Lean, Clean and Bluesy
Unlike many rock groups today, the Creedence Clearwater Revival is not much interested
in talking up a revolution.Its four clean-cut, plaid-shirted members prefer to sing songs
about where they came from and about problems among people, not social movements. As
performers, they come on with a simple, bluesy, rhythmic, straight- ahead sound. That's
not bad. San Francisco-based Creedence is riding the crest of today's strongest pop wave
-blues-oriented rock. The group's first single, Susie Q., rose to No. 11 on the Billboard
charts last fall. Proud Mary was hit No. 2 in March, and the group's latest
single, Bad Moon Rising, rose this week from No.3 to No.2. At recent concert dates,
Creedence has been packing the crowds in with its lean, masculine sound, impeccable
instrumental style and express-track delivery.
How the boys chose the name for their group tells much about them. Lead Singer John
Fogerty, who writes most of their material, got his musical inspiration from Chuck Berry
and Bo Diddley records. He learned chords from a Burl Ives songbook. Doug Clifford didn't
even know how to play drums when John invited him to join. He converted a pair of old pool
cues into drumsticks on a school lathe, bought a snare drum and began practicing. That was
a decade ago, when they were 13 and schoolboys in suburban El Cerrito, Calif. With Stu
Cook on piano and John's brother Tom on bass guitar, they began as the Blue Velvets,
complete with greasy hair, ducktails and matching outfits. Their stuff, as John admits
now, was "pure drivel." Then they became The Golliwogs because their manager at
the time thought they needed a Beatle-ish name.
When John came out of the Army in June 1967, they practiced together for six months and
pooled their resources. Early last year they were ready for a new career and a new name:
Creedence (a blend of creed and credence, indicating their belief in themselves)
Clearwater ("Something deep, true and pure, through which the light always
shines," says John), and Revival (symbolizing their new direction).
That they play the blues is no accident. John grew up in an atmosphere of constant
family fights; when he was nine, his father left home for good. "I was always
ashamed," John recalls. "I never brought my friends home. My room was in the
basement - cement floor, cement walls. I just grabbed music and withdrew." Some of
that anguish comes out in John's song Porterville, which he belts out with a
soulful Negroid delivery:
They came and took my dad away,
to serve some time,
But it was me that paid the debt
He left behind.
Folks said I was full of sin
Because 1 was the next of kin.
The inspiration for The Working Man came from outside jobs the boys had to
take while The band was floundering:
I was born on a Sunday
By Thursday I had me a job
Don't take me On Friday
'Cause that's when I get paid
Let me die on Saturday night
Before Sunday gets my head.
A year ago, they were making only $30 a night from occasional club dates in the Bay
Area. These days they get as much as $30,000 a night; all of it goes into a communal
kitty. Now and then one of them buys a color TV set, but mostly they are socking away
their new wealth and trying not to think too much about it least it give them high-flown
ideas. "'I see things through lower-class eyes," says John. "If you sit
around and think about all that money, you can never write a song about where you came
The photo caption reads
"CREEDENCE AT MANHATTAN'S FILLMORE EAST
The name tells the story"