John Fogerty was only 14 years old when he formed The Blue Velvets, a mostly instrumental band, with two Portola Junior High school friends – drummer Doug Clifford and bassist Stu Cook.
In 1964, Fogerty’s older brother Tom started joining them and by the end of 1965, was performing with them as the group’s rhythm guitarist.
Renamed The Golliwogs by a Fantasy Records executive (Hy Weiss) who didn’t tell them about the name change until it appeared on their first single (Don’t Tell Me No Lies) the quartet scored a regional hit with an original song, Brown-Eyed Girl, which sounded like a slowed-down version of Gloria by Them.
Like their sappy name, The Golliwogs’ singles were uninspired derivations of British Invasion smashes. Realising a change was needed, the group became Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1967 – after toying with names including Gossamer Wump – and started emphasising a rootsier sound.
Their cover version of Dale Hawkins‘ Suzie Q furnished them with their first hit, and leader John Fogerty soon revealed himself to be an exceptional writer – With the exception of that debut single, Fogerty wrote all of Creedence’s 14 hit records.
He was also singer, lead guitarist, producer and arranger of nearly everything that appeared on Creedence’s seven studio albums and a run of chart hits including Proud Mary, Bad Moon Rising, Down On The Corner, Who’ll Stop The Rain?, Up Around The Bend, Run Through The Jungle, Lookin’ Out My Back Door, Have You Ever Seen The Rain and I Heard It Through The Grapevine.
In 1969 and 1970, Creedence Clearwater Revival was the most popular group in America. In 1969 they played at Woodstock and, although they declined to be included in the film, they were allegedly the second-highest-paid act after Hendrix.
Green River (1969) and Cosmo’s Factory (1971) were the biggest of five platinum albums, and their watertight formula seemed inexhaustible until they elected to pack up while they were still on top in late 1972.
Tom Fogerty unexpectedly quit the group in January 1971, frustrated by what he described as his brother’s ‘complete domination’ of the group. He had also just turned 29 and felt touring separated him from his family.
John Fogerty’s subsequent seclusion was broken by occasional solo albums. He finally emerged in 1985 with a Top Ten hit, The Old Man Down The Road, and the multi-platinum album, Centerfield.
Tom Fogerty died on 6 September 1990 from respiratory failure due to tuberculosis. He was 48. Fogerty had been hospitalised since becoming ill in August but spent his last few weeks at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Three years later, in 1993, John and the remaining members of Creedence were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
The cover shot for Cosmo’s Factory was taken in the band’s warehouse/office/rehearsal space at 1230 Fifth Street, Berkeley – a place they had dubbed ‘Cosmo’s Factory’.
Doug ‘Cosmo’ Clifford