Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Creedence Clearwater Revival, The #10 Artist of the Seventies*

Inside The Rock Era has played 90 tributes so far.  These next ten artists, more than any other, defined the music of the 70's.  Consider yourself blessed if you listened to any of these during your youth, or if you had the privilege of seeing them perform live.  All ten are extremely gifted, and they provided the world with much great music in their lifetimes.

We want to again reiterate that this is a ranking of The Top Artists of the Seventies*.  It only includes the body of work that each artist had in that decade only.  If an artist had both a solo career and a career with a group, the material recorded with the group counts for that group and the solo material counts for their solo career.  If you combined the two, you would instead call the special something like "The Most Successful People of the Rock Era".

This group, of course, was one of the dominant artists of the 60's, and even though they broke up in 1972, Creedence Clearwater Revival was so successful that they rank high in the Seventies as well.

Lead guitarist John Fogerty, drummer Doug Clifford, and pianist Stu Cook met while attending Portola Junior High School in El Cerrito, California.  They began playing as the Blue Velvets, and backed singer Tom Fogerty, John's brother, in live performances and in the recording studio.  Soon, Tom joined the band, and they signed a recording contract with Fantasy Records.  Fantasy co-owner Max Weiss renamed the group the Golliwogs.

Cook switched to bass guitar and John became the lead singer and main songwriter, with Tom playing rhythm guitar.  In 1966, John and Clifford were drafted into the United States military.  The following year, Saul Zaentz bought Fantasy Records and offered the group a chance to record an album if they changed their name.  The group members never liked the Golliwogs anyway, so they decided upon Creedence Clearwater Revival.

In 1968, Fogerty and Clifford were discharged from the military and CCR released their self-titled debut album.  The song "Suzie Q" began receiving considerable airplay in both the San Francisco Bay area as well as on influential station WLS in Chicago, Illinois.

"Suzie Q" became the first big hit for Creedence and their first million-seller.  Seven more hits, scores of great album tracks, and several Platinum albums followed, and by the end of the 60's, CCR was on fire as one of the hottest acts in the world.  They performed at the Atlanta Pop Festival and the legendary Woodstock Festival.  Creedence Clearwater Revival had three Top 10 albums in 1969 alone.

The 1969 album Willy and the Poorboys, released in November, spilled over into the following year, and "Fortunate Son" reached #14.

Creedence also received significant airplay with other tracks from the album, including their cover of the Lead Belly standard "Cotton Fields".

CCR albums are among the most consistent you will find.  A great song here from the group--"It Came Out Of The Sky".

Creedence delivered another great track form Willy and the Poorboys--"Don't Look Now".

Willy and the Poorboys went Double Platinum, with most of those sales counting more in the 70's than in the 60's.  CCR took another Lead Belly song, "The Midnight Special", and worked magic.

Creedence performed at the Oakland Coliseum Arena in Oakland, California on January 31, a show that would later be released as a live album and television special.  CCR was also featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.  

Hot on the heels of Willy and the Poorboys, Creedence Clearwater Revival released the famous album Cosmo's Factory in 1970.  "Travelin' Band" was part of a double-sided smash that preceded the album.  #2 in the U.S. and Australia, #4 in Canada, and #10 in Germany.

The flip side to "Travelin' Band" was "Who'll Stop The Rain", which contributed to the single's Double Platinum status.  It went to #1 in the Netherlands and Belgium, #2 in the United States and Australia, #4 in Germany and Canada, and #8 in Austria.

Another double-sided smash, which CCR specialized in, was next, as the group released "Up Around The Bend", a #1 song in Australia and the Netherlands, #2 in Germany, Norway, and Belgium, #3 in the U.K. and #4 in the U.S.

The flip side was "Run Through The Jungle", as CCR became one of the most popular acts of servicemen stationed in Vietnam.  The million-seller topped charts in Australia, Canada, and Sweden and also hit #4 in the United States.

CCR then released the single "Lookin' Out My Back Door", one of a Rock Era record six #2 songs in the United States.  It was #1 in every other major country in the world except the U.S., Germany (also #2) and the U.K., where it did not chart.

Although CCR was one of the most successful artists of all-time, their hits only skimmed the surface of the depth of their material.  We want to also feature four Top Tracks* from the classic album.  This is "Ramble Tamble".

The album has now sold over four million copies, thanks to great songs like "Before You Accuse Me".

Cosmo's Factory was at least a #2 album in every major country in the world, hitting #1 in the United States, the U.K., Germany, Australia, Finland, Japan, and Norway.  Another fan favorite that received significant airplay was "Ooby Dooby".

This great song was later featured among the group's best in their compilation Chronicle--"Long As I Can See The Light".

CCR had produced a classic, but the incessant touring and hours of work rehearsing and recording in the studio had taken its toll.  John had taken artistic control of the group, which did not set well with the other members.  So, even though Creedence appeared on top to the outside world, internal factors would soon contribute to their demise.

CCR released the album Pendulum later in the year.  Another smash, "Have You Ever Seen The Rain" was the leadoff single, going to #1 in Canada, #2 in Norway, #3 in Austria, #6 in Australia, Belgium, and the Netherlands, and #8 in the United States and Sweden.

The flip side of another great million-selling double-sided hit of the Rock Era, "Hey Tonight", peaked at #1 in Canada, #8 in the U.S. and #9 in Austria.

Pendulum also went Platinum, #1 in Germany, Australia, Finland, Japan, and Norway, and #2 in the United States and #5 in Canada.  But Tom Fogerty had left the group during the recording of the album.  The remaining members thought about replacing him, but decided to continue as a trio.  This is "Pagan Baby".

CCR stood out from most other acts of the Rock Era in that their albums, with the exception of their last one, were superb works in which you could play the album all the way through without skipping a "filler" track. One of the CCR songs not released as a single was "Chameleon".
"Molina" was another winner on the album.

After Tom left, brother John relented and told Clifford and Cook that he would now give them equal say into selection of songs and recording.  Clifford and Cook, who along with Tom had lobbied for more artistic input into the music of CCR, resisted this new approach, but the three equally contributed to the next project  The album Mardi Gras in 1972 went Gold, but was critically panned.  It did go to #1 in Germany, Australia, Canada, and Norway.


The single "Sweet Hitch Hiker was the group's last big million-selling hit--#1 in Canada, #4 in Norway, #5 in the Netherlands, #6 in the United States and Germany, and #9 in Sweden.

The single "Someday Never Comes" peaked at #25 but nevertheless is a Top Track* from Pendulum.

Despite the strained relationships, Creedence began a 20-date tour of the U.S., but on October 16, less than six months after the end of the tour, Creedence Clearwater Revival announced that they had split.  To their discredit, the group never officially reunited, though Cook and Clifford formed the band Creedence Clearwater Revisited. 

For most of the group's five-year existence, Creedence was at or near the top of the heap among the most successful artists of its time.  CCR's version of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine", originally released on Cosmo's Factory, was re-released in 1976.  It peaked at #43, but since has become a classic.

Creedence Clearwater Revival was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, and the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.  In 2005, John Fogerty was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

The compilation Creedence Gold went Double Platinum, and topped Album charts in both the United States and the U.K.  The following year, More Creedence Gold was also certified, well, Gold.  But the compilation that fans were waiting for was the amazing Chronicle, Volume 1 in 1976.  That double album topped Album charts in every country in the world, and has sold over eight million copies.  Approximately 40% of Chronicle's content was from the 60's, so those numbers have to be factored into the rankings, assigning the appropriate number of sales to each decade.

By those calculations, Creedence sold 13.5 million albums from their 70's material.  They enjoyed 11 hits, with eight of those Top 10 and nearly all of those huge hits.  Add in the array of outstanding album tracks, and you get CCR as The #10 Artist of the Seventies*

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