Someday Finally Comes

With the November 1st release on the Fantasy label of The Long Road Home: The Ultimate John Fogerty-Creedence Collection, the book closes on possibly the most bitter battle in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. Until now, the sight of the words “Fantasy” and “Fogerty” in the same sentence usually meant the term “lawsuit” was nearby.

But with The Long Road Home on the shelf, so is decades of acrimony between the prodigal Fogerty and his original record label home.

“There’s no way to overstate how cool this is,” Fogerty said.

In an almost impossibly productive period from 1968-71, Creedence Clearwater Revival churned out concise, often socially conscious rock hits like “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Down on the Corner,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” and “Green River.” That burst of work alone earned CCR induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Fogerty wrote and sang them all.

But when the band, which comprised Fogerty, his brother Tom, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford, broke up in the early 1970s, the messy split sparked a feud with former Fantasy owner Saul Zaentz that spawned a string of lawsuits spanning decades.

Not only did Fogerty have to sign away most of the rights to his music to get out of his Fantasy contract, but much of the money he and the band made was lost in an offshore tax-shelter deal arranged by the label, according to The New York Times.

Fogerty essentially became a recluse until 1985 when he released Centerfield, including barely disguised contempt for Zaentz with songs like “Mr. Greed” and “Vanz Kant Danz” (renamed from “Zanz Can’t Dance,” after, of course, a lawsuit).

But perhaps the most bizarre suit came when Fogerty was forced to prove he didn’t plagiarize himself on “The Old Man Down the Road,” which Fantasy, still owned by Zaentz, claimed was a self-ripoff of CCR’s “Run Through The Jungle.”

The crowning blow came when brother Tom Fogerty publicly took Zaentz’s side in the feud. The brothers were still estranged when Tom died in 1990.

Zaentz sold Fantasy Records to Concord Music Group last year, and Fogerty immediately requested a meeting with the new leadership. Concord restored his royalty rights though not his ownership of the songs, both of which Fogerty had signed away decades ago to escape Fantasy. But Fogerty seems able to live with that.

“It’s turned out to be, for me, a very happy, wonderful time in my life and career,” he said. “Even a year ago I could not have envisioned this. The most happy thing is I am reconnected with the music I made on Fantasy Records all those years ago, that I had basically been cut off from financially and emotionally for a long, long time.”

He also recorded a DVD that will be released sometime next year, and hopes to make new music for Fantasy soon after.

As for his surviving bandmates, still touring as Creedence Clearwater Revisited, don’t expect a similar happy ending.

Comparing Cook and Clifford to a rattlesnake, “They bit me very badly in the same way that the old folks at Fantasy did,” Fogerty said. “That hasn’t changed, so I will continue to give them a very wide berth.”