By Ed Mitchell
As the lead guitarist and frontman of Creedence Clearwater Revival, John Fogerty fused Sun Studio-era rockabilly licks with evocative imagery of the Deep South. His songwriting ability is beyond question, but Fogerty's exhilarating guitar style deserves equal billing—for proof, check out the five choice cuts below.
Recorded at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, California, in February 1966, when CCR were still laboring under the appalling bad moniker of the Golliwogs, “Fight Fire” was released as a single the following month. John’s killer opening riff, likely played on a Fender Mustang through a Fender Tremolux piggyback amp, helped earn the song a place in the box set edition of Lenny Kaye’s garage band treasure trove, Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era.
(Willy and the Poor Boys, 1969)
Sure, we could have gone with “Bad Moon Rising,” “Up Around The Bend,” “Proud Mary” or any number of great CCR songs. But “Fortunate Son” jumps the line thanks to the incredibly simple yet effective opening riff and the vitriolic lyrics, not to mention that the song has been covered by everybody from Bruce Springsteen to the Dropkick Murphys. Amazing, then, that Fogerty’s powerful indictment of privileged war dodgers was originally released as a B-side. The A-side was the equally timeless, “Down On The Corner.”
“Born on the Bayou”
(Bayou Country, 1969)
John Fogerty hadn’t even seen a bayou when he wrote his ultimate swamp rock classic. “I was trying to be a pure writer,” he once said of “Born on the Bayou.” “No guitar in hand, visualizing and looking at the bare walls of my apartment.” Fogerty apparently used a Gibson ES-175 on the studio recording of the song. This live version catches him with his ‘69 Rickenbacker ‘1996’ Rose Morris ‘Beatle Backer’ retrofitted with a bridge position humbucker and a Bigsby B5 True Vibrato unit and ‘bowtie’ bridge.
“Rockin’ All Over the World”
(John Fogerty, 1975)
Such was the success of British band Status Quo’s 1977 cover of “Rockin’ All Over the World” that many people don’t realize the song was written by John Fogerty. The man himself scored a decent hit with the song back in ’75 but “The Quo” made “Rockin’ All Over the World” their own forever when they opened Live Aid with it in 1985. It’s hard to imagine any song could have better captured the mood and excitement of that day.
“Don’t You Wish It Was True”
From those laid back opening chords to the hopped-up shuffle beat of its chorus, “Don’t You Wish It Was True” could have been lifted from any of CCR’s classic late Sixties albums. Revival was nominated for Best Rock Album Grammy in 2008, and although The Foo Fighters triumphed on the night, the album was lauded by fickle critics and fans alike.