in their entirety at the Beacon Theater in New York City (he also played Cosmo's Factory in Atlantic City on November 20). He was also featured on the CBS coverage of the Thanksgiving Day Parade, performing several prerecorded songs.
In January 2012, Fogerty's new song "Swamp Water" debuted over the opening credits of the new FOX TV series The Finder. Fogerty wrote the song specifically for the show and guest starred in its debut episode. "Swamp Water" is not expected to be included on any future John Fogerty album.
On May 23, 2012 Fogerty appeared on the live season finale of Fox TV's "American Idol" singing with finalist and eventual winner Phillip Phillips. The duo performed the Creedence Clearwater Revival classics "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" and "Bad Moon Rising."
On November 12, 2012 Fogerty announced that he was currently writing his memoirs, and that the book was expected to be released in 2014. Also planned is an audiobook version, to be released at the same time, narrated by Fogerty himself.
Fogerty began recording a new album, Wrote a Song For Everyone, in 2011, which was released on Vanguard Records on May 28, 2013 -- Fogerty's 68th birthday. The album is a collection of classics and deep tracks from his canon of hits performed alongside an array of today’s biggest superstars, including Foo Fighters (“Fortunate Son”), Bob Seger (“Who’ll Stop The Rain”), Dawes ("Someday Never Comes"), Brad Paisley ("Hot Rod Heart"), Miranda Lambert ("Wrote a Song for Everyone"), Kid Rock ("Born on the Bayou"), Keith Urban ("Almost Saturday Night"), My Morning Jacket ("Long as I Can See the Light"), Alan Jackson ("Have You Ever Seen the Rain"), Jennifer Hudson ("Proud Mary"), Zac Brown Band ("Bad Moon Rising"), and more. The album also includes two brand new Fogerty-penned songs.
Fogerty married Martha Paiz in 1965. They had three children before divorcing in the 1970s. He met Julie Kramer in 1986 while on tour in Indianapolis, Indiana, and they married in Elkhart, Indiana on April 20, 1991. Kramer had a daughter from a previous marriage. They had two sons, Shane and Tyler, and a daughter, Kelsy. As of 2009, they live in Beverly Hills, California.
"I'd heard these British guys using Les Pauls for lead, and it had this beautiful, fat tone. When I played it for the first time that day and started playing open E and G chords, it was like the Red Sea had parted. I knew that was it"
Fogerty's first electric guitar was a Silvertone with a small five watt amplifier which he bought at Sears with $80 he had earned from his paper route. During the mid-sixties with the Golliwogs, Fogerty played a Fender Mustang that he later traded for a Rickenbacker 325 which he modified with a Bigsby vibrato and Gibson rear pickup, this guitar was given to a fan at a concert in the late '60s. During the early days of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Fogerty used a Gibson ES-175 which was later stolen and subsequently replaced by a Gibson Les Paul. During the latter Creedence era Fogerty used at least two Les Pauls, one with a Bigsby vibrato and one with a standard tailpiece. For amplifiers Fogerty used a Kustom K-200-A4.
During his solo career Fogerty continued to use Gibson guitars such as a Les Paul Junior and Les Paul Goldtop reissue as well as various Fender guitars, including a Fender Telecaster modified with Stratocaster middle pickup and humbucker in the bridge position and a Fender Stratocaster fitted with two Fender Telecaster Deluxe humbuckers. He played a five-ply Washburn (unknown model) at the San Francisco "Concert Against AIDS" on May 29, 1989. His main amplifier has been a Kustom K200, but he has also used Mesa Boogie, Seymour Duncan and Marshall amplifiers.
Lately Fogerty has taken a big arsenal of guitars with him on tour including many of the above-mentioned guitars, four PRS guitars in various finishes, two Taylor acoustic guitars, three Ernie Ball guitars, a 1956 Les Paul Gold Top with P-90 pickups and a Maton BB1200. For amplification Fogerty uses and Dr. Z and Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier heads into Ampeg cabinets, a 2×15 cabinet for his clean sounds and Cornford MK100 head with a 4×12 Wizard cabinet for his distorted and lead sounds. Fogerty also uses Audiotech Guitar Products Source Selector 1×6 Rack Mount Audio Switcher.