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Article 26

Rock On

CCR -Born on the Bayou?

(Published in Times of India, Pune on 22th December, 2001)


S trange names for Rock bands were the norm in those crazy psychedelic times of the sixties and India was no exception to this phenomenon. Some of the bizarre band names of those days that immediately come to mind are "Apple Rock Conspiracy", "Four Gone Conclusions", the Combustibles" etc. Ajit Singh actually had a band called "The Love Grove Purification Plant" named after the sewage treatment plant in Worli, Mumbai! Those were heady days in Bombay when house full 'beat shows' were held in famous city auditoriums like Shanmukananda Hall and Bhulabhai Desai Auditorium, with screaming girls and guys dressed in their trendiest! We kids were not going to be left behind as we got our electric guitars together to form a band with a suitable name that could adequately convey the vibe that surrounded our very beings. We finally honed in on the name "Velvette Fogg" and the strange spellings were my very own contribution to this mystical, vibrant sensation that we were experiencing in our sensitive teenage minds

One of the bands, with an equally strange name that we constantly covered in those early days was the clean, strong, driving Bayou Rock of "Credence Clearwater Revival". They were to later become one of my strongest musical influences, especially in the early days of my singing career. The answer to the very pertinent question of the relevance of Indian Rock may be found in the origins of this outstanding music sensation. How could a group create authentic Southern American Cajun Rock music, a combination of elements of rock and roll, rhythm and blues, blues, country, gospel and various bayou styles despite the fact that they emerged in El Cerrito, a suburb in San Francisco Bay Area, and had never ever seen the Mississippi bayou? And yet it was to be! As Stu Cook, the bass player said "We wouldn't have known a "Cajun vibe" if it had stopped to talk to us. None of us had ever been to Louisiana or the bayou in our lives." It is said that John Fogerty was heavily influenced by southerners, among them bluesmen such as Muddy Waters, Lightnin' Hopkins, Howlin' Wolf, etc. along with the blues and rockabilly of Elvis, Carl Perkins and the country music of Hank Williams. Living a boring life in downtown El Cerrito was definitely not John's idea of fun and he created an imaginary mystical world from this great music that was driving him crazy. Not very unlike us wild guys in dreary Bombay who would ordinarily have to be content with the music churned out by the Bollywood Film Industry of that time!

For two years, 1969 and 1970, Credence Clearwater Revival was the most popular rock band in America. During those years the group released five of its seven albums and seven hit singles. All seven singles reached the top ten of the U.S. pop charts. These were songs that would become classics over the years, songs like "Proud Mary", "Born On the Bayou", "Bad Moon Rising", "Lodi", "Green River", "Commotion", "Travelin' Band", "Who'll Stop the Rain", "Looking Out My Back Door" and "Long As I Can See the Light". Of their albums, both "Green River" and "Cosmo's Factory" reached no 1, with the latter being their best seller.

John Fogerty dominated the band with his prodigious musical talent. On their first six albums, he did all the vocals and played lead guitar. He also wrote all of their songs, arranged and produced each cut, and managed the band. Depending on whose side you were listening to, it was this all-encompassing control that was to become one of the reasons for the ultimate demise of the band when the other members demanded a piece of the action. This resulted in the sharing of songwriting, singing and producing credits for the album, "Mardi Gras". Unfortunately, the album was an artistic and commercial failure and the group disbanded shortly afterwards, in late 1972.

This regrettable event coincided with a 10-year hiatus from the music business for the genius John, who went through the musical equivivalent of the writer's block. He attributed this to a dispute with Fantasy, his record company, over compensation and publishing rights. The negative energy generated by this dispute almost destroyed the great master as he nearly totally rejected the existence of CCR and it's musical heritage. Fortunately, in 1985 with the release of his solo album "Centerfield", this phase was temporarily halted. For two years, John came back into the music scene with significant success but he once again slide back into oblivion only to come back in 1996.

1972-1996, an almost 25 year hiatus from the entertainment industry is an unheard of phenomenon, especially in today's fast paced world but the masterminds of this world make their own rules. Today John is once again with us, recording albums and performing live for his fans. He finally seems to have made his peace with the world. One just can't help wondering about the great music that could have been made by this great singer/composer/guitarist/lyricist during his long absence from the music world. But I guess, we'll never know, will we?

Rock on!

Nandu Bhende

http://nandu_bhende.tripod.com


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