On this day in 1970, Creedence Clearwater Revival started a nine-week run at No.1 on the US album chart with their fifth studio album Cosmo’s Factory. The name of the album comes from the warehouse in Berkeley where the band rehearsed. Bandleader John Fogerty was so insistent on practicing (nearly every day) that drummer Doug “Cosmo” Clifford began referring to the place as “the factory”.
John Fogerty and his band were on a roll. Around this time, CCR could do no wrong. This was their time.
Three of the members John Fogerty, Doug Clifford, and Stu Cook
were all born in the same year – 1945. John’s older brother Tom who played rhythm guitar and made up the four-piece was born in 1941.
By 1964, the band had signed to the San Francisco based Fantasy Records, who were an independent jazz label. Fantasy co-owner Max Weiss renamed the group the Golliwogs (after the children’s literary character, Golliwogg), apparently to cash in on a wave of popular British bands with similar names. The band hated it.
Things weren’t going well. The group suffered a setback in 1966 when the draft board called up John Fogerty and Doug Clifford for military service. Fogerty managed to enlist in the Army Reserve instead of the regular Army while Clifford did a tenure in the United States Coast Guard Reserve.
Re-grouping the following year, new management at Fantasy extended their deal along with a name change. The group arrived at their new title Creedence Clearwater Revival from three elements. Firstly, Tom Fogerty’s friend Credence Newball, (to whose first name Credence they added an extra ‘e’, making it resemble a faith or creed); secondly, “clear water” from a TV commercial for Olympia beer, and finally “revival”, which spoke to the four members’ renewed commitment to their band.
Releasing their debut album AM radio started to pick up on their version of Suzie Q, (the 1956 song by rockabilly star Dale Hawkins). There was something different and fresh about CCR – the raw edge of John Fogerty’s voice, the driving force of the rhythem section, CCR sounded different to everything else, delivering for the most part, short sharp songs. Which was a good thing.
The band toured and toured – playing every club they could from state to state and in the middle of this, recorded a second album Bayou Country – featuring seven songs that were well-honed from Creedence’s constant live playing. The single Proud Mary was an instant success; radio loved it, giving CCR the chart hit they needed, peaking at #2 on the Billboard chart.
Bob Dylan named it his favorite single of 1969, Ike and Tina Turner went on to record it, as did over 100 other artists!
CCR were defiantly on a roll. Their follow up single didn’t disappoint. Bad Moon Rising was released and also peaked at #2 on the charts.
The boys appeared at both Woodstock and the Atlanta Pop Festival – and continued to tour. And the hits kept coming – Down on the Corner, Fortunate Son and two reworked Leadbelly covers, Cotton Fields and Midnight Special.
After touring Europe for the first time, the band returned to San Francisco to record what many consider is the finest CCR album, Cosmo’s Factory. Travelin’ Band, Up Around the Bend, Who’ll Stop the Rain, Run Through the Jungle, Long as I Can See the Light and who else but CCR could pull it off, a stonking version of the Norman Whitfield, Barrett Strong song, I Heard It Through the Grapevine.
Fogerty’s classic compositions for Creedence both evoked enduring images of Americana and reflected burning social issues of the day. Eight gold albums between 1968 and 1972 – CCR brought things back to their roots with their mix of rockabilly, swamp pop, R&B, and country.
They were always one of my favourite bands. You could rely on Creedence to always come up with the goods. Elvis loved them. And so did America.
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