Where: Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre
When: Saturday, doors 7 p.m., show 8 p.m.
Tickets: $20, $49.50, $69.50 (250-220-7777)
Despite past business and personal battles, John Fogerty still digs cranking out that oldtime rock 'n' roll.
The 67-year-old rocker and his band return to Victoria on Saturday. The concert caps a cross-Canada tour with the former Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman showcasing songs from his albums Cosmo's Factory (1970) and Bayou Country (1969), as well as other material.
It's obvious Fogerty - who has miraculously maintained a youthful, shaggy-haired appearance - adores what he does.
"It's just a really cool thing," he said recently from Chicago.
"Certainly, way back, playin' in front of a huge audience at some festival in 1969, that was an amazing thing. I still get the same kick now playing in front of a big audience and rockin' it out to something like Hey Tonight and Keep On Chooglin'."
In the late '60s and early '70s, CCR was a tireless hit-making machine, churning out such classics as Proud Mary, Hey Tonight, Fortunate Son, Bad Moon Rising, Green River, Lookin' Out My Back Door and Who'll Stop the Rain.
Yet for years, ensnared in legal tangles with his former label Fantasy Records, Fogerty refused to play the CCR hits he'd penned. In order to launch himself as a solo artist, he'd been forced to give up rights to his own songs. Ironically, Fogerty was compelled legally to pay royalties to play his own compositions live.
That all changed eight years ago, when Concord Records bought out Fantasy and struck a more civilized agreement.
Finally Fogerty - who in concert still sports CCR-era plaid shirts - was willing and able to deliver what the fans want: those old chart-busters.
Tensions within the band caused its breakup in 1972. The dissolution ranks among the most vitriolic in rock history, with bandmates criticizing Fogerty's headstrong leadership (as well as handling lead guitar and vocals, he wrote virtually all the songs).
Fogerty's guitar-playing brother Tom exited first, followed by bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford. Tom died in 1990, reportedly still not on speaking terms with his brother. In the mid '90s, Cook and Clifford formed Creedence Clearwater Revisited, which led to an unsuccessful lawsuit from Fogerty.
It seems the old wounds still fester. Last year, Fogerty told a Canadian reporter he would not be averse to a CCR reunion.
However, his old bandmates immediately shot down Fogerty's "never say never" remarks.
Last week, Fogerty told the Times Colonist a reunion is now "probably unlikely."
"When I did that interview, I didn't have a violent reaction to the question [of a reunion]. It must mean I'm at least open to the idea. He printed that. Within five minutes it seemed like the other guys, you know, my former bandmates, immediately protested," he said.
"They said, 'No, no, no, there's no way we'd do that! Blah, blah, blah!' I went, 'Oh, I guess there's not going to be a reunion.' To me, it was kind of humorous, you know."
Internecine squabbles aside, there's no denying Fogerty's formidable rock 'n' roll legacy. In the late 1960s, as bands like Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead experimented with self-indulgent psychedelic noodlings, Fogerty's singing tore like a rip-saw out of transistor radios across North America. His raw-throated style was influenced by his blues and soul heroes. Despite a middleclass Berkeley, California, upbringing, Fogerty created a credible persona for himself as a Southern swamp-rock hero singing of Cajun queens and being born on the bayou.
The songs were incredibly catchy. Did they just come in a flash of inspiration?
"I think most of the time, you feel like you are working on it, like you are doing something," Fogerty said.
"But it's after the initial inspiration. And whenever you get one of those inspirations, you're terrified it can never happen again. Because that part isn't something you can control."
As a singer, Fogerty says, he was influenced early on by Little Richard and Ray Charles. Howlin' Wolf was another seminal inspiration.
"That was just so mind-altering," he said. "He just sounded very spooky. Almost menacing."
Focused and ambitious from a young age, Fogerty worked hard to develop a distinctive vocal style that defined him as one of the best R&B/rock belters in the business.
"My voice was like this white middle-class kid. Squeakin' and everything. Starting around the age of 16, I started working on it, the same way you work on practising a musical instrument.
"I kept at it until I could sound like them [gritty-voiced singers]. It was really an aspiration, in a sense like a guy who wants to be a weightlifter, but he can only pump 20 pounds. But he keeps after it until he builds some muscles. And then one day, he's pumpin' iron."
From the outset, Fogerty had a sharply defined vision for Creedence Clearwater Revival - its image and look as well as the sound. His canny ability to write and perform catchy rockpop - sometimes grafted to socially conscious lyrics - struck gold, resulting in 25 million-plus in U.S. record sales.
"I knew what I wanted to do and what I wanted to be. And I could see how to do it," he said.
"The argument came because I was with people who didn't see that. I kept thinking, well, the more success and the more that works, everybody's going to see John really does know what he's doin'. But it didn't really work out that way. It's sort of funny."
In 2013 he'll release a new disc, Wrote a Song for Everyone, with new recordings of Fogerty classics, teaming him with such artists as Foo Fighters and My Morning Jacket.
Now in his seventh decade, he strives to deliver a tight and energetic concert. Fogerty still remembers, as a young man, seeing idols who did just that: B.B. King, James Brown, Hank Ballard and the Midnighters.
"It's very gratifying to be able to just soar. It's almost like you're flying, when you're presenting your music to people. To have that all click together is very exciting."
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