Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Geezerology Roundtable: Rollin' on the kid's coattails

Ca. 1968: Tom Fogerty, Clifford, Cook, John Fogerty

Tom Fogerty had just graduated from high school in the San Francisco Bay area when he got his first big break in the music business. His band, Spider Webb and the Insects, got a recording contract from Del-Fi Records down in Hollywood, CA.

But the Insects disintegrated in 1959 before they could even got a record released. The disappointed yet still determined singer-guitarist, approaching his 18th birthday, went back home and hooked up with The Blue Velvets, a band formed by his 14-year-old brother, John, and the kid's school chums Doug Clifford and Stu Cook.

The three kids were pretty good as Tom's backing band. A couple years later, after the youngsters graduated from high school, the quartet became Tommy Fogerty & The Blue Velvets, who recorded six songs for Orchestra Records in Oakland in 1961 and '62. They got noticed by Oakland disc jockey Casey Kasem, who made a regional hit of one of those records, "Have You Ever Been Lonely."

That got the attention of Max Weiss, co-owner of Fantasy Records in San Francisco. He signed the Tommy Fogerty & The Blue Velvets to a contract in 1964, renamed them The Visions, eventually The Golliwogs, and started getting their music on tape. The Golliwogs released several singles over the next three-plus years. And in the process, Weiss noticed that Tom Fogerty's kid brother was a pretty good songwriter. He also realized that John Fogerty was a better singer than his older brother, and he saw that the kid could play some killer guitar leads. And near the end of this period, around the fall of 1967, Weiss realized the kid had learned his way around a recording studio.

1965: Clifford, Tom Fogerty, John Fogerty, Cook

So Weiss let Tom Fogerty's younger brother produce what became the band's final single as The Golliwogs, "Porterville"/"Call It Pretending." And Saul Zaentz -- who bought Fantasy Records from Weiss and his partners around this time and offered The Golliwogs a chance to record a full-length album on the condition that they ditch the racist name -- left the kid pretty much in charge to get things done.

Thus, Creedence Clearwater Revival was born. And this was no longer Tom Fogerty's band.

Here is where your favorite Geezers pick up the narrative:

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