The first album I ever purchased was Cosmo’s Factory from Creedence Clearwater Revival. It was one of those planned things you do as a kid with an allowance, and I had been saving mine for weeks. The record was scheduled for a July, 1970 release, but wasn’t yet available in Canada.
My family was heading to Newport, Oregon for a vacation that summer and it would be the first time I crossed the border and entered the U.S.A. I wasn’t thinking about the trip as much as I was thinking about the album. I couldn’t wait to get there because I had one purpose in mind and that was to buy the record. It didn’t take me long after arriving to find the store that carried it and when I held it in my hands I recall staring at it in disbelief. I also recall the sticker price in the top right corner: 3 dollars and 37 cents.
I never planned to write a story about Cosmo’s Factory, nor did I ever expect to see John Fogerty in concert. The band broke up in the 70s and Fogerty’s own career ended up in a long legal battle with his record company. When I learned he was back performing and planning a cross-Canada tour this year I knew I would find a way to be there. We managed to get tickets for the Regina, Saskatchewan show. I was in Section 121, Row 7, Seat 15. I won’t claim they were the best seats in the house, but none of that mattered because standing on the stage was an artist whom I have followed and admired ever since my first record purchase. However, that’s only part of the story.
The chart success of Creedence Clearwater Revival is well known, and I wasn’t the only kid who purchased the record, but less known is the life John Fogerty lived after the band folded and the years he spent outside of the recording industry. Those things tend to become footnotes recorded in history books. As good as he was, and despite writing songs that sold millions of records, John Fogerty bears the distinction of being the only artist to be sued by his own record company for sounding like himself. After he lost the rights to his own music, he actually stopped playing it live, because he refused to pay royalties to someone else for the right to play his own music. If you didn’t quite get that, read it again because it actually happened.
It has taken awhile, and in his own words, it has been a long road home, but John Fogerty is back and he’s never appeared and sounded better. In fact, on stage, he looks like a man who is enjoying himself, and after all he’s gone through, one thinks he is owed his due. The merchandise table isn’t cheap, but given that he is only beginning to get paid for his work, I think he’s entitled to a bit of a mark-up. In fact, if you have tickets to any of his final dates in Canada, you can pick up a vinyl copy of Cosmo’s Factory at the show. It’s a bit higher than what I paid for my first copy back in 1970. If you want the record it will now cost you 100 bucks, but hey, it comes with an autograph.