I am John Fogerty – singer, songwriter, and former leader of Creedence Clearwater Revival. My new memoir FORTUNATE SON just came out. AMA.

Hey folks, John Fogerty here. You probably know some of my songs from over the years, such as “Fortunate Son,” “Proud Mary,” “Born on the Bayou,” and “Centerfield.” But you may not know the stories behind those songs or the story of my life. My autobiography tells my life story the way I see it. It’s the story of a kid from El Cerrito with a musical dream. I’m excited to talk to you all and answer any questions you may have.

To get the full story, though, you’ll have to read my book FORTUNATE SON. Available on Amazon

and B&N

Proof it’s me? Twitter

We’re going to get started at 10 AM PST/ 1 PM EST, so start preparing your questions, and I’ll stick around for an hour to get through as much as I can. Here’s your chance. Ask me anything.

Back when CCR was touring heavily, shows seemed to have a much wider variety of music on the bill. Which bands did you love to tour with? What’s one band that really surprised you when you met them in person or saw them play on stage?

Hi, I was blessed to have toured with many wonderful artists back in the day. I must say that Booker T. and the MGs were a great band to tour with and I still love them to this day. I can still remember standing in the wings while they played and hearing their wonderful music float around and through the entire arena. Each one of those guys in the band was my favorite player on their chose instrument.

As a Northern California band that sounded like they were from the swamps of New Orleans, did you feel out of touch with your local contemporaries like the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane?

It was quite the opposite. I was a kid growing up in the bay area in the 1960s and felt very much a part of my surroundings. Even though my music tended to be more “blue collar” and less “spacey”, my beliefs and personal philosophy was very much like the other bands from the Bay. My earliest inspiration was Stephen Foster, but I also learned a lot about how the world should be from the wonderful Pete Seeger, who influenced all of us. Pete taught us to care about the other guy.

You mentioned last night you were drafted into the Vietnam war. Did you have to see combat? Fortunate Son is the best song ever written.

Hi there, I was drafted in early 1966. But I was fortunate enough to get into an army reserve unit and lucky enough to stay home in the United States. Fortunate Son was certainly inspired by the events of those times and also the age old conundrum where the rich declare the war and the poor have to fight it.

Was the decision to start performing “Ramble Tamble” in concert in the past ten years or so due to fan requests or was it always a song you felt like revisiting again?

The right answer is a little of both. I’m not sure that I ever actually played that song live with Creedence.

Do you have a favorite cover version of someone performing one of your songs?

There have been several. Of course I loved Tina Turner’s version of “Proud Mary” and Solomon Burke did a great version of that song too. Also Al Wilson’s version of “Lodi” and Dropkick Murphys doing “Fortunate Son”. I really enjoyed Dawes doing “Someday Never Comes” on my most recent album. I’ve been very lucky to have some great artists doing my songs.

Of all your songs, which one of them sticks out the most as being tied to a fun memory with your son?

Hi, there are three that remind me of my boys. “Lodi” of course because we made a new version of that song together. And every night I get to have a guitar duel with Shane in the song “The Old Man Down the Road”. When the boys were little my wife and I always referred to them as the rambunctious boys. Eventually, they inspired me to write that song (Rambunctious Boy). Rock on!

I’ve always been fascinated with the story of how you visited a grave and rediscovered your own music. Can you tell us about that?

It was a hot, muggy July afternoon in Mississippi. I was almost knee-deep in flood water at the fabled site of Robert Johnson’s grave. A box-set of his music was currently a big hit. My mind drifted to the thought of his songs and who might own them after all this time. Suddenly, I got the picture of some shady lawyer in a tall building with a big cigar. I was disgusted with that thought. “It doesn’t matter Robert” I said that out loud, “Those are your songs, the whole world knows they are your songs”. In an instant I realized that that was my story, too. The parallel was inescapable. And suddenly I said to myself, “John you’ve got to start playing your songs before you’re laying in the ground there like Robert Johnson”.

Is there any modern rock bands that you listen to at the moment or are you more in to the old stuff?

Hi, I love the Foo Fighters. Is it okay to say I also really like Ed Sheeran? He makes great records. I also can be more “eclectic” with artists like Tinariwen and Bombino… It’s funny, early on I was quite the taskmaster or drill sergeant. Then after listening to the groups demands, I gave in to their “requests for democracy” in the interest of saving the band. Then the band broke up. Don’t know how I could have done it any differently today. Would love to do a song with Weezer I love “Pork and Beans” and “Beverly Hills”

How did you approach the songwriting process for those classic CCR albums? Did you start with a subject matter and lyrics or a riff first?

They were all a little bit different. Proud Mary was a burst of emotion from having just found my honorable discharge from the army. Bad Moon Rising was inspired from the late 60s interest in astrology and my memories of an old movie called “The Devil and Daniel Webster” I believe. Green River came straight outta that opening riff and the lyrics came from my childhood at Putah Creek (Crick!). Up Around the Bend came from riding my motorcycle and that riff.

At age 54 I don’t think I have a fraction of your energy– what’s your secret?

Hi, I am a very happy man. That is my secret. I am so lucky to have Julie (that’s my beautiful wife) in my life. The love we have shared together and with the family we have raised is the best tonic in the world. P.S. I run six miles a day 🙂

If you could recommend one album for everyone here to listen to, from start to finish, which would it be and why?

Good question! Listen to Ray Charles, In Person. Simply the greatest live album ever made. I could say more but you’ll know it when you hear it.

In your musical career, what is the one thing you hope to do before you call it quits? As in, if you were playing your last tour, what is the one thing that would be the absolute capstone to your live performance career?

Hi there, in my dreams I would become an incredible guitar player. Since this is my dream, my last tour would feature a different guitar hero of mine each night. One night, me and Chet (Atkins)…next night me and Django (Rheinhardt)…next night Don Rich…Somewhere along the way Jerry Douglas, Brad Paisley, Eric Johnson and I think you get the idea. Jimmy, Jeff, Eric, Jimi, BB, John Lee, Duane, Link, Scotty… Man this is going to be a great tour!

How did all the legal wrangling affect you personally? How did you feel when it was finally over?

As a child I didn’t wish to grow up and be a lawyer. I wanted to be a musician. It was frustrating and even embarrassing to be part of such a non-musical three ring circus. I am very happy now and hardly ever think about that stuff but as Yogi (Berra) said “It ain’t over, til it’s over”

I am from Elkhart, IN, and I saw you on Letterman many years ago when you said that you married a girl from Elkhart. Is that true? Do you live in the area or ever visit Elkhart?

Hi there, I married my dream girl from Elkhart, Indiana. Midwestern girls rule. We live now in California but we love to visit friends and family in that area. Notre Dame and Bonnie Doon, blue moon ice cream, can’t beat that!

If you didn’t have the ability to sing or write music, what would you be doing?

I can’t imagine that because music is all I’ve ever wanted to do.

You have so many memorable songs but which is your favourite song to play live? Your show was my first concert and it’s still the best one I’ve seen.

To be honest, it is always changing. I certainly love when the audience sings along with me on favorites like Have You Ever Seen the Rain, Cotton Fields and Proud Mary and I also enjoy performing some of the deep tracks.

How much did Pops Staples’ guitar playing influence your playing? Did you ever get a chance to meet him?

Hi Adam, Pops’ guitar playing was a big influence on me. He had mastered the art of playing “unstructured”, memorable musical phrases. Almost like conversation. I got to meet him in Mississippi in 1990 where they were naming a park in his honor. I think it’s actually called Pop Staples Park in Drew, Mississippi.

I really enjoyed your interview on Sirius radio recently. The tone of the your guitar playing is so amazing and distinctive. One example that always comes to mind is the solo to “Lookin’ Out My Back Door”. What kind of guitar were you playing for that recording?

That guitar was my black 68′ Les Paul custom. Love that guitar. Still have it 🙂

What inspired the two melencoly songs “It’s Just a Thought” and “Hideaway” from the Pendulum album?

Hi! The band was in trouble, it seemed like no matter what I did I couldn’t help it or save it. I thought we had achieved our dream and yet everyone was angry at me. Kind of like rain falling on an otherwise perfect day. To express those feelings I wrote Have You Ever Seen the Rain and Hideaway. “It’s Just a Thought” was less specifically about the band, more about my general mood during that time.

What is your favorite sandwich?

When I’m hungry, the one in front of me!

I was lucky enough to see you play the Gentlemen of the Road tour in St Augustine, FL a couple years back. I have to say, seeing you play with Mumford and Sons was one of the coolest things I have witnessed at a concert. How did you like playing with the headliners and are you glad you made the last minute appearance?

I was lucky enough to see you play the Gentlemen of the Road tour in St Augustine, FL a couple years back. I have to say, seeing you play with Mumford and Sons was one of the coolest things I have witnessed at a concert. How did you like playing with the headliners and are you glad you made the last minute appearance?

Did you name your first guitar? If so what did you name it?

Hi! I changed the name of one of my early Rickenbacker guitars to “ACME”. I had done some modifications like putting in a Les Paul hum-bucking pickup and a Bigsby vibrato. ACME of course came from Bugs Bunny and friends.

I’ve long enjoyed your work, and I want to thank you for all the wonderful things you’ve created in your life. My personal favorite is Lookin’ Out My Backdoor. How’d you come to write it, and what other similar songs do you enjoy? A second question, do you like metal? Because you should look into european power metal. I think you’d like Falconer (especially the Mindtraveller and Black Moon Rising albums).

Hi, I wanted to write a kid’s song for my son Josh who was three years old at the time. There was a book I loved when I was a child called, “And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street” (A Dr. Seuss book). This story filled me with wonderment and I wanted to write a song that felt the same way. And yes I do like metal! I’ll be sure to check out that band you mentioned.

Can you describe your songwriting process? What inspires you to write a song?

It’s different almost every time. One thing that seems to be constant is having a guitar in my hands and coming up with a guitar riff. There are at least two very different ingredients in a good song. If you happen to come up with a good melody, you’re on your way. But you still need to have great lyrics to go along with that melody. I still use my song title book from 1967 for inspiration, Proud Mary was the very first title in that book. I get the most inspired when my feelings and emotions come into play. For instance, how I felt about the Vietnam War or how I feel about my family.

Aside from playing music, what do you like to do for fun?

Aside from playing music, I love being with with my family. Simple things like a romantic escape with my wife Julie. Having my kids with me on tour we get to do fun things like visiting the Del Vecchio Showroom in Sao Paolo, Brazil or taking my daughter Kelsy to the American Girl Doll store and driving her to her track meets (she loves to run). Of course I have taken all of them fishing. I get the most joy in life from being with my family.

What’s your music inspiration? Who do you listen to when you’re alone? Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Any music that sounds good to me is an inspiration. When I’m alone I listen to lots of shred guitar, heavy metal stuff. Truth time: I have to reveal that I sing and whistle “Jingle Bells” everywhere I go, every day of the year. That is a happy song!

What made flannel your “go to” choice of fabric and style?

I love flannel and I love plaid. It’s a personal preference but I really never knew any other way.

Like me, I know you are a big Rick Nelson fan and have covered his songs. Have you ever thought about covering “Glory Train”? I think you could really tear that one up, and I would love to hear it!

Hi there, I am a huge fan of Rick Nelson and his music. His style influenced me greatly. Some songs that I’ve considered covering are “Stood Up”, “It’s Late”, “You Tear Me Up” and “Believe What You Say” most from his album “Ricky Sings Again” I believe. That record had an incredible sound. I gotta go listen “Glory Train” not sure I remember that one.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Blue moon ice cream from Bonnie Doon in Indiana.

What did you think of this AMA Highlight?

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