John Fogerty is up there with Ray Davies of the Kinks and The Byrds’ Roger McGuinn as one of the more underrated musicians in rock history. Fogerty has written a slew of hits as the leader of Creedence Clearwater Revival and as a solo artist, but the recording artist who was born in Berkeley – not the bayou – is relatively under the radar.
While some of Fogerty’s peers are headlining stadiums and arenas, the roots rocker primarily plays theaters and sheds. Regardless, Fogerty, 77, is well worth catching.
Fogerty, who will perform Friday at Northern Quest Resort & Casino, is a seminal fixture who has enjoyed a storied career.
The anthemic “Proud Mary,” the fiery “Fortunate Son” and the swampy “Green River” were hits for CCR. And then there are the solo smashes, such as the muscular “Old Man Down the Road” and the clever paean to baseball “Centerfield.”
Fogerty’s salute to Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays and a number of other iconic baseball players was his first chart-topper. CCR, had nine top 10 hits from 1968 to 1972 and eight gold albums, and had five songs peak at No. 2 on the charts.
Fogerty’s tip of the cap to an innocent age and his favorite game still resonates today and is heard at ballparks throughout America.
“That’s a funny thing when something like that happens,” Fogerty said during a call from Los Angeles. “You never know when that’s going to happen, but I’ve had a few songs that have stuck around.”
That’s an understatement. There are a number of CCR originals (“Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” “Bad Moon Rising), covers with unique arrangements (“Suzie Q” and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”) and solo material (“Rock and Roll Girls,” “Gunslinger”) that stand the test of time.
The Rock & Roll Hall of Famer has had a terrific run, but Fogerty suffered a decadelong funk after CCR splintered. Fogerty recorded and toured as a solo artist but failed to play the CCR chestnuts during the ‘80s because of a rift with Fantasy Records CEO Saul Zaentz.
Fantasy owns the distribution and publishing rights to CCR Tunes. Zaentz once sued Fogerty for $140 million for plagiarizing himself. Zaentz lost the suit, but Fogerty didn’t want to play the CCR songs because it would ultimately benefit Zaentz.
It was painful watching Fogerty perform during those ‘80s shows. It was evident what was missing from those performances since he avoided playing some of his most brilliant material. However, a generation ago Fogerty decided to re-embrace the CCR hits, and it has served the Grammy Award winner well.
“It’s just something that I had to get over,” Fogerty said. “I had to take the power back. I felt so good when I started playing those songs live again. When I’m in good spirits, I tend to write a lot. I’ve had some periods when I was in a funk, but fortunately I’ve been in good spirits for most of my life and with that came a lot of songs.”
Fogerty continues to be productive. During pandemic lockdown in 2020, a family project was crafted. “Fogerty’s Factory,” which dropped in November 2020, features Fogerty and his three youngest children – Kelsy, Shane and Tyler – jamming on CCR favorites, solo hits, deep cuts and a few classic covers.
“I still make and record music because I love it,” Fogerty said. “There’s nothing I would rather do than write, record and tour.”
It’s been evident in recent years that Fogerty is enjoying live performance. While experiencing Fogerty perform with the Sound City Players during the last of the supergroup’s eight shows in 2013 at South By Southwest in Austin, Fogerty was grinning ear to ear as he closed the two-hour plus set with seven of his songs.
“That was the greatest playing with (Sound City documentarian and Foo Fighter) Dave (Grohl) and everyone who was part of that,” Fogerty said. “But this is why I love doing this. I get such great joy from performing. Why should I stop doing it?”
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