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John Fogerty's still rollin', 50 years on
Rollin’ down the rock ‘n’ roll river hasn’t always been smooth for John Fogerty.
But he keeps on chooglin’ nevertheless.
A Rock and Roll Hall of Famer as the leader of Creedence Clearwater Revival and a solo artist since 1972, Fogerty is considered one of American rock’s top songwriters, with some tunes -- such as “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising” and “Centerfield” -- that have reach rarified, iconic status. He’s had battles with bandmates and record executives, all detailed in his 2015 memoir “Fortunate Son: My Life, My Music,” but nowadays, 50 years after CCR’s first album, the 73-year-old musician says he’s nothing but happy.
“All that (bad) stuff has just kind of gone down into the sea. I don’t live there anymore,” Fogerty says by phone from Atlantic City. “It was important, I guess, to write a book about it ‘cause that helped me put it in print for the rest of time so I don’t even think about it anymore. If somebody wants to find out about it, they go read rather than ask me.
“So all that stuff I’m a little whimsical about now. I’ll be driving or something and I’ll think about things. Anybody’s career has peaks and valleys. I’ve had my valleys, too, but it sure feels like I’m out of those now -- and have been for awhile.”
The 50-year mark, however, has given Fogerty a bit of pause,
“I’ve known for some time that we would get here,” says Fogerty, a U.S. Army veteran who launched CCR, formerly the Golliwogs, during 1967. “It’s like train tracks or cross ties on the railroad, and you’re watching all these milestones go by underneath you that were 50 years ago -- playing at the Avalon Ballroom (in San Francisco) or recording ‘Suzie Q’ or going over to KMPX and getting the ‘Suzie Q’ tape played on the radio, which of course led to everything else...
“For the next three years or so there’s a lot of stuff that’ll be 50 -- Woodstock, for instance. But does it feel like long ago? Maybe when I think about certain things that weren’t so great. Other than that, it just seems like the blink of an eye.”
Fogerty’s focus, meanwhile, is making his present as rich as his past. He’s currently on tour with ZZ Top and, for the occasion, wrote and recorded “Holy Grail,” a collaboration with ZZ’s Billy F. Gibbons that’s Fogerty’s first new song since his 2013 album “Wrote A Song For Everyone.” “I began to think, ‘Y’know, we ought to write a song and record it kind of in honor of this tour,’” Fogerty says. “It just occurred to me that standing on a stage somewhere playing guitar with Billy Gibbons, that’s gonna be the Holy Grail. I wanted to write a song about the Holy Grail, but of course I’m not so specific in the song.”
Fogerty considers “Holy Grail” to be the first song finished for his new album, which he’s working on even as the tour progresses. He currently has “a lot of musical riffs” and other song ideas, and having a new single out is propelling Fogerty to work even harder on the material, even while he’s out on the road.
“The songwriting and getting songs recorded for this record have finally clicked into the highest priority spot on my brain,” says Fogerty, who’s also a member fo the Songwriters Hall of Fame and, honorarily, the National Baseball Hall of Fame. “Songwriting...is very special. It’s also quite mystical. Whenever I start writing again I always have to go through the same process; The first stuff you do is really crap and then you do some more stuff and that’s really crap, and it’s frustrating and annoying, even -- sometimes for months.
“But you’ve got to keep sitting down and do this job of writing songs, and you get through the crap and something clicks in and the good stuff starts coming and you just keep going. It’s the same process every time; You just have to let it play out -- and hope it happens like it always has before!” (laughs)
If You Go:
• John Fogerty and ZZ Top
• 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 27.
• DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township.
• Tickets start at $30.
• Call 313-471-7000 or visit 313Presents.com.
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