Catalogue number: Warner/WEA 45426 (USA), 936 2454622 (Europe)
European release date: May 16
USA release date: May 20
Australian release date: June 2
1. Southern Streamline
2. Hot Rod Heart
4. 110 In The Shade
5. Rattlesnake Highway
6. Bring It Down To Jellyroll
7. Walking In A Hurricane
8. Swamp River Days
9. Rambunctious Boy
10. Joy Of My Life
11. Blue Moon Nights
12. Bad Bad Boy
All songs (C) 1997 Cody River Music
Press information about Blue Moon Swamp: [by Peter Koers via CCR mailing list]
John Fogerty; vocals, guitar, lap steel, dobro, bouzouki, mandolin
Bob Glaub; Bass
Kenny Aronoff; drums
Producer: John Fogerty
The Fairfield Four; backing vocals
The Lonesome River Band; backing vocals
Duck Dunn; bass
Chad Smith, Chester Thompson; drums
Walking In A Hurricane, Swamp River Days, Rambunctious Boy.
John Fogerty is a seminal figure in the history of rock'n' roll, and Blue Moon Swamp,
his first album in a decade, is fully up to his legendary standards. Bristling with energy, bite and Fogerty's trademark guitar choogle, Blue Moon Swamp is a stunning new set of songs that ranks with the finest work's he's ever done. Ranging in sound from Sun Session twang to Creedence style rockers to full on 90's electricity, the album was long time coming, but it was worth every minute of the wait.
The album was produced by Fogerty himself, mixed by Bob Clearmountain and mastered by Jim Ludwig. Most of the album features a core group of Fogerty on guitar and other
instruments, along with Bob Glaub on bass and Kenny Aronoff on drums. There are also
guest performances by Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and veteran Muscle Shoals
bassist Duck Dunn. along with gospel harmonies from The Fairfield Four and bluegrass sound from the Lone River Band.
John will be doing extensive press to support BMS and you can expect this album to be
one of the highest visibility releases of the year. Ecstatic reviews are a certainty.
Expect extensive multi-format airplay as well. (Details of singles and videos had yet to be finalized at press time).
John plays an extensive tourschedule to support the record throughout the late spring and summer. In addition to Bob Glaub and Kenny Aronoff, the live band will include multi-instrumentalist Greg Leisz and guitarist Johnny Lee Schell.
Here is a little story about the albums history:
Spring 1992: John Fogerty begins recording 'Blue Moon Swamp', starting with just 5 songs. It took Fogerty 18 months to get even one usable track for the new album because he was so insistent on capturing the precise rhythm and sound that he had in his head. By the time the album was finished in January 1997, Fogerty had brought in nearly 50 musicians and watched the budget soar well into seven figures.
December 24, 1996: Julie Fogerty says the "final mixing" is being done on the last few songs of John's album and, therefore, it looks like a March or April release date is in the cards. Apparently, Warner Brothers (John's label) has been "pushing" him to move things along as they really want to get the album out. In addition, it appears that sometime shortly before or after the album's release, WB will be setting up an "official" John Fogerty web page.
Febuary 4, 1997: John has completed his new CD and all the masters are in hands of Warner Brothers now.
March 13, 1997: The title and release date for Blue Moon Swamp are announced by Warner Brothers. The tour is also announced.
Chart trivia, supplied by Robert Iversen: [added December 29,1997]
Blue Moon Swamp has fallen out of the Billboard Top 200, so barring a reentry, the final results are in. The album was on the charts for 27 weeks, peaking at #37. Chartwise, that puts it ahead of Blue Ridge Rangers and John Fogerty, but behind Centerfield and (amazingly) Eye of the Zombie. Critically, I think most have rated it as his best album. As for actual sales, I haven't seen figures for any of his solo albums, maybe someone can help out with this.
None of the singles charted on the Billboard Hot 100, although both WIAH and Blueboy hit the Mainstream Rock Top Forty, WIAH making it to #14 and BB to #32. Hot Rod Heart apparently died, didn't appear on any of the charts, I personally heard it only once on the radio.
The release of a new JF album, coupled with his touring , definitely spurred sales of CCR material. Chronicle Vol. I appeared back on the Top Pop 50 Catalogue Album Chart June 7th, and stayed there almost every week til Nov. 1. It's now been on that chart for a total of 241 weeks.
Some will conclude that the album didn't do as well as it should have, but compared to some other top rock musicians of John's era who released albums at the same time, it more than held it's own. Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson released albums the same day as BMS, both to much fanfare, publicity, etc. Each debuted quite high on the charts, but both dropped off completely long ago. The same is true for new albums by the Bee Gees and James Taylor, which came out the week before BMS, to much hoopla and acclaim, but didn't have the staying power of the Fogerty album.
I think this is the first Fogerty/CCR album that definitely did better overseas than in the US. Here are the peak positions in each country in which it cracked the Top 20 of that country's chart, again according to Billboard.
USA-EURO TOUR DATES/INFO
The touring band will include:
Bob Glaub - bass (on album as well)
Kenny Aronoff - drums (on album as well)
Mike Knipe - guitar
Johnny Lee Schnell - guitar
Click here to see an index of concert reviews.
May 18, 1997: The Fillmore, San Francisco
May 19, 1997: The Fillmore, San Francisco
May 21, 1997: House of Blues, LA
May 23, 1997: House of Blues, LA
May 24, 1997: House of Blues, LA
May 27, 1997: House of Blues, Chicago
May 28, 1997: House of Blues, Chicago
May 28, 1997: House of Blues, Chicago
May 29, 1997: Toronto ONT, CA
May 30, 1997: Toronto ONT, CA
June 2, 1997: Hammerstein Ballroom, New York
June 3, 1997: Hammerstein Ballroom, New York
June 5, 1997: The David Letterman Show, New York
June 8, 1997: .328 Performance Hall, Nashville
June 9, 1997: Roxy, Atlanta
July 10, 1997: Palace Theater, Louisville KY
July 12, 1997: Nautica Stage, Cleveland OH
July 14, 1997: Zoo Amphitheater, Toledo OH
July 15, 1997: I.C. Light Amphitheater, Pittsburgh PA
July 17, 1997: Tower Theater, Upper Darby PA
July 19, 1997: Oakdale Theater, Wallingford CT
July 20, 1997: Harborlights Pavillion, Boston MA
August 14, 1997: Paramount Theatre, Denver, CO
August 17, 1997: Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, CA
August 18, 1997: Memorial Auditorium, Sacramento, CA
August 20, 1997: Cuthbert Theatre, Eugene, OR
August 22, 1997: Orpheum Theatre, Vancouver, BC
August 23, 1997: The Gorge, George, WA
August 25, 1997: The Farayon, Fresno, CA
August 28, 1997: The Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
September 8, 1997: Fox Theatre, St. Louis
September 11, 1997: State Theatre, Minneapolis
September 16, 1997: Columbus, Ohio
September 25, 1997: Saenger Theater, New Orleans
December 13/14, 1997: Warner Brothers Studios
June 26, 1997: Roskilde Festival, Denmark
June 27, 1997: "Grünspan Salto Mobile", Hamburg
July 25, 1997: Lollipop Festival, Stockholm
July 26, 1997: Hartwall Arena, Helsinki
July 27, 1997: Spectrum, Oslo, Norway
October 29, 1997: Turcu
October 31, 1997: Stockholm
November 1, 1997: Scandinavium, Gothenborg, Sweden
November 3, 1997: Malmö, Sweden
November 4, 1997: Malmö, Sweden
November 7, 1997: Norrkoping
November 8, 1997: Karlskoga
November 9, 1997: Stockholm
Dates are taken from the John Fogerty site, Warner Brothers site, Fogerty's Swamp mailing list, River Rising mailing list and from the CCR mailing list.
-MAY 13, at 10:30 PM Eastern Time-
LEGENDARY ROCKER JOHN FOGERTY JAMS ON THE INTERNET
World Premiere Of Long Awaited New Album To Be Cybercast On Rocktropolis
Performance Set To Include Creedence Clearwater Revival Songs!!!
WHO: Legendary Rocker John Fogerty...
WHAT: World premiere new album cybercast on...
WHEN: Tuesday, May 13, at 10:30 P.M. Eastern Time...
WHERE: On the Internet at ROCKTROPOLIS (www.rocktropolis.com)
Presented by Rocktropolis and The Album Network, the John Fogerty cybercast will be a world premiere of his new album BLUE MOON SWAMP and will feature interviews, album tracks and a taped live performance from his rehearsal studio in California the previous day.
source: private email
May 18: Interview with Fogerty on Finnish television; TV2, "Hollywood Express", at 22.10-22.40.
source: CCR mailing list
JOHN FOGERTY LIVE!
WEDNESDAY, MAY 21 @ 9:00 p.m. Pacific Time (4:00 GMT)
Be there as legendary rocker John Fogerty steps up to bat for a must-hear LIVE show, with tunes from his Creedence Clearwater Revival days and his solo career, including his brand new album for Warner Brothers, "Blue Moon Swamp." It's been 11 years since his last tour, so don't let this one slip by you!
source: private email
June (exact date not announced yet, it looks like it will be in July): TV special Dutch TV 'Lola-Da-Musica'
[note: this broadcast never happened. There was a radio interview instead on VPRO Radio, Thursday August 14,]
source: Muziek en Beeld trade paper
June 9: 'Good Morning America TV show'
source: CCR mailing list
June 15: Live Concerts (http://www.liveconcerts.com)
live show by Fogerty on Sunday, June 15 1997 at 3:30 pm PT (22:30 GMT).
(this show IS the same as the one from May 21)
June 20: 'Nulle Part Ailleurs', France Television
source: John Fogerty web site
June 22: German TV show 'Gottschalk's Houseparty', SAT 1
source: Peter Koers via CCR mailing list
June 29: 'The Storyteller', VH-1
source: John Fogerty web site
July 19: 'Late Night with Conan O'Brien' TV show, NBC USA/Europe
July 22: The CCR documentary from 1994 will be rerun on Finnish tv. TV1, July 22nd, at 23:15 LT.
source: Petri Silmara via CCR mailing list
July 24: Swedish radio will broadcast John Fogerty live music from this years Roskilde show. Usually this programme contains 50-55 minutes of live music.
source: Adam Bryant via CCR mailing list
July 26: "interview special" with John Fogerty on Swedish TV channel 2 (22.00 - 22.45 CET). This interview was made during his promo visit to Stockholm late June.
source: Bengt Ake via CCR mailing list
July ??: Broadcast of a House Of Blues concert on VH1. No date or further details available
source: Peter Koers via CCR mailing list
August 3: 'Hard Rock Live', VH-1
source: John Fogerty web site
September 12: John picks his 10 favourite video-clips on European VH-1, 12:00 GMT.
source: Thomas Kristiansson via private email
USA: Billboard magazine - April 19 (article, small picture)
USA: ICE - May 1997 (article, small picture)
USA: Chicago Reader - May 2 (BMS tour ad.)
USA: Globe - May 16 (cover photo, 1 page article, review 2 more pics)
USA: Billboard magazine - May 17 (backpage advertisement)
USA: USA Today - May 19 (cover story, great photo)
USA: Houston Chronicle - May 20
USA: Oakland Tribune - May 20 (Fillmore concert review)
USA: Chicago Sun Times - May 21 (1 page article)
USA: Houston Chronicle - May 23
USA: Boston herald - May 23 (cover photo, 2 page article, 2 pictures)
USA: Chicago Tribune - May 27 (large concert preview)
USA: Chicago Sun Times - May 28 (1 page article, concert review)
USA: Chicago Sun Times - May30 (1 page article, concert review)
USA: Chicago Tribune - May 30 (concert review)
USA: Entertainment Weekly -May 30 (album review, sidebar interview)
ITALY: Buscadero - n. 180 (May issue) (cover story, 1 page preview)
USA: No Depression - May/June issue (4 page article, 4 photos)
USA: Time - June 2 (article, picture)
B: HUMO - June 3 (1 page article)
USA: Rolling Stone - June 12 -issue 762 (review, photo)
USA: Sports Illustrated- June issue (full page ad)
USA: Rolling Stone - June 26th -issue, #763 (article, picture)
GER: Rolling Stone - June (half page advertisement, BMS review)
GER: Fachblatt Musikmagazin - June (3 1/2 page article, interview)
GER: 'Hoer Zu' - issue No. 24, June 1997 (review)
JAP: Record Collector - June 1997 Vol 16 (30 page article, + 7 pages of color photos)
GER: Rolling Stone - July/issue (picture, 1 page article)
USA: Guitar World - July 4/issue 17 (article, interview, nice photographs)
USA: Goldmine - July 4
GB: Q magazine - July
GB: Mojo magazine (BMS review)
NOR: Beat - Nr. 3, 1997 (interview)
source: CCR mailing list
Way Beyond Center Field By ROBERT HILBURN.
Interview with Fogerty on Finnish television via CCR mailing list, translation by Leif Bagge.
The Fortunate Son Returns courtesy Adam Bryant via CCR mailing list.
Way Beyond Center Field
"Once upon a time after Creedence Clearwater Revival, John Fogerty wouldn't sing any of his old band's songs. Now he's resurfaced a new man (one who's on tour) and that's changed."
By ROBERT HILBURN.
Robert Hilburn Is The Times' Pop Music Critic. Copyright Los Angeles Times.
When John Fogerty steps onto the stage of the Fillmore in San Francisco two weeks from tonight for his first full-scale concert in more than a decade, it will be both a homecoming and a small act of penance.
It was a dream come true in 1968 when the Berkeley native first played the famed ballroom with his old band, Creedence Clearwater Revival. The quartet already had one hit, a searing remake of "Suzie Q," and was on a creative roll that would take it to first-ballot induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, thanks to such landmark hits as "Proud Mary" and "Who'll Stop the Rain?"
But nostalgia isn't the only reason Fogerty wants to open the tour at the 1,250-capacity Fillmore and then play the sold-out House of Blues club in Los Angeles on May 21, 23 and 24, rather than the larger venues that his fan base would certainly support. It's not lost on Fogerty that a stand-in vocalist will sing Fogerty's songs with a band built around the other two surviving Creedence members, drummer Doug Clifford and bassist Stu Cook, at the 6,000-seat Greek Theatre on Saturday. (The band's fourth member, Tom Fogerty, died in 1990.)
Fogerty is starting out with small venues because he wants to reestablish himself as a live performer before stepping up--and he believes it's a way to pay back some of the fans who were disappointed by the absence of Creedence songs the last time around, in 1986.
He avoided Creedence songs on that tour because of a bitterness growing out of one of the most celebrated and unlikeliest show-biz legal squabbles in years--one involving charges of plagiarism and defamation pitting Fogerty against Saul Zaentz, the Oscar-winning film producer and owner of Fantasy Records.
Fogerty, 51, now calls the decision not to do Creedence songs a mistake.
"Bless those fans who were so eager to see me on the tour that they would go to the shows under any circumstances, even when they knew I wasn't going to do Creedence songs," Fogerty says. "When I look back, it was wrong. But it was the only thing I could do. I was so consumed by anger."
It was that anger that contributed to Fogerty's second lost decade. So, what took so long, John?
It's late in the afternoon on an outdoor patio at Warner Bros. Records in Burbank and a playful Fogerty opens an interview with the inescapable question that everyone asks him now that he's about to release his first album in more than a decade.
It's a good line, but it's incomplete.
The real question should be, "What took so long again, John?"
When Fogerty returned from a nine-year career hiatus in 1984 with the hit single "Old Man Down the Road," who would have figured that he would soon take an even longer break?
Well, it really only took five years to make the new album, "Blue Moon Swamp," which is due in stores May 20. He didn't start on it until the spring of 1992. Still, five years is almost unheard of--even with time out for the Northridge earthquake, which forced Fogerty and his family to move out of their Mulholland Drive home for about nine months.
It's especially long for a man who once released three hit albums in the same calendar year: Creedence's "Bayou Country," "Green River" and "Willy and the Poorboys." He and the band were so efficient in the studio that the albums were typically recorded in less than a week and cost
By contrast, it took Fogerty 18 months to get even one usable track for the new album because he was so insistent on capturing the precise rhythm and sound that he had in his head. By the time the album was finished in January, Fogerty had brought in nearly 50 musicians and watched the budget soar well into seven figures.
"I always knew there was a finish line, and I never doubted myself and my ability to get there," he says, looking as lean as he was in his Creedence days. "But it must have looked strange from the outside . . . me going to the studio every day for years. I mean, if I saw someone doing that, I'd be the first one to ask, 'Are you sure you're OK?' "
Fogerty was in a jubilant mood when he resurfaced in the mid-'80s, and the "Centerfield" album had a spirit to match. But the good times didn't last. The comeback turned sour by the time he finished the 1986 solo tour. He felt bad about not doing the Creedence songs and he looked on "Eye of the Zombie," the 1986 follow-up to "Centerfield," as a disappointment.
One reason for that album's dark and depressing tone, he believes now, is that he recorded it while facing two legal battles with Fantasy. Zaentz and Oakland-based Fantasy, which released Creedence's albums, still own the Creedence recordings and the copyrights to Creedence's songs.
After Creedence broke up in 1972, Fogerty made one solo album under the name Blue Ridge Rangers before going on strike against Fantasy, protesting, among other things, a contract under which he says he owed the label more than a dozen albums.
He received his recording freedom in 1975 when David Geffen, then head of Asylum Records, worked out a reported $1-million deal with Fantasy that passed Fogerty's U.S. and Canadian recording rights to Asylum and, eventually, to its sister label Warner Bros.
Zaentz, who produced this year's best picture Oscar winner, "The English Patient," claimed that two songs on "Centerfield" defamed him: "Zanz Kant Danz" and "Mr. Greed." He filed a $142-million civil suit in Los Angeles Superior Court.
In a separate civil action, Zaentz charged that Fogerty plagiarized his own Creedence composition "Run Through the Jungle" with "Old Man Down the Road," a song on "Centerfield." A San Francisco jury found him innocent of the charge in 1988. Fogerty and Zaentz settled the defamation suit out of court.
Hoping to end ties with Fantasy, Fogerty then spent the years from 1989 to early 1992 trying--unsuccessfully--to buy back the copyrights to his songs. The rights were such an obsession, Fogerty says, that he had no energy left to think about music.
Asked about the Fogerty-Fantasy litigation, Al Bendich, vice president of legal affairs for Fantasy, took the high road last week: "We have always believed in John as an artist and we are pleased that he has put his feelings behind him and is continuing with his career. We wish him
well with the record and the tour."
Fogerty began playing Creedence songs again at benefits in 1987. But he still was doubtful about ever playing them in his own concerts for the same reason he didn't do them on the 1986 tour: He didn't want to put money in Fantasy's pockets.
The impasse ended one day in 1992 while he was jogging along Mulholland listening to the radio. A woman was complaining to a psychiatrist on a talk show about a man who after nine years still wasn't willing to marry her. The psychiatrist advised her to forget him because if he hadn't committed by then he probably never would. But the woman kept making excuses for him.
"I'm listening to this go back and forth, and after a while I realize that I'm listening to my story," he says, laughing now at his realization. "I kept wanting to get those songs back, but it wasn't going to happen and I had to move on."
"Blue Moon Swamp" is far closer to the high spirits of "Centerfield" than the morose "Eye of the Zombie." The album's most upbeat moments, including "Rambunctious Boy" and "Hot Rod Heart," recall the energy and zest of some of the hit Creedence days.
The collection also includes, significantly, Fogerty's first love song. It's dedicated to his wife, the former Julie Kramer, whom he met on tour in Indiana. The couple married in 1991 and have two boys, Shane, 5, and Tyler, 4, as well as a daughter, Lyndsay, 12, from Julie's previous marriage. Fogerty also has three grown children from his former marriage.
"I'm sure making this record has been rough on her, seeing it drag on and wondering if I was ever going to finish," Fogerty says. "I felt bad for her at times. . . . I knew I had a sound in my head that I was going to get on record. I just never realized how difficult it would be to match the sound in my head and the sound in the studio."
Fogerty began rehearsals for the tour two weeks ago in Los Angeles, working with a four-piece band that includes drummer Kenny Aronoff, who is best known for his work with John Mellencamp, and bassist Bob Glaub, who has toured with Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor. On the tour, he expects to do nearly an hour of Creedence tunes as part of a 90-minute show.
Gary Bongiovanni, editor in chief of Pollstar, a leading concert trade publication, believes that Fogerty's tour prospects are strong.
"You're talking someone who hasn't toured in a long time and whose [Creedence] songs are still staples of classic rock radio," he said. "So there has got to be a level of pent-up demand to see him."
Steven Baker, Warner Bros. Records president, is equally optimistic about the audience potential.
"With John Fogerty, you have someone like Neil Young, who crosses all sorts of age and musical boundaries--an artist who is already in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but still has his power and craft intact," he said.
"In a lot of ways, I'm like a new kid on the block and I want to start out on that level," Fogerty says. "Fans who remember me from the Creedence days probably just know me from the records. I feel like I'm very strong live, particularly now, but I have to go out and prove that."
Interview with Fogerty on Finnish television; TV2, "Hollywood Express", at 22.10-22.40, May 18.
via CCR mailing list. translation by Leif Bagge
Reporter (R): 25 years and 4 records. John Fogerty has not been productive lately and one reason is probably the old quarrel among the old bandmates. The man has now made a new record. Here are his
thoughts and recollections of old times.
R: Letīs talk about your new record. Why did it take so long to make this one?
JF: I just had to go through a lot of different things to get to where I am at now. The actual recordingprosess took quite a while but even to get to the point where I had something to record took quite a bit of time too. As you know here in Los Angeles we had an earthquake, a riot and a flood but the earthquake wrecked my house and it was about a year to to get it back together so I had to move out. Also during this period I met and married my wife and we had two babies. Iīve been
making this record exactly as long as theyīve been alive.
Around 1990-or so - I took several trips to Mississippi. As a result of those trips, where I was basically kind of studying all the bluespeople - living and dead - that Iīve grown up loving it rubbed of on me. It sort of prompted me to become that 14 years old boy that promised himself he wanted to grove up to be a really good musician.
This is sort of what this album reflexes.
R:How do you feel about the fact that your ex-bandmembers are playing your songs?
JF: Iīm really happy that people want to hear the old songs and itīs a bit ironic to me that the other two fellows have gone out calling themselves various incarnations of Creedence but they are basically playing my songs. It is very fulfilling that the fans are out there, that the people, letīs face it, a lot of people donīt get played on the radio and Creedence songs are played all the time so thatīs really neat.
There is a record that was in Europe as a CD. I think it was called the songs of John Fogerty. It may be from Finland but Iīm not sure. There is some other guys picture on the cover. I think the whole album was John Fogerty songs, if Iīm not mistaking and actually there were many really nice moments on that record, or CD. Realize that for a time I was really angry for what had happened to me and that was probably the reason I chose not to do my older material that a lot of people call Creedence songs although Creedence didnīt write them - I did. I was filled with bitterness and itīs really hard to imagine me go out singing Proud Mary and really being 100 % sincere of that. Itīs
not that things are better or are resolved, all the garbage is still unresolved really but with BMS I wanted to find (as I say to myself) equality. I wanted to finally connect my past with my presence and future.
I finally wanted to, you know, let my music be as strong as it has ever been. I donīt feel a bit ashamed or embarrassed for my presence anymore.
The Fortunate Son Returns
San Francisco Chronicle interview
by Joel Selvin, Chronicle Pop Music Critic
courtesy Adam Bryant via CCR mailing list.
After lengthy lawsuits and years on a new album, ex-Creedence Clearwater singer-songwriter Fogerty goes back to the bayou
The ghosts of long dead bluesmen called out to John Fogerty.
Before he even began the 4 1/2-year recording ordeal that resulted in ``Blue Moon Swamp,'' the former Creedence Clearwater Revival leader's first album in 11 years, he took a series of journeys to Mississippi, pilgrimages to the spiritual home of ``Proud Mary,'' ``Born on the Bayou,'' ``Run Through the Jungle,'' ``Bad Moon Rising'' and all his other enduring songs. Fogerty didn't know what he was seeking. After being embroiled in a 20-year legal battle with his former record company, a kind of rock 'n' roll ``Bleak House,'' he wanted to connect with his music's past. He walked unkept graveyards where the giants of Mississippi delta blues long lay buried. He took photographs of the Riverside Hotel in Clarksdale, Miss., where Ike Turner rehearsed his band befo
re making ``Rocket 88,'' which many call the first rock 'n' roll record.
``I saw all these guys, their life's work,'' Fogerty said. ``I don't know anything about the white guy that ripped them off -- and I'm sure there was one. All I know is this great music. And that made me go, `Wow, forget all that other stuff, just be you. You play your music. You write your songs like you always did.' I thought about Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters. These guys didn't
take no s--. Screw that.''
He recalled his Southern sojourns sitting in an office at Warner Bros. Records last month, his wife, Julie Kramer, quietly watching from a couch in the corner. Dressed in blue denim shirt and jeans, his brown hair giving off a golden sheen, Fogerty, 51, is a complex person underneath an easygoing exterior, eyes bristling above a ready smile. He has emerged from the shadows
that have engulfed his life for most of the past 20 years with a new outlook, a new wife, a new family and a fabulous new album, due May 20, that he thinks stands with his finest work. When he launches a national tour next weekend at the Fillmore Auditorium, Fogerty will be playing his Creedence classics for the first time since the band broke up in 1972.
For years he refused to perform them because Berkeley- based Fantasy Records owned the publishing rights, leading to some of his legal problems. But his Mississippi experiences changed him.
``Nobody talks about who owns Robert Johnson,'' Fogerty said. `` `Proud Mary' is spiritually mine. I will do myself.''
LAWSUITS AND LOST LOVE
The Fantasy lawsuits may have dwindled to one remaining case, but Fogerty remains the sworn enemy of the chairman of the company, Oscar-winning film producer Saul Zaentz, as well as of his former band mates. The other Creedence members not only failed to join him in battling Fantasy but also enraged him by touring under the name Creedence Clearwater Revisited, with somebody else at
the front of the band singing Fogerty's songs. With ``Centerfield,'' his 1984 comeback album, Fogerty took his anger public with a song called ``Zanz Kant Dance,'' where he told the story of a money-thieving, trained pig named Zanz. The song brought a defamation of character suit from the Fantasy chairman. Fogerty also faced a plagiarism suit from Fantasy, which he won, that accused
him of stealing the album's No. 1 hit, ``Old Man Down the Road,'' from his earlier ``Run Through the Jungle.''
Meanwhile, his older brother Tom Fogerty, another Creedence alumnus, sided with Zaentz. The brothers' breach was not healed by the time Tom Fogerty died of a respiratory ailment in 1990. John Fogerty was there only as ``the dutiful, polite relative.''
In the grip of these conflicts, Fogerty couldn't work and couldn't sleep, tormented by insomnia. But slowly over the past few years his life turned around. He heard the voices of the dead bluesmen and he fell in love with the woman who became his wife. He even felt confident enough to sign with the first real manager of his career, Nick Clainos, co-president of Bill Graham Presents.
``Julie is the main thing,'' he said. ``I can't say enough about her. When you find the love of your life and you're able to sit with another guy and actually say that unashamedly, then you know you've arrived some place.''
Fogerty met Kramer, a divorced mother from South Bend, Ind., in 1985, during his only post-Creedence solo tour. They have been married for six years and have two sons, ages 4 and 5. Fogerty has three grown children from his first marriage, and his 3-year-old grandchild plays with his new sons when the families visit. ``I'm just a really lucky guy,'' he said. ``About the first time I saw her, I recognized that she would be good for me. We both did this very cautiously. We instinctively knew, `Let's not mess this up.' The first time we met, I was on tour and we were in the hotel lounge. We talked and had a nice chat. Her sister was there and it was all quite wholesome. Of course, I tried to ruin it all by inviting her back to my hotel room, but she wisely said, `Uh-uh, ain't going for that.' ''
Four-and-a-half years ago, Fogerty began ``Blue Moon Swamp.'' He suffers over his recordings. When he made the Creedence records, he and his then-lifelong associates -- bass player Stu Cook, drummer Doug Clifford and rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty -- rehearsed every day for weeks before record ing. Once in the studio, the band would lay down basic tracks and Fogerty would overdub any additional instruments, perform the vocals and mix the album within a couple of weeks. His solo records have been more torturous.
Fogerty worked on ``Blue Moon Swamp'' every day. It took 18 months before he completed one track he deemed usable. The budget reportedly soared past $1 million. When he couldn't find anyone else who could do it to his satisfaction, he spent more then three years teaching himself dobro well enough to play the parts on his record.
``More than anything, getting the musicians right was the thing that eluded me,'' he said. ``What that means when I say that is getting it to really feel like I thought it should feel.''
Fogerty used a large number of session musicians on the album, including Linda Ronstadt bassist Bob Glaub and John Mellencamp drummer Kenny Aronoff, who will join the band on tour.
For Fogerty, it has never been enough simply to play the song and capture a mistake-free performance on tape. His compositions, he has always said, appear in his imagination as full-blown productions, as records, and his mission has been to re-create the sounds he hears inside his head as exactly as he can. His perfectionist instincts sent him through more than 25 drummers while cutting ``Blue Moon Swamp.''
``I was searching for a really rocking record,'' Fogerty said. ``I didn't want it to be some guy's impression of a rock 'n' roll record. It has to be a rock 'n' roll record. The record speaks for itself. You put it in there and, in five seconds, either it is or it ain't. Start with the drums. The drums is the foundation of the house. If it's not right, no matter how much garbage -- echo
and fuzz and doo-wah doo-wah -- on there, if it's not right, well . . . you can be a tricky producer-mixer and maybe cover it up a little. It's so much better when the drums are cool.''
Yet for all his obsessive refinements, the finished record sounds anything but labored. On ``Blue Moon Swamp,'' Fogerty aims all his formidable skills at the heart of rock 'n' roll and hits a bull's-eye. More than just a comeback, this album convincingly stakes his claim as one of rock's most forceful, original stylists.
Each of the dozen new songs is stamped with his signature vocals and swampy guitar blends. They range from the trademark twangy guitar of ``Blue Boy'' to the Rolling Stones-style crunch of ``Bring It Down to Jelly Roll,'' from the country romp ``Rambunctious Boy'' to the eerie ``Walking in a Hurricane,'' the first single. Fogerty makes no concessions to trends, just the same basic rock 'n' roll music he always did.
``What I used to say all the time -- and I still do -- is that I'm trying to make records that will be played in 10 years. I used to say that all the time around 1969-70. I wanted to go right to the purity, the center of rock 'n' roll, and not be surrounded with this stuff that was the in-and-out phases of any given time -- meaning wah-wah pedals and go-go girls, those things that sort of trap you in a time.''
He ponders the fate of an authentic rock 'n' roll record in 1997 (``no one knows''), and mutters something about liking the new Wallflowers record. It's not easy to measure up to his exacting values.
``Nirvana was pretty cool,'' he said. ``I don't know if you call that rock 'n' roll. In my mind set, that doesn't rival Jerry Lee Lewis. That's what my standards are for myself.''
Fogerty never forgets the lineage that led to his own place in rock history; it's always there, hovering over his shoulders. Creedence first exploded on the scene in 1968 with Fogerty's interpretation of ``Suzie Q,'' Dale Hawkins' landmark '50s Louisiana rock 'n' roll number. The original featured on guitar a teenage James Burton, who became one of the music's defining instrumentalists.
``When I've got my guitar stuff together now, I think I'm pretty cool,'' Fogerty said. ``I also see James Burton's light way down the track and I go, `OK, buddy, another 25 years, I'll be down there.' Course, by then he'll be . . . but I'm willing to put the time in. I don't see anybody else standing there doing that.''
The singer-songwriter will perform his songs from his Creedence Clearwater Revival days in the '60s and '70s to his new album, ``Blue Moon Swamp,'' next Sunday and May 19 at the Fillmore Auditorium, 1805 Geary Blvd., San Francisco. Tickets: $30. Call (510) 762-BASS.
Quotes from John on the album:
Courtesy of Swedish evening magazine Kvallsposten April 12, 1997
''When I visited Mississippi it was also the start of my own awakening. A process which had then followed the recordings of this album. Suddenly I had found the place where I should be''
"My heros when I was young was James Burton and Don Rich from Buck Owens band. Spectacular and tasteful at once."
''Centerfield took a long time since I did everything myself. I even learned to play the instruments I hadn't played before. This time I wanted to do it the opposite way. I put together a four piece band, but after playing together a couple of weeks I relised that this format also had it's limitations. So I started to look again and picked the musicians that fit each particular song.''
''After the Eye of The Zombie album I did a tour but after that I retired. It was during this period that I met my wife, had a couple of kids and I stayed in contact with the musicbusiness by producing Duke Tomato, a roadhouse band from the mid-west. But a lot of the time I had a feeling I hadn't come far enough as a musician. So I packed my bags and traveled down to Mississippi, wrote down my impressions, read alot and listened to the local music. I went back there 5-6 times.''
''It's fantastic when you think about it how many great musicians that come from such a small part of this country.''
Quotes from the press on the album:
Courtesy of Swedish evening magazine Kvallsposten April 12, 1997
''An album that makes us forget about Eye of The Zombie and which shows us a more mature side of Fogerty. But there's also hints of Creedence , Blue Ridge Rangers and his first solo album from 1975''
''This time he's taken us on a journey to to both Louisianas swamps, the sun-epok in Memphis, 60's r&b in Alabama and early country. An album that will stand as a model for the late 90's No Depression bands.''
''Already in the intro to Southern Streamline he's hooking his old fans as well as taking a new generation in his grip. It's classic Fogerty but this time the rythm-section is tighter at the same time as John is showing of his brilliance as one of James Burtons most talented disciples as well as playing the dobro and pedal steel''
''But there are also songs that are more like classic Creedence. Rambunctious Boy was meant as a
classic country song but Fogerty thought it was too much country so he started over again. The result is the type of country rock that Creedence were the masters of.''
''But already in the next track, Joy of My Life, his first real lovesong, in this case dedicated to his wife Julie, he does antic style hillbilly country with dobro and acoustic guitar''
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