Why Creedence Clearwater Revival Broke Up

Creedence Clearwater Revival – commonly known as CCR – achieved massive success in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Led by frontman John Fogerty, the band released classics such as “Fortunate Son”, “Bad Moon Rising”, and “Have You Ever Seen the Rain”. But it wouldn’t take long before friction arose within the band. Just 4 years after the band released their debut album, CCR disbanded indefinitely. In this article, I will discuss why Creedence Clearwater Revival broke up.

Friction Within the Band

Around the early 1970s, at the height of CCR’s fame, the overwhelming feeling arose among band members Tom Fogerty, Stu Cook, and Doug Clifford, that John Forgerty was overly dominant in CCR’s creative route. Up until that point, Fogerty was the exclusive songwriter of the band (aside from some of CCR’s famous covers of course).

Beyond that, Fogerty felt Creedence Clearwater Revival had to be on the charts, otherwise, the band would fall out of the public eye. Rather than releasing their best songs as individual singles over a longer period of time, CCR released double A-side singles in quick succession. Much to the frustration of the other band members.

John Fogerty, however, didn’t understand the complaints of his bandmates. He was solely responsible for CCR’s success, having written all their hits, and his lucky band members still found something to complain about. It actually inspired one of the band’s most famous songs “Have You Ever Seen the Rain”. It describes, from Fogerty’s perspective, the rain the other members brought over to the sunny success of the band.

Tom Fogerty’s Departure

Tom Fogerty, John’s brother and rhythm guitarist of CCR, was the first to grow disillusioned with his brother’s dominance of the band. In early 1971, after the recording of the band’s sixth studio album Pendulum (which featured “Have You Ever Seen the Rain”), Tom Fogerty resigned from the band.

The remaining members of Creedence Clearwater Revival considered replacing Tom but eventually decided to continue as a trio.

A New Approach

In the spring of 1971, John Fogerty, frustrated with the bandmates’ complaints about their lack of creative control, suggested a new approach. He proposed a democratic way of the band’s songwriting process, where each member would write their own material.

The band’s final album, “Mardi Gras”, was the first album that featured songs written by Cook and Clifford. Each member sang lead vocals on their own songs, just as Fogerty proposed. Sadly enough, the album was considered a critical failure, especially in contrast with CCR’s earlier releases.

The End Creedence Clearwater Revival

After the critical failure of “Mardi Gras”, the relationships within the band reached a breaking point. John Fogerty wasn’t only in conflict with Cook and Clifford, but also felt that the band’s relationship with Fantasy Records was problematic. He believed that the band had not received the contract they had been promised. Cook, in his return, blamed Fogerty for the band’s bad record deal.

In October 1972, CCR and Fantasy Records officially announced the disbandment of Creedence Clearwater Revival. John Fogerty embarked on a solo career, while Cook and Clifford formed The Don Harrison Band. The original band, with all four members, reunited only once, at Tom Fogerty’s wedding in 1980.

Sadly enough, that isn’t where CCR’s story ends. After the break-up of the band, lawsuits emerged between the people involved with CCR, especially between John Fogerty and Fantasy Records. As a result, Fogerty refused to play the band’s material during live performances, as he had to pay performing royalties to Fantasy Records to perform his own songs.

In January 2023, Fogerty announced he finally owned the material of Creedence Clearwater Revival after a 5-decade-long legal battle. 5 decades, in which, CCR remained extremely popular. Despite the band’s short-lived stint and internal conflicts, their music continues to reach audiences to this very day.

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