Before their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, before their record sales surpassed 26 million in the United States alone, and before they became the only group in Billboard's history to receive the most #2 singles without ever having placed at #1, Creedence Clearwater Revival was a band of high school friends from El Cerrito, California.
It all started in 1964. Then performing under the name the Blue Velvets, lead vocalist, guitarist, and primary lyricist John Fogerty , John's brother and rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty, bassist Stu Cook, and drummer Doug Clifford, were noticed by (then nascent) Fantasy Records. Signed and urged to change their name, so Fantasy owner, Max Weiss, could capitalize on the growing trend of British bands with two-word names, the Blue Velvets soon became the Golliwogs. But after Fantasy Records was purchased by Saul Zaentz in 1967, Fogerty, Fogerty, Cook, and Clifford finally choose a name they'd stick with: Creedence Clearwater Revival. Taken from Tom Fogerty's buddy, Creedence Nuball, an ad for Olympia beer that claimed to be "clear water," and the group's renewed commitment to make music together (after John Fogerty and Doug Clifford returned upon completing their service in the military), Creedence Clearwater Revival took their name a year before their debut album was released.
Creedence Clearwater Revival, released in 1968, gained accolades and a large following with the emerging countercultural press. Featuring a remake of the rockabilly "Susie Q," a cover of Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put a Spell On You," and five songs penned by John Fogerty and gang, Creedence Clearwater Revival became a favorite of radio stations in the San Francisco Bay Area and on Chicago's WLS. "Susie Q," Creedence Clearwater's first hit to penetrate the Top 40, rose to #11 in the U.S. and still remains CCR's only Top 40 hit that wasn't written by John Fogerty. But CCR was still struggling to find their own sound, and America could not claim intimacy with Creedence Clearwater until they released their second album, Bayou Country.
Recorded at RCA Studios in Los Angeles, Bayou Country (1969) easily contains Creedence Clearwater Revival's most recognizable hits. Ultimately becoming a #7 platinum hit, Bayou Country features tracks such as "Proud Mary," "Born on the Bayou," "Graveyard Train," and their familiar show-closing "Keep On Chooglin." Creedence Clearwater Revival continued their swamp rock sound on what would be their next album, Green River. Released only weeks after Bayou Country, CCR's third album remained within the genres of rhythm and blues rock with a country twang. Green River contains southern rock ballads like "Bad Moon Rising," "Lodi," "Commotion," and, of course, "Green River." Then, a few weeks later, they released their fourth album, Willy and the Poor Boys.
Placing at CCR's third Top Ten album of 1969, Willy and the Poor Boys followed the formula of Creedence Clearwater Revival's first three albums with its mix of original and cover songs. Featuring two reworked Leadbelly covers, "Cotton Fields" and "Midnight Special," and Fogerty-penned songs, "Down on the Corner" and "Fortunate Son," Willy and the Poor Boys would go on to be one of the last Creedence Clearwater Revival albums to receive positive reviews from music critics.
Tensions between the Fogerty brothers peaked in 1971 when Tom Fogerty left Creedence Clearwater Revival. Shortly after Tom Fogerty's departure, CCR officially disbanded in October of 1972, following the release of their last album Mardi Gras. Cook and Clifford decided not to remain in CCR without Tom Fogerty and continued to be in close contact with him until he lost his life to AIDS in September of 1990.
It has been said, John Fogerty's domineering character was the cause of CCR's disbanding and, not surprisingly, Cook and Clifford continued to make music together while John Fogerty embarked on a solo career. Fogerty, who won a Grammy in 1997 for his fifth solo album, Blue Moon Swamp (1997), still tours frequently. Cook and Clifford, who formed Creedence Clearwater Revisited in 1995, toured throughout North America in '09.