Sunday's big show: John Fogerty at Old National Centre

John Fogerty


Editor's note: We picked the top ten biggest shows going down in Indianapolis over the Fourth of July holiday weekend for our cover story this week. Click here to browse our huge shows by day, and click here to browse the complete music calendar for 102 more shows to hit up this weekend.

So, why should you go to this Sunday show? 

Because hearing John Fogerty play classic CCR songs is still awesome. 

From the 1980s through 1997, John Fogerty refused to play any songs in concert that he wrote for his legendary rock band, Creedence Clearwater Revival.

During that period, he was embroiled in a series of lawsuits over the ownership and use of his Creedence songs. Most of the disputes involved Saul Zaentz, the former head of his record company in the Creedence years, Fantasy Records.

Eventually, Zaentz retained ownership of the Creedence catalog, but Fogerty made peace after his bitter battle, realizing that while he didn't own his Creedence catalog, he knew — and so did his fans — who wrote the songs and he should reclaim that part of his life and legacy by once again playing the songs in concert.

"That's probably the most horrible decision anyone could make, and I'm sure it's probably cost me in a business sense," Fogerty says, of his decision to not play Creedence songs in a recent phone interview. "But it was what my heart had to go through to get here ... That's what I had to go through to really be grateful and thankful for what I have now."

These days, Fogerty is so at ease with his Creedence past and his now-settled legal battles that he is even celebrating what many consider the pinnacle of his Creedence years with a tour called 1969.

The title represents the year in which Creedence Clearwater Revival released three — count 'em, three — albums. Those releases — Bayou Country, Green River and Willy and the Poor Boys — and the hit songs from those albums (including "Proud Mary," "Lodi," "Bad Moon Rising," "Green River" and "Fortunate Son") turned CCR into one of the era's most popular bands and gave Fogerty a catalog that, even without his notable subsequent success as a solo artist, would have sustained his music career for as long as he wanted to play shows.

Ironically enough, Fogerty says his determination to crank out three Creedence albums in one year and his estrangement from his own catalog of Creedence songs for nearly two decades were dictated by the same motivation — to never make decisions based on business.

Just as Fogerty felt in his heart he deserved to gain ownership of the Creedence song catalog because he wrote the songs, he went on the songwriting jag that produced the three 1969 albums, not because he was motivated by profit, but because he was determined to prove himself as a songwriter and solidify Creedence's standing as a band.

"Basically my band had one hit, 'Suzie Q,'" Fogerty says, mentioning CCR's single from its 1968 self-titled debut album. "So we were in dire danger of ending up on the rocky shore of all the one-hit wonders down through the years of rock and roll. And I really, I'm a competitive person. I just really didn't want that to happen."

Realizing he was on a small record label with limited resources, Fogerty decided writing lots of songs gave Creedence the best shot at success.

"I actually said this to myself, 'I guess I'm just going to have to do it with music,'" he says. "So I set, kind of put my shoulder to the grindstone, I guess you'd say, and just got really, really busy."

Fogerty's fears about being a one-hit wonder were allayed when he wrote "Proud Mary," a song that would become the centerpiece of Bayou Country and a top five single.

"Once I had written 'Proud Mary,' the heavens opened up," Fogerty says. "Right there that afternoon as I was writing that song, I knew that this was a great song. I knew this was what they used to call a standard. They probably call it a classic now. This was far above any song I had ever written in my life."

Fogerty kept up the pace — and quality — of his songwriting, finishing Green River ("It was my favorite album of the era because it was closest musically to the, I don't know, to my bullseye," he says) and then another gem, Willy and the Poor Boys, by the end of summer 1969.

But by the time of the next album, 1970's Cosmo's Factory, inner-band tensions were intensifying over Fogerty's control of Creedence's songwriting and business, and after touring the 1972 album Mardi Gras, the band broke up.

Still, the six straight hit albums Creedence released from 1968 to 1970 remains one of the most impressive runs for any band in rock history. And now Fogerty is celebrating the memorable year of 1969 by playing the trio of that year's albums on tour. He credits his wife, Julie, with the concept for the tour.

"I've been dancing around that for years and years because people would make note of the three albums in 1969," Fogerty says. "And sometimes I've gone out and done shows that presented this album or that album in its entirety. It's funny that it was staring me in the face. I never thought of it. Julie, finally one day said 'Why don't we focus on that one year?' It was like well yeah, especially (because), I think at the time I thought it was a pretty cool thing. But now, as a concept for a show, I think it's just a really great idea."

- Alan Sculley 

John Fogerty

Sunday, July 5

Murat Theatre at Old National Centre, 502 N. New Jersey St.,

8 p.m. prices vary, all-ages


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