John Fogerty vividly remembers the first time he ever set foot on the Hollywood Bowl stage.
It was June 14, 1969 and his band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, had several monster hits on the radio and topping the music charts, including “Suzie Q,” “Proud Mary,” “Born on the Bayou” and “Bad Moon Rising.”
Fogerty, who grew up in the Bay Area, said he’d heard of other acts performing at the Hollywood Bowl, including the Beatles and the Doors, so forking over about $10,000 to a promoter — who may or may not have still been living at home with his parents at the time — to secure a date at the iconic Southern California venue sounded like a solid investment back then.
“Things are quite different now,” the now 77-year-old singer-songwriter said with laugh as he recounted the transaction during a recent phone interview. “That was a bunch of money back then, but it went off well. It was Creedance at the height of their glory, you might say, and it was a lot of fun.”
Fogerty has since performed at the venue, which is currently celebrating its 100th season, numerous times and will return on July 30 to play music from throughout his over 50-year career including Creedence Clearwater Revival hits and songs from his solo efforts.
One of the reasons the venue remains such a sought after tour stop for major artists is that it’s outdoors and provides stunning views, especially on clear evenings under the stars, Fogerty said. He remembers looking out at the 18,000 fans inside the venue and compares that same view to what it was like performing at Woodstock, seeing so many fans staked up on the hillside in front of him.
“Hollywood Bowl is connected to so many great artists and iconic concerts,” he said. “There used to be a pool there, too, but now it’s now concrete. I remember hearing about either the artists jumping in the pool or the fans did during shows. If it was the Beatles, it was probably the fans; But if it was the Doors, it was probably Jim [Morrison].”
Though CCR disbanded in 1972, Fogerty kept on touring and recording as a solo act. Now, his shows are more of a family affair as his sons, guitarists Shane and Tyler of the band Hearty Har, join him on the road. During the pandemic, the family, including his wife Julie and daughter Kelsy, hunkered down in their Los Angeles area home and got through the anxiety and depression of COVID-19 by making music together. The family made videos of themselves playing some of Fogerty’s classic songs and posted them on YouTube. Eventually they had enough to release a seven-song EP, “Fogerty’s Factory,” which came out in late 2020.
With Julie serving as artistic director, Fogerty said getting the family into these video productions reminded him of his days in high school and the camaraderie he experienced being part of a cappella or choral productions.
“I sensed that feeling again and my family got to experience that,” he said. “What I really liked was that we discovered each other in that context. I was thinking we can do this down the road for as long as we want. It doesn’t have to be a song I’ve written or have sung before, we can do whatever the spirit moves us. Nowadays you don’t have to have a record deal with anyone, you can just do it and go on Twitter or TikTok for your 15 minutes, or 15 seconds, of fame.”
Fogerty even wrote his first new single in eight years during the pandemic and released “Weeping in the Promised Land” in 2021. It’s a gospel-sounding song that reflects on top issues in 2020 including the COVID-19 pandemic and the reignited Black Lives Matter movement following the murder of George Floyd in May of that year.
“I don’t think I realized there would be any song coming out of me,” Fogerty said of that time. However, he said he felt compelled to say or do something. Even his daughter, Kelsy, was moved to action, made signs and went out to protest against police brutality and systemic racism.
“She made a sign that said ‘Black Lives Matter’ and she went down there to protest just like I would have done in the ’60s,” he said. “I was so proud of her. I think that moment was when our country, well those of us that have our hearts open at least, finally understood what the wording ‘Black Lives Matter’ really meant. It’s not saying other lives don’t matter; that’s not the point. It’s saying ‘Hey, look at our plight, look at our situation and look at us as human beings instead of some story in a history book.’ That really took off over the summer and of course it was exasperated because of what our administration was at the time, but I hope we keep that fire burning until things really are improved.”
Now, Fogerty said he’s looking at the world with kinder eyes. As someone who wrote songs about the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement, he said back then he honestly believed that hippies were going to change the world.
“We thought things would be resolved but that didn’t happen, they just got quiet,” he said. “When things were flaring up again in the last five or six years so loudly, I was surprised. I literally looked at things and said ‘Man, I thought we took care of that in the 60s.’ I know that sounds naive, but I’m a much older person now and you feel things much deeper and with much more importance. When you’re young, there’s a lot of raging hormones and the rest of it, life is full of possibilities and you’re in a big hurry, going 110 miles an hour. When you’re young, you’re young.
“But as an older person, you realize how bad the inequality is,” he continued. “A place like America, which has been the beacon of hope, democracy, the American dream and all the rest of the beautiful things America stands for, when you’re older and if you’ve been lucky like I’ve been lucky in my personal situation, you realize you are just that; you’re lucky. But there are a lot of folks out there that aren’t and we need to make this American dream true for everybody.”
With: Cedric Burnside
When: 8 p.m. July 30
Where: Hollywood Bowl, 2301 North Highland Ave., Los Angeles
Tickets: $19-$90 at Hollywoodbowl.com