John Fogerty was born on May 28, 1945, in Berkley, California. Young Fogerty was inspired by early rock and roll pioneers such as Little Richard and Bo Diddley. In the late 50s, John and his brother Tom teamed up with drummer Doug Clifford and bass player Stu Cook to form the band Tommy Fogerty and the Blue Velvets. The band renamed itself the Golliwogs when they signed with Fantasy Records in 1965. As the Golliwogs, the band released a few singles, but they failed make an impact.
Fogerty joined an Army reserve unit in 1966 after almost being drafted. He served stints at Fort Bragg, Fort Knox and Fort Lee. Upon his discharge in July 1967, the Golliwogs changed their name to Creedence Clearwater Revival. In the late 60s, things began to pick up for the band. They released their debut album, the self titled, “Creedence Clearwater Revival” in 1968. The album contained their first hit single, “Suzy Q”. Creedence Clearwater Revival had a relatively short run before John’s insistance that his musical opinions should count more than those of the other members led to the breakup of the band. His brother Tom left first, in 1971, leading John to tell remaining members Stud and Doug that they could share equal songwriting and vocal time on the next album. Stu and Doug were glad to be offered songwriting time, but felt that Creedence fans would not accept their vocals as a Creedence Clearwater Revival album. John gave them an ultimatum to sing or disband, saying “My voice is a unique instrument, and I will not lend it to your songs.” The band reluctantly agreed, but as they predicted, the resulting album, “Mardi Gras”, was not well received and the band split up.
In Fogerty’s first attempt at a solo record, he recorded under the name The Blue Ridge Rangers, and released an album with the same name. On the album, a collection of bluegrass and early country covers, Fogerty plays all of the instruments. Fogerty released a few solo rock albums in the 70s but apart from the top 40 single, “Rockin’ All Over the World”, failed to achieve any real commercial success. He recorded an album in 1976 called “Hoodoo”, but did not feel the album lived up to his standards. His label at the time, Asylum Records, agreed and the album went unreleased. In the 80s, Fogerty told Asylum to destroy the master tapes for Hoodoo.
Fogerty took a brief hiatus, feeling unable to write music, but emerged with a vengeance in 1985, with the release of “Centerfield”. The album was his first release for Warner Brothers and went to the top of the charts. The track, “The Old Man Down The Road”, was a top ten hit and the title track still gets airplay on classic rock stations and at baseball games. The album brought about a bit of legal trouble for Fogerty, though. First, his former boss at Fantasy Records, Saul Zaentz, claimed that the track “Zantz Kant Danz” was a personal attack on him, leading Fogerty to change the song. The second lawsuit claimed that “The Old Man Down the Road” violated the copyrights to Creedence Clearwater Revival song, “Run Through the Jungle”. Fogerty won the case, which many viewed as frivolous since Fogerty was being sued for plagiarizing himself.
Fogerty released a followup album in 1986, called “Eye of the Zombie”. During this stage of his career, Fogerty refused to play any songs from his old band. He changed his mind, however, when he performed at a concert for Vietnam vets in 1987.
In 1990, John’s brother Tom died after contracting AIDS following a blood transfusion. The brothers were not on speaking terms at the time, having had disagreements in a royalties dispute with their old record label. He was also still not on speaking terms with the other CCR bandmates, which was illustrated best when the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame in 1993. Fogerty refused to play with Doug and Stu during the musical portion of the show and instead used session players.
In 1997, John made a second comeback with the release of “Blue Moon Swamp”. The album was a huge commercial success and won a grammy for Best Rock Album that year. The album was followed up with “Premonition”, a live album recorded during a tour, which contained songs from Fogerty’s past solo albums and his Creedence Clearwater Revival days. His next studio album didn’t come out until 2004’s, “Deja Vu (All Over Again)”.
Fogerty saw commercial success again in 2007, when he released his album, “Revival”. The album went to number 14 on the Billboard charts and was nominated for Best Rock Album in the 2008 Grammys, but lost to the Foo Fighters. His followup album, “The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again”, features a duet with Bruce Springsteen on a cover of the 1960s Everly Brothers song, “When Will I Be Loved?”.