TOM FOGERTY (By Phil Davies)
Born Thomas Fogerty, 9 November 1941, Berkeley California
Died 6 September 1990, Scottsdale, Arizona
There were five Fogerty brothers living in the working class suburb of El Cerrito near San Francisco. John was the middle brother born in 1945. He fondly recalls his oldest brother Jim being a great R&B fan and that he grew up listening to many of our SAO favs on local radio. Elvis was king but John wanted to be Carl Perkins, "he was a real musician". His second older brother Tom was also an aspiring musician. His mother had encouraged him to study music and he was proficient with the violin and accordian. He was also a sports star playing halfback for the school until he sustained a leg injury.Times were hard when the Fogerty parents divorced in the 50s with Lucille Fogerty struggling to raise 5 sons, their ages spanning 16 years. She worked full time and studied for a teaching degree and eventually taught handicapped youngsters, quite a woman. She was also a folkie and took her sons to see Pete Seeger and Ramblin Jack Elliot in local Bay area festivals. She was also music al and her boys took turns playing any old guitars lying around the house, John recalls songs like Endless Sleep and Lost Dreams being played. John and Tom eventually paid $5 a month to rent a cheap electric guitar, Tom got into the blues during this period (his leg being in a cast from his football injury). He played football again later but music had him in its grip.
Tom. began sitting in with brother John's group the Blue Velvets, which already included future Creedence Clearwater Revival members Stu Cook and Doug Clifford. The Velvets set would've included instros by Duane Eddy, Johnny & the Hurricanes, Ventures, r&b by Ray Charles and Howlin' Wolf and songs like Hully Gully and Annie Had A Baby. Although Tom's band, the incredulously named Spider Webb & the Insects got as far as getting a contract with Del-Fi Records, recording a demo of Lyda Jane but nothing came out before they broke up in the winter of 1959. Tom sang songs like Do You Wanna Dance. John Stu and Doug had backed local black singer James Richmond on a doo wop song called Beverly Angel, released on Christy Records. The Blue Velvets began backing Fogerty at demo sessions and live performances, and Tom eventually joined them as billed lead singer (they sent demos out to people like Pat Boone but the songs all came back rejected).Under that name, they cut three very obscure singles for the small Orchestra label, owned by Wayne Farlow, in 1961 and 1962, one was Come On Baby/ Oh My Love composed by Tom and John. then Have You Ever Been Lonely /Bonita. Local dj Casey Kasem played it several times but it wasn't a hit.Neither was Yes You Did/ Now You're Not Mine. Tom had married Gail his high school sweetheart. and worked for a local utility company, they soon had two kids to feed as well.
In 63 the younger band members had graduated high school and had local jobs in gas stations, as janitors and truck drivers (who ever heard of a truck driver making it in the music biz??). Stu and Doug went to college and the band played most weekends and holidays.They saw a documentary on tv called Anatomy of A Hit, about jazz pianisy Vince Guaraldi's top 30 hit Cast Your Fate To The Wind. To their astonishment they saw the single was recorded locally, so the Blue Velvets and their early 45s and demos travelled across the bay to Frisco's Treat Avenue office. Aware on Beatlemania sweeping the nation the men in suits signed the aspiring rockers to jazz label Fantasy Records, the group's name was changed (against their wishes) by label boss Max Weiss to the Golliwogs, there's an incredible promo photo of the band in Golli uniforms and white afro Golli wigs, wonder why they never made the big time? The Golliwogs recorded half a dozen singles in the mid-'60s. At this time Tom's role in the band was far more visible than it would be in CCR. He shared lead vocals with John (in fact, Tom took all of the lead vocals on the first three singles), and the Fogerty brothers co-wrote most of theGolliwogs singles. John worked as a shipping clerk in the Fantasy office. These 45s (eventually assembled on the Fantasy LP Pre Creedence) were extremely derivative of the British Invasion and other R&B and rock trends of the day, with few hints of the swampy roots rock that would characterize CCR. Only Brown Eyed Girl (not the Van Morrison song) sold a few thousand locally. Even by the end of the Golli days, it was becoming obvious that John was much the more vital singer and songwriter. Saul Zaentz (future nemesis of John) bought Fantasy out in 66 and together with the band agreed to find a new name. Tom had a pal whose workmate's name was Credence Nuball, he threw that into the name hat. They added an extra E making it Creedence like a creed, Clearwater came from a beer commercial, reminding them of purity and Revival like a spoof old time revival show, and for John a revival in roots rocking. An antidote to the other Bay area psychedlic caterwaulings. They played an xmas eve gig in 67 as CCR
John went to college but in 66 Uncle Sam knocked, Doug and John became reservists in the Coast Guard and Army respectively. John married and had a child. By the time they started releasing material under the name Creedence in 1968, John was firmly in control of the band's musical direction. He wrote Porterville in the army and it became CCR's first 45 in early 68, written under the alias T Spicebush Swallowtail, it flopped but follow up Susie-Q reached number 11 in Billboard and I Put A Spell On You made 52 before swamp gem Proud Mary hit number 2 spawning later covers from their heroes Elvis and Ike & Tina! Sunalike Bad Moon Rising and Green River all hit the 2 spot, Down On The Corner reached 3, Little Richard inspired Travellin' Band hit 2, Up Around The Bend 4, Lookin' Out My Back Door hit 2 making CCR one of the world's biggest bands between 68 and 71. In the UK my 6/8d helped put the great Memphis sounding Bad Moon Rising on Liberty at number one. Debut lp CCR reached a respectable 52 in '68, whilst Bayou Country, Willy & the Poor Boys and Pendelum reached the top 10. Green River and Cosmo's Factory (with Ooby Dooby, My Baby Left Me and Before You Accuse Me on it) reached number one. The band played Woodstock, perfectionist John vetoed the band being in the film, costing the band big bucks when the film and triple album were mega hits.
Only one Tom Fogerty composition, "Walk on the Water" (which had actually first been recorded by the Gollis in 1966), would appear on a CCR album, credited to both John and Tom under the joint composition agreement that held in the Golli days. In early 1971, after five LPs and more than a half-dozen huge hit singles, Tom left the band, fed up of playing rhythm guitar frustrated by the lack of opportunity to sing and contribute his own material. No doubt a teeny bit jealous of his younger sibling's place as Mr CCR too. The group would continue for a trio for one final album before disbanding leading to years of biterness and acrimony.When the band were elected to the RnR HOF, John only agreed to appear on the final star jam if his former band mates were left out.
In subsequent years, Tom would often complain that his contributions to the early days of CCR were overlooked, particularly as it had been he who had sung lead on most of their recordings prior to 1966; he who wrote material with John in the Golli days; and he who took care of much of the business end of the band in the pre CCR era. That all may be true, and it may be that John did not go out of way his way to give his brother credit for this. But the hard truth is that the group would have never gotten anywhere if John had not stepped forward with his songs, voice, and guitar playing; they would have been just another garage and bar band. This would be emphasized, perhaps unintentionally, by the results of Tom Fogerty's solo career.
Fogerty signed with Fantasy as a solo artist and nearly made the Top 100 with his debut single, 1971's "Goodbye Media Man." His first album, 1972's self-titled Tom Fogerty was the only one of his LPs to chart, topping out at number 78. More important to note than his meagre chart performance, however, is the meagre musical value of the solo recordings themselves. While at least not blatant attempts to copy CCR they were unexceptional, pedestrian rock . As a singer, Tom didn't sound much like his brother; actually, the problem was that he didn't sound like anyone in particular, his lack of vocal power and personality suggesting he was ill-suited for fronting a band or launching a solo career in the first place. Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders played on some of Fogerty's sessions, and Stu & Doug of CCR were the rhythm section on his 1973 album Zephyr National which also had some contributions from John. A single from the album, "Joyful Resurrection," strongly echoed the vintage CCR sound and, perhaps not coincidentally, was Tom Fogerty's best solo track.
Fogerty continued to record, to little sales or public acclaim, throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The other 3 former CCR members became increasingly estranged from John in disputes over use of the CCR catalog and John's feuds with Fantasy Records and their former financial advisers when the CCR monies vanished in an off shore bank scam. By re-signing with Fantasy in the early '80s (he had left for a couple of albums on PBR in the late '70s), Tom further alienated John although all four band members managed to set aside their grievances and play together one last time at Tom's wedding in 1980. The brothers, sadly, grew further apart over the course of the 1980s before Tom died in 1990 of AIDS, believed by his family to have resulted from blood transfusions he received during operations for back trouble.
Bad Moon Rising - the unoffical history of CCR by Hank Bodowitz.
The most depressing read about one of my all time heroes John Fogerty. Makes Phil & Don's or Lennon & McCartney's bitterness seem like the Disney channel. The wife of one CCR member calls their story the saddest in r'n'r and this book pulls no punches.
The early Creedence albums when they were a quartet.
CCR/Bayou Country/Green River/Willy & the Poorboys/Cosmo's Factory and with reservations Pendulum
Make sure you get these on the recentish digipak format, sound crisper than earlier reissues.
Both volumes of Chronicle released via Ace are also recommended.
I'm not a fan of the Golliwogs stuff but it also is available, best bought on the Complete CCR box set where you can listen to the good stuff as well. I bought Tom's debut solo album when it came out, it was so disappointing that I never checked out the rest of his stuff afterwards. Mind you if John had released Hoodoo or Eye Of The Zombie first I would have deserted him too!
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