John Fogerty - The 1993 Rolling Stone Interview - Part One of Three

[NOTE: Creedence Clearwater Revival was one of the 1993 Rock& Roll Hall of Fame inductees. The other bands, performers and music personalities that year were Cream, The Doors, Sly and the Family Stone, Etta James, Van Morrison, Dinah Washington, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, Milt Gabler, and Dick Clark. On that occasion Rolling Stone magazine ran this four page interview of John Fogerty in its issue 649 of February 4th, 1993. The cover of the magazine ran a big headline "JOHN FOGERTY Creedence Clearwater Remembered". JD]


by Michael Goldberg
From Rolling Stone magazine, 1993

"IN 1968 I ALWAYS USED TO SAY that I wanted to make records they would still play on the radio in ten years" says former Creedence Clearwater Revival leader John Fogerty as he sits in a Los Angeles recording studio where he is working on a forthcoming solo album. Fogerty got his wish and plenty more. This year Creedence Clearwater Revival is being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. "It's quite an honor"' he says proudly. "I equate Hall of Fame things with baseball, and since I was a little kid, the people in the Baseball Hall of Fame have been my idols. The fact that they now have a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is pretty cool. Being in the same club, you might say, with Elvis, Booker T. and the MGS and, of course, the Beatles is awesome." Like the other members of that club, Creedence continues to be a vital influence on generation after generation of rock & rollers. Many of the group's classic songs - including "Proud Mary" "Born on the Bayou," "Fortunate Son"' "Green River" and "Run Through the Jungle" - are staples of a number of different rock-radio formats as well as of bar-band repertoires everywhere. U2, Def Leppard and Bruce Springsteen have all acknowledged a debt to Creedence, covering Fogerty's songs in concert and, in U2's case, on record. Feedback-guitar heroes Sonic Youth even named one of their albums, Bad Moon Rising, after a Fogerty composition. "Gee, this is kind of what the Colonel had in mind when he took Elvis off the road, right?" laughs Fogerty, who has only toured once since Creedence broke up in 1972. "For me personally, it's just neat that it lives on." Fogerty was just fourteen when he formed the Blue Velvets, a mostly instrumental band, with two junior-high schoolmates, drummer Doug Clifford and bassist Stu Cock In 1964, Fogerty's older brother Tom started joining them in the recording studio and by the end of 1965, was performing with them at clubs as the group's rhythm guitarist. Renamed the Golliwogs by a fantasy records executive who didn't tell them about the name change until it appeared on their first single, the quarter scored a regional hit with an original song, "Brown-Eyed Girl"' which sounded like a slowed-down version of Them's "Gloria."

Like their sappy name, the Golliwogs' singles were uninspired derivations of British Invasion smashes. Realizing a change was needed, the group became Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1967 and started emphasizing a rootsier sound. Creedence scored its first hit in the fall of 1968 with a reworking of Dale Hawkins's "Suzie Q." With the exception of that debut single, Fogerty wrote all of Creedence's fourteen hit records. He was also singer, lead guitarist, producer and arranger of nearly everything that appeared on Creedence's seven studio albums.

Creedence broke up in 1972, after which Fogerty pretty much dropped out of sight. He released an unsuccessful solo album, John Fogerty, in 1975, but for most of those years, a variety of music-business problems, some involving Fantasy Records, the company Creedence recorded for, made it impossible for him to create new music. Fogerty finally emerged in 1985 with a Top Ten hit, "The Old Man Down the Road"' and the multiplatinum album Centerfield.

Fogerty toured as a solo artist for the first time after the release of the follow-up, Eye of the Zombie, but refused to perform any of his old Creedence songs because of his continuing legal battles with Fantasy. More recently, however, Fogerty has started performing the old songs at a handful of special events, including a 1987 benefit for Vietnam vets and a 1991 memorial for Bill Graham.

As anyone who remembers Creedence's heyday will tell you, it's about time.

When did you first decide to become a musician?

I remember as early as 1953, when I was about eight years old, that I was going to name my group Johnny Corvette and the Corvettes. I know it was '53 'cause the corvette was brand new. I had already made a choice: I was thinking about making a career out of music. It was pretty vague. I didn't know if we were singing doe-wop or what, but the imagery of the Corvette - I was pretty psyched on that. And, of course, I was Johnny Corvette. Somehow I was the leader already. Pretty funny.




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