John Fogerty, Doug Clifford, and Stu Cook (all born in 1945) met at Portola Junior High School in
El Cerrito, California. Calling themselves The Blue Velvets, the trio began playing instrumentals and "juke
box standards", as well as backing Fogerty's older brother Tom at live gigs and in the recording studio. Tom
soon joined the band, and in 1964 they signed with Fantasy Records, an independent jazz label in San Francisco
that had released Cast Your Fate to the Wind, a national hit for jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi. The record's
success was the subject of a National Educational Television special, which prompted budding songwriter John
Fogerty to contact the label. For the band's first release, Fantasy co-owner Max Weiss renamed the group the
Golliwogs (after the children's literary character, Golliwogg).
Band roles changed during this period. Stu Cook switched from
piano to bass guitar and Tom Fogerty from lead vocals to rhythm guitar; John became the band's lead vocalist and
primary songwriter. In Tom Fogerty's words: "I could sing, but John had a sound!"
In 1966, John Fogerty and Doug Clifford, having received draft
notices, enlisted in the military. Fogerty joined the Army Reserve while Clifford joined the United States Coast
Guard Reserve after receiving draft notices.
In 1967, Saul Zaentz bought Fantasy Records and offered the band a
chance to record a full-length album on the condition that they change their name. Having never liked "the
Golliwogs," in part because of the racial charge of the name, the four readily agreed. Zaentz and the band agreed
to come up with ten suggestions each, but he enthusiastically agreed to their first: Creedence Clearwater Revival
(CCR), which they took in January, 1968.] According to interviews with band members twenty years later, the name's
three elements come Tom Fogerty's friend Credence Newball, whose name
they changed to form the word Creedence (as in creed); a television commercial for Olympia
beer ("clear water"); 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. “Finally, John put together the three names and we surrendered to the
inevitable,” “A name weirder than Buffalo Springfield or Jefferson Airplane.”
By 1968, John Fogerty and Doug Clifford had been discharged from
military service, and all four members had quit their jobs to begin an intense schedule of rehearsing and playing
full-time at clubs. AM radio programmers around the U.S.A. took note when the song "Susie Q" from
their self-titled debut album received substantial airplay in the San Francisco Bay Area and on Chicago's WLS. A
remake of a 1956 song by rockabilly singer Dale Hawkins, "Susie Q" was the band's second single—its first to reach
the Top 40 (No. 11). It would be CCR's only Top 40 hit not written by John Fogerty. Two other singles from the
debut were released: a cover of Screamin' Jay Hawkins's "I Put a Spell on You" (No. 58) and "Porterville" (released
on the Scorpio label with writing credited to "T. Spicebush Swallowtail"), written during Fogerty's time in the
After their breakthrough, CCR began touring and started work on
their second album, Bayou Country (1969), at RCA Studios in Los Angeles. A No. 7 platinum hit, the record was their
first in a string of hit albums and singles that continued uninterrupted for three years. The single "Proud Mary",
backed with "Born on the Bayou", reached No. 2 on the national Billboard chart. The former would eventually become
the group's most-covered song, with some 100 cover versions by other artists to date, including a hit version in
1971 by Ike & Tina Turner. John Fogerty cites this song as being the result of high spirits on gaining his
discharge from the Army Reserve. The album also featured a remake of the rock & roll classic "Good Golly Miss
Molly" and the band's nine-minute live-show closer, "Keep On Chooglin'".
Weeks later, in March 1969, "Bad Moon Rising" backed with "Lodi"
was released and peaked at No. 2. In the United Kingdom, "Bad Moon Rising" spent three weeks at number one on the
UK Singles Chart during September and October 1969, becoming the band's only number one single in the UK. The
band's third album, Green River, followed in August 1969 and went gold along with the single "Green River", which
again reached No. 2 on the Billboard charts. The B-side of "Green River", "Commotion", peaked at No. 30 and the
band's emphasis on remakes of their old favorites continued with "Night Time Is the Right Time".
CCR continued to tour incessantly with performances at the Atlanta
Pop Festival and Woodstock. Their set was not included in the Woodstock film or soundtrack because John Fogerty
felt the band's performance was subpar. (Several tracks from the event were eventually included in the 1994
commemorative box set.) Stu Cook, however, held an opposing view, saying "The performances are classic CCR and I'm
still amazed by the number of people who don't even know we were one of the headliners at Woodstock '69." John
Fogerty later complained the previous band, the Grateful Dead, put the audience to sleep; as John scanned the
audience he saw a "Dante scene, just bodies from hell, all intertwined and asleep, covered with mud."
After Woodstock, CCR was busy honing material for a fourth album,
Willy and the Poor Boys, released in November 1969. "Down on the Corner" and "Fortunate Son" climbed to
No. 3 and No. 14, respectively, by year's end. The album was CCR in its standard form, featuring Fogerty originals
and two reworked Lead Belly covers, "Cotton Fields" and "Midnight Special". Both of the latter songs had also been
performed by actor Harry Dean Stanton in the movie Cool Hand Luke, suggesting a subtle non-conformist theme to an
apparently tradition-oriented album.
The year 1969 had been a remarkable chart year for the band: three
Top Ten albums, four hit singles (charting at No. 2, No. 2, No. 2, and No. 3) with three additional charting
B-sides. On November 16, 1969, they performed "Fortunate Son" and "Down on the Corner" on The Ed Sullivan
CCR released another two-sided hit, "Travelin' Band"/"Who'll Stop
the Rain" in January 1970. Except for Elvis Presley and The Beatles, Creedence had more success with two sided hit
singles than any band up to that point in time. John Fogerty has said that the flip side was inspired by the band's
experience at Woodstock. The speedy "Travelin' Band", with a strong Little Richard sound, however,
bore enough similarities to "Good Golly, Miss Molly" to warrant a lawsuit by the song's publisher; it was
eventually settled out of court. The song ultimately topped out at No. 2. The band also recorded its January 31,
1970, live performance at the Oakland Coliseum Arena, which would later be marketed as a live album and television
special. In February, CCR was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone, although only John Fogerty was interviewed in
the accompanying article.
In April 1970, CCR was set to begin its first European tour. To
support the upcoming live dates, Fogerty wrote "Up Around the Bend" and "Run Through the Jungle"; the single
reached No. 4 that spring. The band returned to Wally Heider's San Francisco studio in June to record Cosmo's
Factory. The title was an in-joke about their various rehearsal facilities and factory work ethic over the
years. (Drummer Doug Clifford's longtime nickname is "Cosmo", due to his keen interest in nature
and all things cosmic. The album contained the earlier Top 10 hits "Travelin' Band" and "Up Around the Bend" plus
highly popular album tracks such as the opener "Ramble Tamble".
The Cosmo's Factory sessions had seen the stirrings of
tensions within the foursome as the incessant touring and heavy recording schedules took their toll.[citation
needed] John Fogerty had taken complete control of the group in matters of both business and artistic output, to
the chagrin of Tom Fogerty, Cook, and Clifford. Fogerty resisted, feeling that a "democratic" process would
threaten their success. Other issues included Fogerty's decision at a 1970 Nebraska gig that the
band would no longer give encores at its live shows.
Pendulum, released in December 1970, was another top
seller, spawning a Top 10 hit with "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?". John Fogerty included Hammond B3 Organ on many
of the Pendulum tracks, notably "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?", in recognition of the deep respect and influence of
Booker T and The MG's, with whom the members of the band had jammed. The single's flip side, "Hey Tonight", was
also a hit.
Tom Fogerty decided he had had enough of his younger brother and
resigned from CCR in late 1970 during the recording of Pendulum; his departure was made public the following
February. At first, the remaining members considered replacing Tom but ultimately continued as a trio. Tom Fogerty
later stated on an Australian television broadcast that no new member could endure being in CCR.
The band'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" (a song Gene Pitney
had originally written for Ricky Nelson). The album was a critical failure, with Rolling Stone reviewer Jon Landau
deeming it "the worst album I have ever heard from a major rock band." The sales of Mardi Gras were weaker
than previous albums, ultimately peaking at No. 12. Fogerty's "Someday Never Comes", backed with Clifford's
"Tearin' Up the Country", also cracked the U.S. Top 40.
Despite the relatively poor reception of Mardi Gras and
deteriorated relationships among the remaining band members, CCR embarked upon a two-month, 20-date U.S. tour.
However, on October 16, 1972—less than six months after the tour ended—Fantasy Records and the band officially
announced the disbanding of CCR. The band never formally reunited after the break-up, although Cook and Clifford
eventually started the band Creedence Clearwater Revisited.