Thanks largely to John Fogerty's rough, inimitable voice and seemingly bottomless supply of great melodies, Creedence Clearwater Revival were the preeminent American singles band of the late Sixties and early Seventies.
John Fogerty and his brother Tommy were raised in Berkeley, where John studied piano and at the age of 12 got his first guitar. He met bandmates Cook and Clifford at El Cerrito junior high school, and by 1959 the group was performing at local dances as 'Tommy Fogerty and the Blue Velvets'. In 1964 the quartet signed to San Francisco-based Fantasy Records, where Tom had been working as a packing and shipping clerk. The label renamed them the Golliwogs and began putting out singles. 'Brown Eyed Girl' sold 10,000 copies in 1965, but the follow-ups were flops. Greater success came after they adopted the CCR moniker in 1967.
Several Fogerty compositions appeared on 'Creedence Clearwater Revival', but cover versions of Dale Hawkins' 'Suzie Q' and Screamin' Jay Hawkins' 'I Put a Spell on You' were the group's first hits. With the release of 'Bayou Country', Creedence became the most popular rock band in America. Beginning with the two-sided gold hit 'Proud Mary' and 'Born on the Bayou', Creedence dominated Top Forty radio for two years without disappointing the anticommercial element of the rock audience.
CCR's rough-hewn rockers often dealt with political and cultural issues, and the quartet appeared at the Woodstock Festival. Creedence had seven major hit singles in 1969 and 1970, including 'Bad Moon Rising' (Number Two, 1969), 'Green River' (Number Two, 1969), 'Fortunate Son' (Number 14, 1969), 'Down on the Corner' (Number Three, 1969), 'Travelin' Band' (Number Two, 1970), 'Up Around the Bend' (Number Four, 1970) and 'Lookin' Out My Back Door' (Number Two, 1970).
Although Creedence's success continued after 'Cosmo's Factory', it was the group's artistic peak. Internal dissension, primarily the result of John Fogerty's dominant role, began to pull the band apart in the early '70s. Tom left in January 1971, one month after the release of the pivotal 'Pendulum' which became the group's fifth platinum album. Creedence carried on as a trio, touring worldwide; 'Live in Europe' was the recorded result. CCR's final album, 'Mardi Gras', gave Cook and Clifford an equal share of the songwriting and lead vocals. It was the band's first album not to go platinum. Creedence disbanded in October 1972, and Fantasy has subsequently released a number of albums, including a live recording of a 1970 Oakland concert, which upon original release was erroneously titled Live at Albert Hall (it was later retitled The Concert).