Born May 28, 1945, in Berkeley, Calif.; married, wife's name Martha (three children). Addresses: Residence --El Cerrito, Calif. Other --c/o P.O. Box 9245, Berkeley, CA 94709.
John Fogerty is "a great American songwriter, with the clean-cut narrative gifts of [rock pioneer] Chuck Berry, the honesty of [country star] Hank Williams and the rave-up musical skills of a perfesser in a Saturday night juke joint," declared Jay Cocks of Time. Perhaps best known as the driving force behind what Jim Miller of Newsweek labeled "the best American rock band of its era," Creedence Clearwater Revival, Fogerty, with his writing, lead guitar, and vocals, led the group to prominence during the late 1960s and early 1970s. With the other members of Creedence, he is responsible for rock classics such as "Proud Mary," "Bad Moon Rising," and "Who'll Stop the Rain." After Creedence disbanded in 1972, Fogerty's first attempt at making a solo career for himself was only moderately successful. In the mid-1970s he became embroiled in legal battles with Fantasy, Creedence's record label, and an accounting firm that had allegedly mishandled his funds; embittered, he dropped out of the music scene for approximately nine years. In 1985, however, Fogerty resurfaced with a new album, Centerfield --in addition to the smash title-track paean to baseball, it includes the hits "The Old Man down the Road" and "Rock and Roll Girls."
The multitalented Fogerty began his musical career while still in junior high in El Cerrito, California. He got together with fellow students Stu Cook and Doug Clifford to form a group called the Blue Velvets. They were later joined by Fogerty's older brother Tom and performed in the San Francisco Bay area. The young men also made a few recordings on small local labels such as Kristy and Orchestra, but these efforts did not sell. In 1964, however, the Blue Velvets landed a contract with Fantasy Records in nearby Berkeley. A year later, the group had changed its name to the Golliwogs, but they were still unable to make a hit record. Fantasy lost interest in them, but when Saul Zaentz bought the label, he encouraged the Golliwogs to come back, though he suggested the group find itself a better name. Thus, in 1968, Creedence Clearwater Revival was born.
Creedence's first hit single was a 1968 revision of a song by Dale Hawkins, with John Fogerty singing the lead--"Suzie-Q." After that, the band primarily kept to recording Fogerty's original compositions. In 1969 Creedence had several chart hits, including "Proud Mary," "Bad Moon Rising," "Lodi," "Green River," and "Commotion." They followed these up with 1970's "Who'll Stop the Rain," "Looking Out My Back Door," and "Run through the Jungle," which Cocks credited as one of "the first songs about Viet Nam that sounded as if [it] could have been sung by the soldiers as well as peace marchers." In 1971, however, tensions arising from John Fogerty's artistic domination of the group led Tom Fogerty to leave it. Though John Fogerty subsequently shared the songwriting tasks with the remaining members, and completed a successful European tour with them, Creedence finally broke up in 1972.
When John Fogerty became a solo artist, he released the country-flavored Blue Ridge Rangers in 1973. Through the use of overdubbing different tracks during the recording process, he played all of the instruments and sang all of the vocals himself. Fogerty's efforts were rewarded with borderline hit status for the album's single "Hearts of Stone." He released a few more albums, but none enjoyed the popularity of his work with Creedence.
Fogerty stopped recording in the mid-1970s, however, when legal disputes with Fantasy and his accounting firm began to take up much of his time. "There was an anvil over my head," Fogerty told Cocks. "Writing, the music, my understanding of 'arrange' and 'produce' were gone." But he planned to make a comeback when the legal battles were over, and he continued to practice daily. "I knew that if I kept working on the music, not getting somebody else to play bass or anything for me, that if I somehow understood the music again the way I did in the beginning, when it was so personal, when I did it with my own two hands, I knew that somehow each of the motions would help release me," Fogerty explained to Cocks.
Finally, in the early 1980s, Fogerty began to write songs again. He composed what would become Centerfield in roughly five and a half months and took the results to Warner Brothers Records. According to Cocks, Fogerty asked Lenny Waronker, the president of the company, "How does a 39-year-old has-been rock singer get you to listen to his records?" Waronker was more than agreeable to listening and was impressed by Fogerty's material-- Centerfield was on its way.
Most critics raved about the 1985 release, on which Fogerty again played all the instruments himself; most of them also noted its relationship to the swampy-sounding Creedence repertoire. "Fogerty's new music [is] like rediscovering a long-lost friend," Miller observed, and Kurt Loder of Rolling Stone proclaimed it "a near-seamless extension of the Creedence sound and a record that's likely to convert a whole new generation of true believers." Centerfield rose quickly on the album charts, hitting the Top 10 in only three weeks. "The Old Man down the Road," the first single from the album, "sounds like nothing else on the radio," applauded Cocks, "a swampy, spooky piece of back-country funk about a mojo man who becomes a figure of mystery, and of death." Another hit, "Rock and Roll Girls," was praised by Loder as "a rather spectacular demonstration of what can still be done with three shitty chords and a blatzing sax." Of course, the album's title song, in which Fogerty uses his love of baseball as a metaphor for his joy in making music, has become not only a hit record but a standard anthem played in baseball stadiums across the United States. Other interesting cuts from Centerfield include "Big Train," a tribute to the old rockabilly sound of Sun Records, and "Zanz Kant Danz," which, Loder speculates, may be an attack on the former head of Fantasy Records, Saul Zaentz.
Though Loder complained that some of Centerfield 's material is dated, Cocks argued that Fogerty's music seems "timeless ... torn out of some imaginary territory in rock's persistent past." Miller concluded that "Fogerty's sensibility has an enduring popular appeal," and hailed him as "the once and future poet laureate of the pop single."
by Elizabeth Thomas
John Fogerty's Career
Played with the Blue Velvets beginning in 1959, name changed to the Golliwogs, c. 1965, and then Creedence Clearwater Revival, 1968-72; solo artist, 1972-c. 1976; dropped out of music business, c. 1976-85; solo recording artist and concert performer, 1985--.
- With Creedence Clearwater Revival; on Fantasy Records
- Creedence Clearwater Revival (includes "Suzie-Q"), 1968.
- Bayou Country (includes "Proud Mary" and "Born on the Bayou"), 1969.
- Green River (includes "Green River," "Bad Moon Rising," "Lodi," "Commotion," and "Wrote a Song for Everyone"), 1969.
- Willy and the Poor Boys (includes "Down on the Corner" and "Fortunate Son"), 1969.
- Cosmo's Factory (includes "Travelin' Band," "Who'll Stop the Rain," "Up around the Bend," "Run through the Jungle," "Looking Out My Back Door," and "Long As I Can See the Light"), 1970.
- Pendulum (includes "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" and "Hey, Tonight"), 1970.
- Mardi Gras (includes "Sweet Hitchhiker" and "Someday Never Comes"), 1972.
- Solo LPs
- Blue Ridge Rangers (includes "Hearts of Stone"), Fantasy, 1973.
- Centerfield (includes "Centerfield," "The Old Man down the Road," "Rock and Roll Girls," "Searchlight," "I Saw It on TV," "Big Train," "Mr. Greed," "I Can't Help Myself," and "Zanz Kant Danz"), Warner Brothers, 1985.
- Eye of the Zombie Warner Brothers, c. 1986.
- Also recorded John Fogerty and Hoodoo with Asylum Records in the early 1970s.
November 26, 2004: Fogerty appeared in concert with Billy Burnette and Benmont Tench at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles, California. Source: Reuters, reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=reviewsNews&storyID=6937100, November 29, 2004.
- Newsweek, February 18, 1985.
- Rolling Stone, January 31, 1985; March 14, 1985.
- Time, January 28, 1985.