John Fogerty Thought Creedence’s Woodstock Set ‘Wasn’t Remarkable’
Creedence Clearwater Revival's complete performance at Woodstock finally saw release this year, five decades after their 11-song set on Aug. 16, 1969.
But they didn't appear in the original movie or soundtrack album, mostly because former frontman John Fogerty initially thought their set "wasn't remarkable."
Blame the late-night environment, following a group of legendary jam-rockers and – most particularly – an early sampling from their label that didn't feature CCR's strongest songs.
"I don't think any of us realized that our set was being recorded," Fogerty tells UCR. "I don't think anybody actually knew that. Some months after the actual festival of Woodstock, I got a reel-to-reel tape in the mail and it was 'Bad Moon Rising.' ... 'Bad Moon Rising' was okay, [but] like that commercial on TV, Is just okay gonna be okay? Well, I thought, 'Never mind.'"
Creedence Clearwater Revival performed on Saturday night at Woodstock, following the Grateful Dead. The entire schedule continued to get pushed back, as performances ran long – including the Dead. CCR didn't end up going onstage until after midnight.
"Creedence famously had issues because we were on so late and the audience was asleep, mostly caused by hippie dysfunction and the fact that we followed the Grateful Dead, who were obviously in character so it really impacted our set, if a million people, or close to it, were asleep," Fogerty says. "We actually played a really hot set, in spite of the fact that the audience was in such disarray in the middle of the night. But I wasn't offered 'Keep on Chooglin',' or 'The Night Time Is the Right Time' or 'Suzie Q.'"
This was a critical moment for CCR, who had just released the second of their three 1969 albums: Bayou Country was issued in January, Green River arrived a few weeks before Woodstock and Willy and the Poor Boys followed later in November.
"Creedence was white-hot, the hottest thing on Earth at the moment," Fogerty says. "And I just thought, 'Why do I want to be in a movie showing everybody's dysfunction and the audience asleep?' I demurred, as they say. So, we weren't on the soundtrack and we weren't in the movie. I never second-guessed that decision."
Still, the celebrated soundtrack promptly went to No. 1 – and Creedence Clearwater Revival's role in the historical moment risked being lost to history. Fans wouldn't hear any of CCR's performances until a trio of songs appeared on the 2009 Woodstock 40 Years On: Back to Yasgur's Farm box set.
By then, Fogerty had softened his stance. "Creedence did very very well moving on past that, and it wasn't an issue," he recalls. "But time went by and they started doing retrospectives, and I think, at the 25th anniversary of Woodstock, they had a director’s cut, and I said, 'Sure, if you wanna put something in there, that's okay with me.' My bandmates had been making a lot of noise about my bad decision, as far as they were concerned, so I said, 'Okay, fine.'"
As for the new album, simply titled Live at Woodstock, Fogerty says, "I imagine that's pretty good, because I know we played really well. I haven't listened to it."