Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) were:
These four guys from El Cerrito, California made up the late 60s musical phenomenon Creedence Clearwater Revival. There was a period of time you couldn’t turn on the radio for more than a few minutes and not hear CCR. Their unique blend of rock, folk and country was a contrast to the psychedelic sound coming out of San Francisco.
I always thought it odd the boys from Berkley made their name singing songs about the south, Louisiana Bayous, The Mississippi River, and catfish. They were southern rock before there was such a thing and the generation loved it.
In 1964 the band signed with Fantasy Records in 1964 as The Blue Velvets but the label immediately changed the name to The Golliwogs, hoping to mimic the success of the British Invasion. It wasn’t to be and in 1967 Fantasy records changed hands. The new owner, Saul Zaentz, saw the potential but never liked the name Golliwog. He asked the guys to come up with ten suggestions each.
It was their first suggestion that made the cut: Creedence Clearwater Revival.
The band took the three elements from, firstly, Tom Fogerty’s friend Credence Newball, (to whose first name Credence they added an extra ‘e’, making it resemble a faith or creed); secondly, “clear water” from a TV commercial for Olympia beer; and finally “revival”, which spoke to the four members’ renewed commitment to their band. Rejected contenders for the band’s name included ‘Muddy Rabbit’, ‘Gossamer Wump’, and ‘Creedence Nuball and the Ruby’, but the last was the start that led to their finalized name.
The group saw their biggest successes between 1968 and 1970 with the release of a half-dozen stellar albums.
- Creedence Clearwater Revival (1968)
- Bayou Country (1969)
- Green River (1969)
- Willy and the Poor Boys (1969)
- Cosmo’s Factory (1970)
- Pendulum (1970)
There are plenty of successful groups out there with a hit single list of one or two records. CCR had a couple of dozen. They were songs of a generation that still resonate today. Some of my best teen memories are sitting with the headphones wrapped around my skull and CCR songs massaging my eardrums. Great memories.
How many bands besides The Beatles and The Rolling Stones can tout a list of hit singles this long?
Born on the Bayou
Bad Moon Rising
Commotion Fortunate Son
Down on the Corner
Who’ll Stop the Rain
Run Through the Jungle
Up Around the Bend
Long As I Can See the Light
Lookin’ Out My Back Door
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
Someday Never Comes
Tearin’ Up the Country
I Heard It Through the Grapevine
Good Golly, Miss Molly
CCR was one of the bands to play Woodstock but because Fogerty thought the performance was not up to par he chose not to be a part of the initial soundtrack. The performance at 3:00 in the morning went basically unnoticed by festival-goers.
The weight of long recording sessions and touring took a toll on relationships within the band. Tom Fogerty left CCR permanently in the middle of the Pendulum sessions. It was February of 1971. Pendulum released later that year and the band moved on without Tom. (In September 1990, Tom Fogerty died of an AIDS complication, which he contracted via a tainted blood transfusion he received while undergoing back surgery.)
CCR’s final album, Mardi Gras, was released in April 1972, featuring songs written by Fogerty, Cook, and Clifford and a cover of “Hello Mary Lou.” It received mostly poor, even savage reviews: Rolling Stone reviewer Jon Landau called it “the worst album I have ever heard from a major rock band.”
By this point, Fogerty was not only at direct odds with his bandmates, but he had also come to see the group’s relationship with Fantasy Records as onerous, feeling that label owner Saul Zantz had reneged on his promise to give the band a better contract. Cook — who holds a degree in business — claimed that because of poor judgment on Fogerty’s part, Creedence Clearwater Revival had to abide by the worst record deal of any major American recording artist.
On October 16, 1972 – less than six months after the Mardi Gras tour ended – Fantasy Records and the band officially announced the disbanding of Creedence Clearwater Revival.
The journey of discourse and law suits from then to now is a rocky road I won’t bore you with here. Just know that one of the great voices of my generation fell silent because personalities collided with ego and ownership and nobody would budge.
Creedence Clearwater Revival’s music is still a staple of American and worldwide radio airplay. It’s common to hear CCR songs as a movie backdrop. The band sold 26 million albums in the US alone. Creedence Clearwater Revival was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. They are ranked at 82 on Rolling Stone’s 100 greatest artists of all time.