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From El Dominical
Sunday supplement to
EL PERIÓDICO DE CATALUNYA
Catalogne (Spain) leading newspaper
September 14, 1997

Article and Interview by Alberto Guasch
Free translation by Javier Diaz, The River Rising Web
Article forwarded by "Torpedo" Juan Díaz, Santander, España

 

LIFE AFTER CREEDENCE

Of his partners in CCR he doesn't want to hear their names. John feels nothing but bitterness when he talks about what's left (and shouldn't be left) of the group. Now he swims by himself in the quiets waters of his new records Blue Moon Swamp to leave that past behind.

Fogerty has a bad skin condition on his face and dresses like a cowboy, but he doesn't look mean. On the contrary. He seems to be a nice man, somewhat shy. If you run upon him on the street it would be hard to say that this man, approaching 52 and who moves with inner insecurity, is the creator of the most identifying musical repertoire of the America of the highways, the America of the plains and the America that wears boots, jeans and ten gallon hats. Whomever has seen him any day performing full of energy andbeing intensely applauded, and next finds himself in front of him, is struck by the doubt if it is really the same person.

He has a simple manner more befitting a condescending grandfather than a rock star. All his affability and smiles change their goal the moment he sees, arriving to the hotel suite in N.Y., his wife Julie whom he married in 1991 and with whom he has two children. He gives her a kiss, he caresses her hair and listens obeyingly what she explains to his ear without ever ceasing to smile. The reason that moved him to write her a love song - the first ever - called Joy of My Life from the BMS, the recently issued album, is on sight.

"- She is sweet to me. And I feel the luckiest man in the world. Did I tell you you are the joy of my life?" says John in the heartfelt song.

Blue Moon Swamp is the first record by the singer in 11 years, the first, in the unanimous opinion of the critics, where it's worth listening to his voice since he broke with the mythic CCR in 1972.

The name of the band, much to his sorrow, isn't part of his past yet. His incapacity to produce a consistent solo album up to date had led him to unavoidable defeat as soon as some kind of comparison was established. And then, there were his unending legal battles, which roadblocked his creative processes. First against the band's old record company, next, against the group members, who have reunited without their leader to do a tour and play the old hits under a different name: Creedence Clearwater Revisited.

He doesn't talk to them, nor does he want them to talk to him, and it's better not to mention them in his presence. "They sold the rights to my songs to the old record company. "It may sound like a lie, but I'm not the owner of songs like Proud Mary in spite of the fact that I wrote them. They belong now to that Company, who sued me in 1988 because they said a song of my previous album was an exact copy of one of my old songs. I went to trial and I won, but I left a lot of money with the lawyers, maybe more than what the songs themselves made, to tell you the truth."

The former leader of the band hasn't forgiven the other members of Creedence their decision without his consent. Therefore all the infighting.

"After the trial I decided this war was ridiculous and tried to fix things with the Company and with the members of Creedence too. I spent three years trying to reach some kind of agreement, but they didn't want any. In the end, I decided that I'd never speak to them again because they are liars, treacherous, can´t be trusted and, above everything else, very much jealous of me."

The only thing that was missing was for the former members to recur to the name of the band (slightly retouched with Revisited instead of Revival) to finish lighting up Fogerty's bad temper. "I don't mind them playing the old hits. Those are my songs and I'm flattered that they want to sing them. Many bands all over the world play them. What makes me angry is that they exploit the name of the band. That's wrong, because CCR does not exist, it broke in 1972. They only try to fool/cheat people. They didn't write nor sing those songs. So, when people go see them, the only thing they see is the drummer and a bass player. It's as if the drummer and the bass player of Bruce Springsteen decided to hire a guitarist and a singer and called themselves Bruce S. Revisited or something like that."

Fogerty explains that since, in his opinion, his former band mates do not have the right to use the name Creedence Clearwater Revisited, he took legal action to prevent them. A judge granted him reason and put upon the historical members of the band a temporary injunction order. "But they keep on doing it because they are bad people."

He makes a pause and adds: "And there's something else. In concerts they sell T-shirts and use in them the name of the four guys that made up the band. I deserve a fourth of the benefit, no? But they don't give it to me nor will they give it to me."

Fogerty's reasoning and the judge's decision were reversed a while ago by a California Appeals Court which determined that there's no possible confusion between the historical name and the current one. The Revisited version, therefore, can keep on functioning.

The singer traces the origin of the problems with his former partners to the time when the band still held them together. "They were very jealous that I wrote and sang all the songs. For some reason they have been insistent on proving that they can do what I do, but it's proved that they are unable to make a presentable album. I'm the only one who works hard on the music. The only thing they do now is try to get dividends from the Creedence songs" he says without mercy.

The veteran artist justifies his crispation with the fact that he cannot make a decision about where his tunes will appear. "To me this is very important. I don't want to see my songs in any stupid movie. I think Creedence was special. I thought that if we avoided that, one day there would be a special occasion to gather our songs in a compilation box, like The Beatles last year. You saw how they made it to number one in all the world. That'll never happen with Creedence, because they have allowed our music to be used on TV and in movies and for everything else."

Needless to say, John has never ever considered a reunion with the members of Creedence. "They have done and said too many things against me. I tried to fix it up, but what I learned is not to talk again with them. They always want something from me and each time I turn around they stab me in the back. I'm never going to play with them, never, because they are not my friends. They are not honest people."

With Blue Moon Swamp (an album he started recording in 1992 and that finally has been released) Fogerty hopes to erase the weight of the history of Creedence, forget about the bitter tastes and reconduct his solo career: "I spent too much time not knowing what I wanted to do. Neither did I find the right musicians. Now I've found myself. I'm sure this is the best recording I've done solo and, in fact, I think it's better than any of the albums I did with Creedence", he certifies.

Fogerty admits that his previous recordings did not fill his creative expectations. "It comes from a very deceiving personal time and, with time, I realized it was too dark and depressing. It wasn't pleasant to listen." But when he speaks about Blue Moon Swamp he uses another tone of voice. "I wanted it to be really good. And now that I have it in my hands, I know what it is" he says, thumping his chest. "I needed to prove something" he adds. "Since CCR broke, everybody said about me: ‘John was very good. What became of him?' But I knew that I had nothing so wonderful and that, because of that, I couldn't go out on tour except as an old glory. Now I can go out and play Blueboy or Southern Streamline from the last CD, sing Proud Mary and say: ‘can you see? All this is good too."

The Tour he wanted so much will last a year and a half, he'll travel throughout the world and will stop in Spain, although the dates and places are not known. "I've learned, finally, to trust myself. To say to myself: ‘John, listen to your music, do that kind of songs.' And I feel I'm stronger than ever, that I know what I must be" he confides. Fogerty did in the U.S.A.before the summer a small tour of nine shows to introduce the album, a preview of what'll be the big tour. In his concerts he intermingles Creedence songs with tunes from his solo crop. Let no one expect previously unreleased   rarities. In his opinion, if a tune hasn't been released it's because it's not good enough and no one ought to listen to it. So he destroys all the sessions and the songs that doesn't convince him. His pride is that big.

"I save nothing. If it's not good, I'm not going to want to listen to it. I destroy it. It's an old habit of mine. Look what happened to Buddy Holly and Jimi Hendrix: they have released [now] all they could find. Every artist has albums and songs that are not good. And I don't want that to be heard. Imagine if I hadn't destroyed all my material when I was with Creedence. Those guys, you can be sure of that, would be selling it already. They even did it with the material from our beginnings, from when we were kids"

 

 

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