John Fogerty’s work with Creedance Clearwater Revival is so ubiquitous it’s become a cliche. Type “Fortunate Son + Vietnam” into Twitter and enjoy a deluge of jokes about how often the song is used in movies about the ‘60s. Yet, despite how frequently his voice was heard in blockbusters, like Forrest Gump and Suicide Squad, and video games, Grand Theft Auto V and Battlefield Vietnam, Fogerty had very little say in his work. Even The Dude is told not to hold out much hope for his Creedance collection in The Big Lebowski. John Fogerty must’ve felt similarly. Thanks to a deal Fogerty signed in the mid-‘60s, Fogerty would spend the next five decades in legal battles with his old label to re-acquire the rights to his own music. Thankfully, all that’s about to change.
After half a century of fighting, John Fogerty announced today that he stands victorious on the field of litigious battle. Per Billboard, Fogerty bought a majority interest in the global publishing right to his work, purchasing the catalog from the Concord record label.
“As of this January, I own my own songs again,” Fogerty said in a statement. “This is something I thought would never be a possibility. After 50 years, I am finally reunited with my songs. I also have a say in where and how my songs are used. Up until this year, that is something I have never been able to do.”
Fogerty’s war began in 1968 when he signed with Saul Zaentz’s Fantasy Records. Creedance Clearwater Revival formerly began in 1967—though there were earlier incarnations, including the Blue Velvets and the Golliwogs. The band broke up in 1972, but between 1969 and 1970, CCR scored five albums in Billboard’s top 10 (spanning two decades!). Fogerty wrote most songs, but Zaentz owned the rights until Concord bought Fantasy in 2004. After that, the label began paying Fogerty royalties, but he continued to work toward total control of his catalog. Finally, Fogerty’s wife, Julie, took up the cause. Julie started to think larger and [told Concord], ‘John would like to buy his songs. He’d like to figure out a way’,” Fogerty told Billboard.
“John’s songs are some of the greatest compositions of the 20th century,” Concord President Bob Valentine said in a statement. “We’ve been honored to own and represent these works ever since we acquired Fantasy in 2004. Given the unique set of circumstances around the history of John’s relationship with Fantasy, we were more than happy to oblige John and Julie in working out an agreement for these songs to revert back to him early. And we’re profoundly grateful that John has agreed to partner with Concord for the remaining worldwide copyrights on the share of these songs that we will retain.”
Fogerty’s patience will likely pay off. His contemporaries, like Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, have begun selling off their copyrights for hundreds of millions. Though, one hopes Fogerty will hang on to his songs a little longer. They only took 50 years to reclaim.