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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Fogerty still celebrates Creedence Clearwater Revival songs

May 25, 2023 Updated Thu., May 25, 2023 at 3:54 p.m.

John Fogerty performs at the 2017 Starkey Hearing Foundation So the World May Hear Awards Gala on July 16, 2017, in St. Paul, Minnesota.  (Tribune News Service)
John Fogerty performs at the 2017 Starkey Hearing Foundation So the World May Hear Awards Gala on July 16, 2017, in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Tribune News Service)
By Ed Condran For The Spokesman-Review

Creedence Clearwater Revival’s brilliance was short-lived. However, the band who resided just north of Berkeley, not the Bayou, and reigned from 1968-1972, released a number of exceptional albums, which were filled with hits that still sound fresh today.

The urgent Vietnam anthem “Fortunate Son,” the anthemic “Travelin’ Band” and the charming shuffle of “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” are just some of the many classics penned by singer-songwriter John Fogerty.

CCR sold more records than the Beatles in 1969. The band had an incredible seven Top 5 singles and five Top 10 albums, two of those albums hit the top of the charts in just more than two years. But CCR’s end was abrupt.

Like many young recording artists who emerged during the late ‘60s, Fogerty signed a terrible contract. Since Fantasy Records owns and controls the rights to CCR material, Fogerty refused to play the iconic songs he crafted.

While experiencing Fogerty during the mid-80s, it was evident how much it bothered him not to play tunes he created for a fan base, who crave those songs.

Fogerty, who will turn 78 Sunday, finally decided to just play the tunes during the ‘90s and not worry about anything else. “It’s just something that I had to get over,” Fogerty said. “I had to take the power back … I had to forget about that situation. I needed to start playing those songs again. I felt better after I did. I really enjoy playing those (CCR) songs. It makes sense that I loved playing them so much because they’re my songs and they struck some sort of nerve with people. The people enjoy hearing me play those songs and I love playing them.”

It’s been more than a quarter century since Fogerty decided to incorporate the Creedence canon with his solo material. It makes it difficult for Fogerty to put together a set list. “But that’s a good problem to have,” Fogerty said. “I’m lucky I have so many songs to draw from.”

Fogerty’s paean to baseball and Jackie Robinson, “Centerfield,” the playful “Rock and Roll Girls,” and the muscular “Old Man Down the Road” are just some of his solo hits that have charted.

“It’s been a good run,” Fogerty said. The run continues as Fogerty is currently on a tour through the United Kingdom. Fogerty is ecstatic since he recently acquired the rights to his CCR songs. More than a half-century has passed since the songs were written but Fogerty finally possesses what he created.

Fogerty acquired a majority interest in the global publishing rights to his song catalog with CCR in January from Concord Records. It helped that Saul Zaentz, the owner of Fantasy Records who was a perpetual thorn in Fogerty’s side, died in 2014.

Zaentz would occasionally negotiate with Fogerty but never came close to cutting a deal. An agreement was reached in 1989, but, according to Fogerty, Zaentz doubled the price at the negotiating table and talks ended.

But it worked out in the end for Fogerty. While some publishing rights would have reverted back to Fogerty under U.S. copyright law’s 56-year rule, Fogerty and his wife/manager Julie Fogerty decided to obtain as many of the rights as they could.

Fogerty enjoys playing his songs without the weight that took years away from him creatively.

“If you write the songs, you should own the songs,” Fogerty said. “But what’s most important is that the songs I wrote so long ago still touch people. It’s magical when I get up onstage and I watch people singing along to what I created.”

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