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Music / Creedence Clearwater Revival

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CCR during their heyday. From left to right: John Fogerty, Doug Clifford, Tom Fogerty, and Stu Cook.

"Some folks are born made to wave the flag
Ooh, they're red, white, and blue
And when the band plays "Hail to the Chief"
Ooh, they point the cannon at you

Some folks inherit star-spangled eyes
Ooh, they send you down to war
And when you ask them, 'How much should we give?'
Ooh, they only answer, 'More! More! More!'"
— "Fortunate Son" (Willy and the Poor Boys)

Creedence Clearwater Revival, usually abbreviated as CCR (though diehard fans often prefer simply calling them "Creedence"), was a very popular rock band of the '60s and '70s. Like Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers Band, CCR helped define the Southern Rock genre of the era — this in spite of the band actually hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area.

The band members met in high school, first played together as The Blue Velvets in 1959, and signed to the jazz-based Fantasy Records label in 1964, initially as a singles-oriented Garage Rock act called The Golliwogs. In early 1967, they changed their name to Creedence Clearwater Revival and released their eponymous debut album. (The legend goes that they had a friend named Credence, and added an extra "e" to that; the "Clearwater" portion came from a beer ad.) Their cover of "Suzie Q" received lots of airplay and became their first in a string of Top 40 hits. Other notable songs from their career include "Proud Mary", "Bad Moon Rising", "Green River", "Down on the Corner", "Fortunate Son", "Run Through the Jungle", "Travelin' Band", "Lookin' Out My Back Door", and "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?".

Tom Fogerty quit in 1971, and the band broke up in 1972. They reunited in 1980 and 1983, though Clifford and Cook eventually founded Creedence Clearwater Revisited. John Fogerty started a solo career and eventually got sued for plagiarizing CCR because of a crooked deal he had inadvertently signed with Fantasy Records owner Saul Zaentz. He won the lawsuit,sidenote  and in 2007, he re-signed with Fantasy after the label's new owner reinstated his royalty payments for CCR's music. The bad blood between Fogerty, Cook, and Clifford persists, however; when CCR was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, Fogerty used his cachet to forbid Clifford and Cook from taking part in the live medley played by all of that year's inductees.

Tom died from AIDS (which he received from a blood transfusion during a back operation) in 1990. John has been a strong AIDS activist since.

In 2015, John Fogerty released his long-awaited autobiography, Fortunate Son. It goes into detail about what really happened with Creedence, Saul Zaentz, and John's years of musical inactivity.

Principal Members (Founding members in bold):

  • Doug Clifford - drums, percussion, backing and lead vocals, washboard (196772)
  • Stu Cook - bass, backing and lead vocals, guitar, piano, keyboard (196772)
  • John Fogerty - lead vocals, guitar, harmonica, piano, saxophone, keyboard (196772)
  • Tom Fogerty - guitar, vocals (196771; died 1990) note 

Studio and Live Discography:

There's a bad trope on the rise:

  • Album Title Drop:
    • Willy and the Poor Boys is mentioned in "Down on the Corner".
    • The Title Track from Green River.
  • Alien Invasion: "It Came Out of the Sky".
  • Always Second Best: They hold the record for most number-two singles on the Billboard Hot 100 without reaching the top spot, with five such singles. ** 
    • They did have #1 hits in Billboard's main competitors, Cashbox and Record World. In fact, "Lookin' Out My Back Door" hit #1 on both. They didn't have any others in Cashbox, but "Proud Mary" and "Bad Moon Rising" hit the top in Record World.
    • They fared much better north of the border, with four number one singles.
  • Bad Moon Rising: Their song Bad Moon Rising is the Trope Namer.
"Well don't go 'round tonight
Well it's bound to take your life
There's a bad moon on the rise"
  • The Band Minus the Face: The after-break-up band, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, consisting of Doug Clifford and Stu Cook.
    • Also happened later in their career in a sense. After years of complaints from Cook and Clifford and demands for more of a role in the creative process, the band put out more material allowing Cook and Clifford to sing, write lyrics and carry the load instrumentally, with John Fogerty playing an extremely minimalistic rhythm guitar that faded almost entirely into the background — probably just to demonstrate his importance to the band's success. The resulting material was so heavily panned by critics and fans alike that it is almost entirely forgotten and de-canonized, much like The Doors' post-Jim-Morrison material.
  • Band of Relatives: John and Tom were brothers.
  • Came from the Sky: "It Came Out of the Sky".
  • Control Freak: John Fogerty, by most accounts. Tom Fogerty once said that he felt he was "hip-checked" out of his role as lead singer when John joined the band.
  • Cool Old Guy: As of May 28, 2022, John is 77, and has been recording kick-ass rock songs for 53 years, almost 63 if you count CCR's time as the Golliwogs and Blue Velvets. His voice has also hardly changed at all, meaning he still sounds as good now as he did as a young man.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Saul Zaentz. The sheer amount of hell he put John Fogerty through for decades is mind-boggling.
  • The Cover Changes the Meaning: "Suzie Q" was originally written and performed by Dale Hawkins as a straightforward rockabilly number. Fogerty's version makes the song much edgier and takes it into Yandere territory.
  • Cover Version: Each of their albums except Pendulum contained at least one, usually of a '50s rock & roll or blues song.
  • Descent into Darkness Song: An instrumental example, "Rude Awakening No. 2", starts out mellow but becomes more and more spooky as the song goes on.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The early Golliwogs recordings don't sound anything like CCR.
  • Epic Rocking: Most of their albums had one or two songs over six minutes in length, often serving as extended jams. Examples include "Susie Q" (8:39) and "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" (11:05), both of which were drastically edited down for single release. Then, very long album tracks by the band include "Effigy", "Graveyard Train", "Ramble Tamble" and, above all, "Keep on Chooglin'", a popular jam rock track that was extended even to 10 min live - and the album version almost lasts 8 min - and became a staple even in Fogerty's solo concerts.
  • Greatest Hits Album: Several, most notably the 8x Platinum Chronicle, Vol. 1 (which is the biggest seller in their catalog).
  • I Am the Band: John Fogerty sang, played all the exciting guitar parts, and wrote all the songs. Eventually Tom got so fed up with his dominance that he quit. The rest of the members quit one album later.
    • This was subverted when CCR recorded 1972's Mardi Gras, as John Fogerty wanted each of the three remaining members to contribute equally to the album. In reality, Doug Clifford and Stu Cook were both reluctant to contribute much more than they usually would, and only relented to the idea when Fogerty threatened to quit. This move was largely seen as an attempt on Fogerty's part to make Clifford and Cook look like inferior musicians, and to reinforce this point, he didn't contribute to any of their songs on the album.
    • John Fogerty states in his autobiography that the opposite was actually the case. Stu and Doug were insistent that they get songs to write and sing, and John relented after getting tired of them constantly complaining it. When the songs and album were unsurprisingly panned, Cook and Clifford blamed everything on John, and what you got was the story in the above paragraph.
  • Live Album: Live in Europe (1973), The Concert (1980).
  • Long-Runner Line-up: Despite changing names, the band was John, Tom, Stu, and Doug from 1959 to 1971 and qualifies as Type 1.
  • Longest Song Goes Last: Willy and the Poor Boys closes with "Effigy", which is 6 minutes and 26 seconds long.
  • No Indoor Voice: One of their steady venues back when they started didn't have a PA system, so Fogerty learned to sing very loud. Most of their uptempo songs have him more or less screaming his head off.
  • Non-Appearing Title:
    • "Porterville" (you can be forgiven for thinking it's called "I Don't Care").
    • "Fortunate Son" just barely averts this, as John Fogerty sings "I ain't no fortunate son" right before the fade-out. It's played straight in the version he recorded with Foo Fighters, though.
  • The Not-Remix: "Porterville" on the debut album was originally released as a single a few months before they did the album, and was recorded in mono. To give the impression of being in stereo for the album version, they simply took the mono mix, added handclaps and maracas, and panned them over to the left channel.
  • Nothing but Hits: If there's an Establishing Shot Montage of The Vietnam War anywhere, odds are 50% "Fortunate Son" will be the music it's set to. (The other 50% is, of course, Jimi Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower".)
  • Pen Name: The "Porterville"/"Call It Pretending" single, which was simultaneously the final Golliwogs release and the first Creedence Clearwater Revival release,explanation  gave songwriting credit on both sides to someone named T. Spicebush Swallowtail. This was a collective pseudonym for the whole band (a spicebush swallowtail is a type of butterfly; amateur entomologist Doug Clifford suggested it), but it was quickly dropped after John Fogerty assumed the role of lead songwriter.
  • Protest Song: "Fortunate Son", "Who'll Stop the Rain", and others. "Wrote a Song For Everyone" invokes this trope, as it's about someone trying to write a protest song.
  • Read the Fine Print: The story of Fogerty and Saul Zaentz.
  • Repurposed Pop Song:
    • The first line of "Fortunate Son" was re-used, out of context, in a commercial for Wrangler jeans. That was Zaentz's fault — Fogerty noted that Wrangler eventually bothered to find out he wasn't happy about it and stopped doing it.
    • The use of CCR songs in commercials starting in The '80s (like Thompson's Water Seal using "Who'll Stop the Rain") without John's permission was a major factor in his final falling out with his ex-bandmates (since they basically authorized Zaentz to start licensing their catalogue).
  • Rock-Star Song:
    • "Travelin' Band".
    • "Lodi" is a subversion: The main character is an up-and-coming rock singer who was told he was "on his way" by a man from a magazine. He took a gig out in Lodi, intending to just stay there for one night and move on, but his career stalled out after that and he ended up stuck in town, playing in dive bars just in the hope of making enough money to get a train ticket home. In other words, a wannabe Rock-Star Song.
  • Self-Plagiarism: John Fogerty certainly has a Signature Style, right down to specific chords and riffs he favors. But he also has the distinction of having been sued for self-plagiarism, when Fantasy Records took him to trial for the similarity between "Run Through the Jungle" and his solo hit "The Old Man Down the Road". The jury ruled for Fogerty, but the case ended up going all the way to the Supreme Court when Fogerty tried to collect attorneys' fees from Fantasy. Fogerty also won there (by a 9-0 decision), establishing a precedent for victorious defendants in lawsuits to fairly collect fees from plaintiffs.
  • Self-Titled Album: Their debut album.
  • Siamese Twin Songs: Though never released off of Willy and the Poor Boys, "Poorboy Shuffle" fades out as "Feelin' Blue" fades in, making them practically inseparable.
  • Soldiers at the Rear: The title character of "Fortunate Son".
  • A Storm Is Coming: Weather phenomena as a direct sign of looming or current doom is repeatedly used in "Bad Moon Rising", and in a more oblique way in "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" and "Who'll Stop the Rain".
  • Take That!: John Fogerty's 1985 solo album Centerfield contained a song originally called "Zanz Kant Danz", which contained the lyric "Zanz can't dance, but he'll steal your money." Unsurprisingly, Saul Zaentz was not amused, and threatened to sue Fogerty for defamation until the song was re-recorded as "Vanz Kant Danz".
  • Three Chords and the Truth: Most of their songs have just three chords. "Fortunate Son" has four, while "Feelin' Blue" simply alternates between D and D7.
  • Urban Legend: "Fortunate Son" is often claimed to be about a modern figure whose father was a Vietnam-era politician, such as Al Gore or George W. Bush. However, Fogerty himself stated that the song was inspired by David Eisenhower, who was both the son-in-law of Richard Nixon and the grandson of Dwight D. Eisenhower.
  • We Used to Be Friends: CCR's breakup was one of the most acrimonious in rock history. Tom Fogerty still hadn't patched things up with his brother and other bandmates at the time of his AIDS-related death in 1990, and three years later John Fogerty refused to perform with Cook and Clifford at the group's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony; John actually assembled a completely different band (including Bruce Springsteen and Robbie Robertson) for the performance without telling anyone, and when Stu, Doug and their families found out, they all stormed out in anger. Even John's own relatives — the family of his late brother Tom Fogerty — were pissed off by the move. Evidently the rift between John and Stu / Doug still exists to this day.
    • According to John's book, the death knell for his relationship with Stu and Doug occurred in 1988 when they sold their voting rights in CCR to Saul Zaentz for a quick buck behind John's back (up until then his relationship with them was distant and strained, but he still considered them his bandmates). He also states that he told Stu, Doug, and the Hall of Fame in advance that he wasn't going to play with them, and that their outraged reactions after the performance were fake (well, theirs were anyway. Their family's reactions were real).