Fogerty cites the composer Stephen Foster, who wrote "Oh! Susanna
," "My Old Kentucky Home
" and many other American classics, as his biggest musical influence.
His band Creedence Clearwater Revival
broke up in 1973. Fogerty released a solo album in 1975, but then went on a long hiatus because Fantasy Records, which he despised, owned the rights to any music he made. It wasn't till 1985 that he settled his legal dispute with Fantasy and released his album Centerfield
. One good thing about his extended break: it let him sit out the disco era (Fogerty held an intractable position that "disco sucks").
Fogerty was born in Berkeley, California. He grew up in nearby El Cerrito, which he considers his hometown.
He served in the Army Reserves from 1966-67. He described most of his service time as "busy work" and a whole lot of marching. It was during this time that he developed the idea for "Porterville
." The song was significant not only because it was one of the first he'd record with Creedence Clearwater Revival, but also because it marked a landmark in his evolution as a songwriter. He has said that something in his mind clicked with writing "Porterville," and that his later hits like "Proud Mary
" and "Born on the Bayou
" stemmed from that breakthrough.
Upon gaining his discharge papers from the Army Reserves in 1967, Fogerty was so happy that he ran out to the lawn and started doing cartwheels. He then went into his house, started strumming his guitar, and channeled the line "Left a good job in the city." It was the moment when "Proud Mary" was born.
Fogerty told Guitar World that, at the age of 14, he looked up to Chet Atkins, Scotty Moore, and James Burton. He said to himself, "I wanna grow up and be like those guys. I wanna be a really, really good musician."
As a child, Fogerty got an autograph from the legendary Lightnin' Hopkins, writer of classics such as "Mojo Hand," and one of the most influential guitarists to ever pluck a string. Lightnin' signed only with an "X" and did so in secret, apparently willing to reveal his illiteracy to a boy but not to anyone else. Fogerty kept the autograph in a drawer for a long time but eventually lost it.
Fogerty calls Pete Seeger the greatest performer he's ever seen. "He'd be talking, telling a story, that skinny body of his rocking, and his head would go back, and out would come 'Michael, Row the Boat Ashore,'" Fogerty wrote in his memoir Fortunate Son. "You were there in the boat with Pete. Then he'd get everyone in the audience to sing along in three parts. It's like 'damn, how did we all just do that for an hour?'"
Fogerty played for President Obama's White House at a 2014 "Salute to the Troops" program. Though sensing potential controversy, he played "Fortunate Son
" for the service members present. The audience quickly broke into a raucous, enthusiastic display, like "frat boys." President Obama himself bopped his head along with the music.
Fogerty spent about a year practicing bottleneck guitar, trying to get good enough to satisfy his perfectionist standards. After determining the sound in his head was Dobro guitar, rather than bottleneck, he spent another three years mastering that technique.
Creedence Clearwater Revival was originally named Tommy Fogerty and the Blue Velvets, with Tom Fogerty being John's older brother. The band then adopted the name the Golliwogs for a short time before settling on CCR and staying there until their breakup.
In Fortunate Son: My Life, My Music, Fogerty says that he got into music for the sake of music itself, not for girls, fame, or money. "I got into music because of music. It was (and is) a mystical, magical thing. I just wanted to write songs, good songs, great songs, ones that Stephen Foster might not cringe at."
In fifth and sixth grade, Fogerty was a lieutenant in the "traffic patrol," overseen by Police Officer Ray Morris.
Fogerty prefers the world of children over that of adults, at least when it comes to TV. He claims to have memorized every episode of SpongeBob SquarePants.
Fogerty has been married twice. He married Martha Paiz in 1965 and had three children with her before divorcing in the 1970s. He married his second wife, Julie Kramer, in Elkhart Indiana on April 20, 1991. Fogerty met Julie during a difficult time in his life. In Fortunate Son, he relates how he was basically trapped in his own financial success. He was drinking "with a vengeance" and smoking too much. This was also the time he recorded and released Eye of the Zombie, a sub-par album that has bothered the perfectionist musician ever since. Fogerty weighed only 120 pounds and describes himself as a "freight train of sorrow." It was at this time that he met Julie, who he calls the love of his life and his savior.