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Creedence Clearwater Revival is a quintessential band from the classic rock era. You don’t have to be a connoisseur of the genre to know one of the band’s many hits.
Believe it or not, with all their hits, Creedence Clearwater Revival gained all of their success in only four meager years before they disbanded. This is pretty unbelievable, considering the band recorded seven studio albums and had over 15 hit singles during that time.
The band was known for their unique sound along with their moving strong lyrics — a few of their songs outwardly protested the war going on during their time in the spotlight. In their short time of fame, the band encountered legal drama, clashing egos, and quite a few name changes, but still continued to top the charts hit after hit.
Creedence Clearwater Revival never gained a number one hit, but the band had many hits that made it on the top 10 lists. A few even climbed all the way up to number two. They became a household name from their first album as Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1968.
As a music writer for over seven years, I have written about many different band across many different genres. I have done everything from profile pieces to interviews, and I especially love writing about classic rock as this is the genre I’ve most listened to for as far as I can remember. Creedence Clearwater Revival was a band I grew up with, thanks to my dad.
If you want to know more about Creedence Clearwater Revival, this is the article for you. Read on to get this amazing, successful, short-lived band’s full story.
- John Fogerty (lead vocals, lead guitar, keyboards, harmonica, saxophone)
- Tom Fogerty (rhythm guitar, backing, and lead vocals)
- Stu Cook (bass, backing vocals, keyboards)
- Doug Clifford (drums, backing vocals)
Creedence Clearwater Revival didn’t start out as CCR in the early days. In fact, when the band was founded by the original trio of John Fogerty, Doug Clifford, and Stu Cook, the band was named the Blue Velvets. They only played instrumentals and “jukebox standards,” which was a far cry from what they became in later years.
The trio met all the way back in junior high school in El Cerrito, California, and really didn’t have a change in lineup for the band’s entire career. John’s older brother, Tom, eventually joined the band after they backed him in recordings and performance for quite a while.
During this time, the Blue Velvets released three singles, the second of which was picked up by the notable DJ, Casey Kasem. From there, they signed on with Fantasy Records, which was an independent jazz label in the Bay Area. Fantasy Records was known for acts like Vince Guaraldi, who the band aspired to be.
The New Vision
One of the first matters of business when signing on to Fantasy Records was a name change to The Golliwogs.
Now I know what you’re asking; what the heck is a Golliwog? Fantasy Record’s Co-owner, Max Weiss, named the band after a children’s story character, Golliwog, but it is unclear why. Before naming the band The Golliwogs, Weiss thought of naming the band to Vision, but that never really came to be.
Interestingly, the band members had a significant shift in roles during this time. Tom Fogerty went from lead vocals to rhythm guitar, Stu Cook went from piano to bass, and John Fogerty became the lead vocalist. The latter also played keyboards, harmonica, saxophone, and lead guitar. He was also the primary songwriter of the group. By 1967, John Fogerty was also producing the band’s recordings.
However, this was also a time of war, and the band was not immune from that. John Fogerty and Doug Clifford were enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve and the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, respectively. This is where John Fogerty got a lot of his inspiration for songwriting.
The Switch to Creedence Clearwater Revival
After Saul Zaentz bought Fantasy Records, he offered the band the opportunity to record a full-length album rather than their usual singles. The band hated the name The Golliwogs from the get-go and jumped on the opportunity to change it. They landed on the name Creedence Clearwater Revival, which finally stuck.
The name came from three sources of inspiration: first, Tom Fogerty’s friend Credence Newball (they changed the spelling to creed). The second was an ad for Olympia Brewing Company, which is where “Clearwater” came from. Finally, the four members all renewed their commitment to the band at this time, which is how they landed on “Revival.”
The reject names they came up with were Muddy Rabbit, Gossamer Wump, and Creedence, Nutball, and Ruby (thank goodness they chose Creedence Clearwater Revival, right?)
The first song that gained them a real following was the rockabilly cover of “Susie Q.” The song actually reached the Top 40 hit list, climbing up to number 11 at its highest point. This was the band’s only Top 40 hit not written by John Fogerty. After this mild success, the band released another cover, “I Put a Spell on You,” which only climbed to number 58 on the charts.
The Height of Success
After seeing moderate success with their first self-titled album, Creedence Clearwater Revival released their second album, Bayou Country, in January 1969. The singles “Proud Mary” and “Born on the Bayou” reached number two on the Billboard chart, which catapulted them into success.
In fact, “Proud Mary” became the band’s most covered song with over 100 versions by other artists recorded—Ike and Tina Turner recorded the most notable version.
A few months later, “Bad Moon Rising” and “Lodi” were released, peaking at number two in the United States and reaching number one for three weeks in the United Kingdom.
Within the same year, Creedence Clearwater Revival released their third studio album, Green River, which went gold with the song “Green River,” reaching number two on the charts. They even played a set at Woodstock, but the set was not included in the Woodstock Film or soundtrack because John Fogerty felt the band’s performance was “subpar,” requesting it not be included on these recordings.
Cook reportedly mentioned, “The performances are classic CCR, and I’m still amazed by the number of people who don’t even know we were one of the headliners at Woodstock ’69.”
After Woodstock, the band went on to record their fourth album, Willy and the Poor Boys. At this time, Creedence Clearwater Revival had hit the peak of their success and released the tracks “Down on the Corner” and “Fortunate Son.” Both of which they went on to perform on the Ed Sullivan Show. By the end of the year, Creedence Clearwater Revival had achieved three top 10 albums and four hit singles.
This is where the band ran into a little legal trouble as they released the singles “Travelin’ Band” and “Who’ll Stop the Rain.” The former has a substantial similarity to the Little Richard song “Good Golly Miss Molly,” leading to a lawsuit that was settled out of court.
This did not stop the song from hitting number two on the charts, nor did it tear down the band’s popularity as they were featured on the cover of Rolling Stone soon afterward.
Next, the singles “Up Around the Bend” and “Run Through the Jungle” were released from their fourth studio album, Cosmo’s Factory, and reached number four on the charts. Additionally, “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” and “Long as I Can See the Light” marked their last singles to climb to number two on the charts.
In fact, the band was known for having five singles climb to number two but never claiming a number one hit on the charts, which was the most of any other group up until that point. Years later, that “goal” was surpassed by Madonna, Taylor Swift, and Drake, who all claimed six number two hits without reaching number one.
After their four years of continued success, the band felt John Fogerty had become overly controlling, which caused the additional members to hit a boiling point. Tom Fogerty decided to call it quits at this point after recording their sixth studio alum, Pendulum. The band never replaced Tom Fogerty but instead decided to carry on as a trio.
At this point, the band was in a very bad place. Clifford and Cook constantly complained that they were not allowed to write or produce any of their own songs, leading John Fogerty to put his foot down.
He decided that each member would write and perform their own material, with each member contributing three songs each to the next album. John Fogerty refused to contribute anything more than guitar parts to the other members’ songs.
Despite the concerns about this decision from the band mates, John Fogerty sharply stated he would quit the band unless this was the way they went forward from there on out.
The band’s final album, Mardi Gras, was released in 1972, and needless to say, it did not get the recognition or fame as their previous albums and was called a “critical failure.” Rolling Stone reviewer, Jon Landau, claimed it was “the worst album I have ever heard from a major rock band.” However, the album still went gold, with the most notable single being “Someday Never Comes.”
Six months later, Creedence Clearwater Revival decided to call it quits due to the failure of their album and a battle over renegotiations with their record label. Cook and Clifford went on to form Creedence Clearwater Revisited, but the band never formally reunited since their break up. The band ultimately had a successful run for roughly four years in total (from 1968 to 1972).
Creedence Clearwater Revival Post-Break Up
Believe it or not, Creedence Clearwater Revival never formally got back together to tour or record, as there was too much bad blood involving control issues. However, every member of the band did go on to have solo careers or form bands of their own.
Clifford and Cook played together in a band that spun off from Creedence Clearwater Revival called Creedence Clearwater Revisited, but it never really gained any commercial success.
John Fogerty, Clifford, and Cook had a couple of legal spats over the new band’s name, forcing Clifford and Cook to temporarily change their band’s name to Cosmo’s Factory. Down the road, the court ruled in their favor, and they went back to Creedence Clearwater Revisited.
Tom Fogerty went on to release a few solo albums but did not gain any commercial success. Tom Fogerty passed away in 1990 due to a complication with AIDS, which he contracted during a blood transfusion he received while undergoing back surgery. Fortunately, Tom and John Fogerty were able to put their past behind them before his passing and reconciled.
John Fogerty also went on to have a solo career under the band The Blue Ridge Rangers. The Fantasy record label required him to create eight albums with this band, which John Fogerty never did. He severed ties on bad terms with the label. John Fogerty did have one hit album titled Centerfield in 1985, but had little commercial success after that.
Creedence Clearwater Revival Discography
As “The Blue Velvets”
- “Come on Baby”
- “Oh My Love”
- “Have You Ever Been Lonely
- “Yes You Did”
- “Now You’re Not Mine”
As “The Golliwogs”
- Don’t Tell Me No Lies”
- “Little Girl (Does Your Mama Know)”
- “Where You Been”
- “You Came Walking”
- “You Can’t Be True”
- “You Got Nothin’ on Me”
- “I Only Met You Just an Hour Ago”
- “Brown-Eyed Girl”
- “You Better Be Careful”
- “Gonna Hang Around”
- “Fight Fire”
- “Fragile Child”
- “Try Try Try”
- “She Was Mine”
- “Instrumental No. 1”
- “Action USA”
- “Little Tina”
- “Walking on Water”
- “You Better Get It Before It Gets You”
- “Tell Me”
- “You Can’t Be True”
- “Call It Pretending”
As “Creedence Clearwater Revival”
- Creedence Clearwater Revival (1968)
- Bayou Country (1969)
- Green River (1969)
- Willy and the Poor Boys (1969)
- Cosmo’s Factory (1970)
- Pendulum (1970)
- Mardi Gras (1972)
Notable Studio Albums
Bayou Country (1969)
Bayou Country was the second studio album recorded by Creedence Clearwater Revival. After struggling as the Blue Velvets and the Golliwogs, it was a much-anticipated success for the band after the band had released the remake of “Susie Q.”
Bayou Country was the first album that saw commercial success for Creedence Clearwater Revival, but some critics like Rolling Stone said, “The good cuts are very good, but the bad ones just don’t make it.”
There were a few hits on Bayou Country, including “Born on the Bayou” and “Proud Mary.” Although Bayou Country is not seen as the most influential album from Creedence Clearwater Revival, it is said to be the one that catapulted them into the spotlight.
Bayou Country is really the album that put Creedence Clearwater Revival on the map. Although I agree that it isn’t their most influential album, it still is a classic as it boasts their first hit “Proud Mary.”
Hits on this Album:
- “Born on the Bayou”
- “Good Golly, Miss Molly”
- “Proud Mary”
Green River (1969)
Green River was Creedence Clearwater Revival’s third studio album following the release of Bayou Country, where the single “Proud Mary” put them on the map. Green River was actually released the same year as Bayou Country but is said to be the album that made the band a household name.
During this time, Creedence Clearwater Revival made a pact to do no drugs or alcohol but rather “get high on the music,” which heavily went against the grain of the time.
Green River might be the band’s most popular album ever released, and critics loved it as well. Rolling Stone even called it “a great album.” John Fogerty has stated on many occasions that Green River is his favorite Creedence Clearwater Revival album as well. The album went gold in 1970 and went platinum in 1990. The hits on this album include “Green River,” “Bad Moon Rising,” and “Lodi.”
Although Green River is widely claimed to be Creedence Clearwater Revival’s most influential album, I have to disagree. “Green River” is one of my favorite songs by the band, but in my opinion, it’s not my all-time favorite and not their absolute best.
Hits on this Album:
- “Green River”
- “Bad Moon Rising”
Willy and the Poor Boys (1969)
Willy and the Poor Boys was Creedence Clearwater Revival’s fourth studio album; at this point, the band was a household name. Many did not think Creedence Clearwater Revival would get the same success they achieved from the album Green River, but Willy and the Poor Boys was also a great success.
At this point, Creedence Clearwater Revival had performed at Woodstock as well as the Ed Sullivan Show, so they were at the peak of their success. However, the band had a hard time behind the scenes as Tom Fogerty, Clifford, and Cook began to buck up against John Fogerty’s demanding leadership.
Willy and the Poor Boys yielded a few hits, including “Down on the Corner” and “Fortunate Son.” “Cotton Fields reached number one on the charts in Mexico.
There aren’t as many hits on Willy and the Poor Boys, but the hits on this album are extremely solid songs. “Fortunate Son” is one of the most popular war protest songs to date, and it’s just an all around awesome song.
Hits on this Album:
- “Down on the Corner”
- “Fortunate Son”
Cosmo’s Factory (1970)
It’s almost a toss-up between Green River and Cosmo’s Factory as to which Creedence Clearwater Revival album is the most popular and influential—kind of just depends on who you are talking to.
Cosmo’s Factory was Creedence Clearwater Revival’s fifth studio album and boasted a bunch of hits like “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” “Run Through the Jungle,” “Up Around the Bend,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” and “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.”
Not only was this the band’s fifth studio album but also the fifth studio album they had produced in only two years! Although the band achieved both commercial and critical success, their peers sometimes looking at Creedence Clearwater Revival as “a singles band with no substance.”
This album was said to be the first step toward the end of the band, as the band members were frustrated with John Fogerty for taking over creative control of the band’s music.
Many critics and fans argue if Green River or Cosmo’s Factory are Creedence Clearwater Revival’s most influential album. I have to say I side with Cosmo’s Factory. There are so many hits on this album and even the songs that aren’t hits are worth the listen.
Hits on this Album:
- “Lookin’ Out My Back Door”
- “Run Through the Jungle”
- “Up Around the Bend”
- “Who’ll Stop the Rain?”
- “I Heard it Through the Grapevine”
Frequently Asked Questions
Answer: Creedence Clearwater Revival started out playing under a jazz label, but their sound is very different than a jazz band. Although they are from sunny California, they have a lot of Southern influences. They have been described to play the following genres: roots rock, swamp rock, blues rock, Southern rock, country rock, and blue-eyed soul. An easy way to classify them these days is classic rock.
Answer: There were a couple of other band names Creedence Clearwater Revival went by before CCR, including the Blue Velvets and The Golliwogs. There are three sources the band name came from.
First, Creedence came from the first name of the close friend of John Fogerty, Credence Newball, and Clearwater came from a beer commercial from the Olympia Beer Company. Lastly, Revival came from all of the band members rebooting their dream within the band.
Answer: Believe it or not, Creedence Clearwater Revival did not have any changes within their lineup as a band. At one point, Tom Fogerty left the band, but the band did not replace him and continued on as a trio.
These are the original members of Creedence Clearwater Revival:
• John Fogerty (lead vocals, lead guitar, keyboards, harmonica, saxophone)
• Tom Fogerty (rhythm guitar, backing, and lead vocals)
• Stu Cook (bass, backing vocals, keyboards)
• Doug Clifford (drums, backing vocals)
Answer: Considering Creedence Clearwater Revival was really only popular for four years, they actually had a bunch of notable songs, including:
• “Fortunate Son”
• “Proud Mary”
• “Bad Moon Rising”
• “Lookin’ Out My Back Door”
• “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?”
• “The Midnight Special”
• “Green River”
• “Travelin’ Band”
• “Run Through the Jungle”
• “Down on the Corner”
• “Born on the Bayou”
• “Up Around The Bend”
• “Suzie-Q” (remake)
• “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” (remake)
• “I Put A Spell on You” (remake)
Answer: Unbelievably enough, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s most popular album is not one of their original studio recordings but a “Best of” album titled Chronicle, which has sold over 10 million copies to date.
However, many say that their most popular original studio album was Green River, which boasted hits like “Green River” and “Bad Moon Rising”—two of their biggest hits.
There is also a school of thought that reasons their most popular album is actually Cosmo’s Factory,” which boasts hits like “Up Around the Bend,” “Travelin’ Band,” “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” “Long As I Can See the Light,” and “Run Through the Jungle.” It just kind of depends on who you are talking to.
Final Thoughts on Creedence Clearwater Revival
Not many bands have achieved the same success Creedence Clearwater Revival did in their four-year span in the limelight. The band might have gone through some name and ideology changes, but the core group always stayed together through thick and thin.
Unfortunately, after Creedence Clearwater Revival broke up, they never formally got back together due to tempers and control issues. Still, everyone who listens to them has to say that they have a unique sound that gives classic rock as a genre the nod it deserves.
Yes, they were influential during a time when many talented bands came out, but they still carried on great success without ever falling into the mundane.
There truly is no other band out there that sounds like Creedence Clearwater Revival, and pretty much every parent has at least one of their albums in their collection. If you are not familiar with Creedence Clearwater Revival, bust out one of your parent’s old albums—it is worth the listen.