Behind the Band Name: Creedence Clearwater Revival

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Videos by American Songwriter

Creedence Clearwater Revival rarely sang about love. Instead, they asked “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?” and watched the bad moon a-risin’. The four-piece was consequently known for its lyrics about life in the United States—often in a nostalgic pang of swamp rock—with references to the unrest of the Vietnam War.

But you already knew that. You can hear these themes and inspirations in every inch of their discography. What is curious, though, is its band name: Creedence Clearwater Revival. Who is that? Or what is that? Let’s dive in.

How the name Creedence Clearwater Revival came to be.

Creedence Clearwater Revival was first named The Blue Velvets. The band—made up of brothers John and Tom Fogerty, Stu Cook, and Doug Clifford—had first started playing together in 1959 after John recruited his two school friends Cook and Clifford. And they went by The Blue Velvets, then The Golliwogs, and finally Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Their final band name, which was decided on in 1967, came from three different places or three separate sources, according to Uncut. “Creedence” was the name of one of Tom’s friends, assumed to be a man named Credence Newball. “Clearwater” came from watching a beer commercial, likely from an Olympia Beer advertising campaign. And finally, the most important of the three for the band, “Revival.” “Revival” was the moniker that declared a return to ’50s rock ‘n’ roll and a return to music after the tumultuous period of the Vietnam War.

So, at its core, the band name is made up of three different stories. One word means little without the other two.

Success as Creedence Clearwater Revival.

The band, as it is most famously known, was active from 1959 to 1972. Despite their fairly long career, and even longer when you consider the early band iterations, CCR saw its peak success in 1969 and 1970. It was during this time that the band released their second studio album, Bayou Country, which won widespread recognition for its tracks “Born on the Bayou” and “Proud Mary.”

Soon after, the band released fan favorites on their Green River and Pendulum albums. Given their popularity in the late ’60s and early ’70s, it became uncommon to not see a Creedence Clearwater Revival song topping the charts. The band had staked its claim on the hearts of rock fans, and they weren’t going anywhere. At least not from the charts.

Band breakup.

Creedence Clearwater Revival officially disbanded in 1972. John had slowly become dissatisfied with how the band was run. He would ultimately leave the band and thus mark the end of the band’s most successful era. In a 1997 interview, John revealed how his frustrations got the best of him when it came to keeping the band together.

“I was alone when I made that [CCR] music,” John said. “I was alone when I made the arrangements, I was alone when I added background vocals, guitars, and some other stuff. I was alone when I produced and mixed the albums. The other guys showed up only for rehearsals and the days we made the actual recordings. For me, Creedence was like sitting on a time bomb.

“And I was the one who had created all this. Despite that, I don’t think they understood what I was talking about. … They were obsessed with the idea of more control and more influence. So finally the bomb exploded and we never worked together again.”

Just goes to show that all good things must come to an end. Luckily for us, we can still listen to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s music from their heyday.

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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