Creedence Clearwater Revival was one of the top American acts from 1968 until their split in 1972. Their leader, John Fogerty, released an album under the name The Blue Ridge Rangers in 1973 that got away from the CCR sound, with covers of classic country songs. For his next album, released in 1975 under his own name, he wanted to re-establish himself as a rocker, which he did on this song, which is the first single.
The 2:50 "Rockin' All Over The World" finds Fogerty singing about life as musician bringing rock to the masses, which is something he knew well. The song did well, but the album stalled at #78. The following year, Fogerty said in an interview with Phonograph Record, "When I finished it, there was something wrong that I just couldn't put my finger on. It sounded dated in a way, like it should have come out in 1971."
Bruce Springsteen added this song to his setlist when he toured the UK in 1981, typically playing it as part of his encore. The song would show up again on tours in 1985 and 1993, then occasionally at concerts in the '00s and '10s.
Typical of Fogerty's solo work, he played all the instruments on this track and did all the vocals himself.
The British group Status Quo took this to #3 in the UK with their 1977 cover. Their guitarist Rick Parfitt got the idea to cover the song; he first heard it after a night in the studio when copious amounts of alcohol were consumed. Driving home, he stopped to pick up what he thought was a hitchhiker, but was really a mailbox. Realizing he was quite impaired, he turned on the radio and "Rockin' All Over The World" came on, which he later suggested to the band.
"When we all heard it, it just sounded piddly to us," Quo frontman Francis Rossi
told us. "But once we'd done the track and then Rick got that kind of 'Singin' in the Rain' piece on the end, it started to build into something."
Status Quo made this the title track of their 1977 album, and embarked that year on the "Rockin' All Over The World" tour. This tour, however, skipped America. After making stops in the US the previous four years, the group gave up on the States, where their only significant hit was the 1968 track "Pictures Of Matchstick Men
This was the first song performed at Live Aid. Status Quo was the opening act at the London stage, and played it first in their set, which also included "Caroline" and "Don't Waste My Time."
Status Quo re-recorded the song in 1988, to support Sport Aid, as "Running All Over The World" with slightly amended lyrics. The new version reached #17 in the British Singles Chart.
The song has been reworked by the supporters of several football teams. Southend United fans, for instance, began singing "Shrimping All Over the World" after the 2004 Football League Trophy final and it is now their anthem. Also supporters of the Northern Ireland national football team often sing the song, particularly on away trips, changing the lyrics to "Drinkin' All Over the World."
Status Quo have a devoted rock following who love this song, even thought it's one of their poppier efforts. As Francis Rossi tells it, even in 2013 when they played the Sweden Rock festival, metal bands were clearly enjoying this song. "It went out as a single and it was just monstrous," he said. "I don't really understand why."
By the time Quo were ready to film the video, bassist Alan Lancaster had moved to Australia to get married. When the band asked him to fly back for the promo, he refused. Quo's solution was to replace him with a life-sized puppet with a guitar, its strings operated by the band's manager from the studio ceiling. "I didn't mind the puppet," Lancaster told Q magazine April 2013, "But that was the first time we'd done something without all four of us."
John Fogerty recorded his original during a dark period when he was boycotting his old Creedence Clearwater songs; he isn't concerned that many people think it was penned by Status Quo. He told Uncut: "It's wonderful to have a cover that's much better known than the original. Even at the time, when I was still lost in the woods, the fact that there was a song I'd written that was doing quite well made me feel much better."