Classic Rock Legends: Creedence Clearwater Revival

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You can’t call yourself a true oldies music fan if you don’t know anything about Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR). This iconic band has left an indelible mark on the world of rock and roll with their distinctive Southern rock sound and timeless hits.

Early Days and Formation

Tom Fogerty

1959: John Fogerty and Doug Clifford, two high school friends, formed a band called The Blue Velvets. Later, John’s older brother, Tom Fogerty, joined the group.

Early 1960s: The band was first signed to Orchestra Records in California’s Bay Area, releasing three singles that achieved only modest sales.

Fantasy Records: The group signed a contract with Fantasy Records. The label’s co-owner, Max Weiss, changed their name to The Golliwogs, hoping to capitalize on the British Invasion. In 1966, John Fogerty and Doug Clifford were drafted into military service, halting the band’s recording plans.

Rise to Fame

In 1967, Saul Zaentz purchased Fantasy Records and offered the band a chance to record an LP, provided they changed their name. They chose “Creedence Clearwater Revival.” This period saw some lineup changes: Cook switched from piano to bass, Tom moved to rhythm guitar, and John became the lead vocalist and guitarist.

In 1968, John Fogerty and Doug Clifford were discharged from the military. CCR released their self-titled debut album, featuring the hit single “Suzie Q,” which reached #11 on the charts. Another single, “I Put a Spell on You,” reached #58. The debut album went platinum, launching the band on their first national tour.

Breakthrough and Success

In 1969, CCR released their second album, “Bayou Country,” which included the now-classic song “Proud Mary,” reaching #2 on the Hot 100 and #8 in the UK. The album went platinum.

Their third LP, “Green River,” was released, featuring the hit “Bad Moon Rising,” which peaked at #2. The album topped the Billboard 200, selling three million copies in the US.

The fourth studio album, “Willy and The Poor Boys,” was released, going double platinum. Singles “Down on the Corner” and “Fortunate Son” reached #3 and #14, respectively.

The Pinnacle of Success

In 1970, CCR released “Cosmo’s Factory,” considered their finest album. It sold four million units and was certified quadruple platinum. Singles included “Travelin’ Band” and “Up Around the Bend,” which reached #2 and #4 on the Hot 100. The album is ranked #265 on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.”

The sixth album, “Pendulum,” was released and was also a success. Its singles “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” and “Sweet Hitch-Hiker” reached the Top 10, peaking at #8 and #6, respectively.

Sweet Hitch-Hiker

Key Albums and Singles

Albums:

  1. Creedence Clearwater Revival (1968)
  2. Bayou Country (1969)
  3. Green River (1969)
  4. Willy and The Poor Boys (1969)
  5. Cosmo’s Factory (1970)
  6. Pendulum (1970)
  7. Mardi Gras (1972)

Singles:

  1. “Suzie Q”
  2. “I Put a Spell on You”
  3. “Proud Mary”
  4. “Bad Moon Rising”
  5. “Down on the Corner”
  6. “Fortunate Son”
  7. “Travelin’ Band”
  8. “Who’ll Stop the Rain”
  9. “Up Around the Bend”
  10. “Run Through the Jungle”
  11. “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?”
  12. “Sweet Hitch-Hiker”

Internal Struggles and Breakup

Despite their commercial success, tensions were brewing within the band. John Fogerty’s control over the band’s artistic direction caused friction. The “democratic” approach he eventually adopted did not sit well with the rest of the band. Tom Fogerty left the band in February 1971, leading to further changes.

In 1972 CCR released their final album, “Mardi Gras,” which did not achieve the same success as their previous works. Critics often regard it as their weakest album.

The acrimony and the irreparable estrangement between the Fogerty brothers were worsened by the group’s legal and financial troubles. Due to the deteriorating relations between the members and also Credence’s souring relationship with their label, Fantasy Records, CCR publicly announced their breakup on October 16, 1972.

All four members worked on separate music projects after the breakup. Stu Cook and Doug Clifford teamed up, mostly doing session work. They also formed the Credence Clearwater Revisited in 1995. John Fogerty saw considerable success as a solo artist; one of his albums, Centerfield, was a Billboard chart-topper in 1985, yielding the Top 10 hit single which is the title track. In comparison to his brother’s solo career, Tom Fogerty, was less successful, releasing a handful of records before dying of AIDS (from a blood transfusion) in 1990.

The Enduring Legacy of Creedence Clearwater Revival

Although Creedence Clearwater Revival only stayed together for five years, their music continues to resonate with fans worldwide. During their peak, CCR sold over 26 million albums in the US alone and had nine Top 10 singles, four of which reached #2. Their creative and distinct Southern rock sound has an eternal appeal that spans generations and continues to influence new musicians today.

Creedence Clearwater Revival’s legacy endures, proving that their music will always remain in the hearts and minds of rock and roll enthusiasts.

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