1970: the year Creedence Clearwater Revival were the biggest band in the world

Creedence Clearwater Revival usually strikes someone as one of the last groups to become a big deal. Looking at how they dressed and how they conducted themselves onstage, there didn’t seem to be anything particularly eye-catching about them, just being a few regular guys who got together to form a band. By the time they got to 1970, though, they had become a rock and roll institution that could compete with the best in the business.

Throughout their first few years, John Fogerty still worked out what he wanted the outfit to be. On their first album, it’s easy to hear them cribbing their ideas from the biggest names in the blues down to playing mostly covers like ‘Suzie Q’ and ‘I Put A Spell On You’ on their first album.

Once Fogerty started to put his original tunes into the mix, ‘Proud Mary’ and ‘Born on the Bayou’ had a strange effect on the rock world. Although many musical tastes were divided when it came down to political agendas or styles of music, CCR was the band for everybody, clad in the same kind of flannel shirts that most people would wear when they went to work every day.

They also had the kind of work ethic that no one else could have imagined. Years before King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard had the idea of releasing multiple albums every year, Creedence was able to pump out three records within months of each other, each of them boasting even more classics.

For all of the slice-of-life songs that they made, they were also getting stronger on every album. If Bayou Country was the sound of them discovering what they were going to be later, Willy and the Poor Boys was the closest thing to an art rock album that they had ever made, making an entire concept of a junkyard band playing on pots and pans and whatever else they could find.

Aside from being one of the few icons who could claim to have played The Woodstock festival, their appearance at The Royal Albert Hall was where they solidified their legacy. Playing in a field to a bunch of stoned hippies may have been a high point, but after coming off of their classic Cosmo’s Factory, the group were finally entering the arena of the all-time greats.

When looking out at the landscape in front of them, drummer Doug Clifford thought that they had reached the kind of audience that he never believed was possible, telling Ultimate Classic Rock, “We were in the Beatles’ house. We were a four-piece, no-frills band – and the bottom line was in concert, we sounded like we did on our records. I didn’t know of any other bands I would go and see that sounded like their records.”

Before Fab fans jump down Clifford’s throat, it’s not like he was that far off. When looking through the amount of chart hits that the group had, they were at least in the conversation of being one of the biggest bands in rock after The Beatles had fizzled out, which naturally meant only one thing…it would all come crashing down.

When working on Pendulum from the same year, the cracks had already begun forming around the outfit, including Fogerty’s song that memorialised the group on ‘Have You Ever Seen the Rain’. Within months after their blockbuster year, Fogerty’s brother and rhythm guitarist Tom would leave the group, leading to them continuing on as a trio and limping through their final album with Mardi Gras.

Since then, any hope of the original lineup getting back together has been a pipe dream, with the group only reuniting at a few personal get-togethers and still finding themselves in trouble with each other in court to this day. As much as they may have burned the bridges between themselves, though, they will always have the memory of them as a bunch of normal guys taking over the world in 1970.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *