Creedence Clearwater Revival

Creedence Clearwater Revival

▪ American rock group

      American rock band that was hugely popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Derided by many rock critics at the time as merely a “singles” band, Creedence Clearwater Revival proved to be masters at making thoughtful records that sold. The members were John Fogerty (b. May 28, 1945, Berkeley, Calif., U.S.), Tom Fogerty (b. Nov. 9, 1941, Berkeley—d. Sept. 6, 1990, Scottsdale, Ariz.), Stu Cook (b. April 25, 1945, Oakland, Calif.), and Doug Clifford (b. April 24, 1945, Palo Alto, Calif.).

      John Fogerty and his brother Tom, both singer-guitarists, joined forces in 1959 with bassist Cook and drummer Clifford, their junior-high-school classmates in El Cerrito, California, a suburb in the San Francisco Bay area. After achieving marginal success under names such as the Blue Velvets and the Golliwogs, they emerged as Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1967, with John Fogerty as their lead singer, lead guitarist, and sole songwriter. Released on the Fantasy label, Creedence Clearwater Revival (1968) was marred by psychedelic clichés but nevertheless earned gold album status and yielded “Suzie Q (Parts 1 and 2),” which was a cover of the Dale Hawkins rock standard and reached number 11 on the American charts. This modest debut scarcely hinted at the power of their follow-up album, Bayou Country (1969), on which John Fogerty—singing with raw, grainy fervour and drawing inspiration from the wellspring of Southern rock and roll and blues—demonstrated his mastery of the three-minute rock song. “Proud Mary,” a mythic journey down the Mississippi River of Fogerty's imagination, was an instant international hit.

      Constant touring established Creedence as one of the era's most exciting live acts as Fogerty penned a remarkable string of hit singles. Along with creating driving dance tunes, he had an uncanny gift for catching the temper of the times that few of his peers could match. The hits “Bad Moon Rising” (1969) and “Who'll Stop the Rain” (1970) evoked the Vietnam War and civil discord without explicitly referring to those events; “Fortunate Son” (1969) was a furious blast at wealth and status. From the beginning of 1969 until the end of 1970, Creedence ruled the American pop charts. Their other albums from this period—Green River (1969), Willy and the Poorboys (1969), and Cosmo's Factory (1970)—collected hits such as “Green River,” “Down on the Corner,” “Up Around the Bend,” and “Travelin' Band” (1970) and offered many other songs equal to them in craftsmanship.

      Tom Fogerty left the band in 1971 as “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” scaled the charts. Cook and Clifford demanded greater prominence, resulting in Mardi Gras (1972), which was dominated by their songs. Its critical and commercial failure led to the band's demise later that year. Unlike many 1960s acts, Creedence never staged a reunion. Tom Fogerty pursued a solo career until his death. Cook and Clifford worked as a rhythm section behind various artists before forming a touring version of Creedence with other musicians in 1995. John Fogerty's solo career was marred by legal battles over royalties and by long intervals between albums; however, he triumphed in 1997 with the Grammy Award-winning Blue Moon Swamp. Creedence Clearwater Revival was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

Christopher Walters

Representative Works

Bayou Country (1969)
Green River (1969)
Willy and the Poorboys (1969)
Cosmo's Factory (1970)
Pendulum (1970)

Additional Reading
Hank Bordowitz, Bad Moon Rising: The Unauthorized History of Creedence Clearwater Revival (1998), is a conventional, thoroughly researched biography that is somewhat slanted against John Fogerty. Craig Werner, Up Around the Bend: The Oral History of Creedence Clearwater Revival (1998), tells roughly the same story in the words of the people who lived it. Ellen Willis, “Creedence Clearwater Revival,” in Anthony DeCurtis, James Henke, and Holly George-Warren (eds.), The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll, 3rd ed. (1992), pp. 448–451, is a penetrating essay.

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Universalium. 2010.

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