In one of the longest and worst legal battles in music business history, John Fogerty has gained worldwide control of the publishing rights to his Creedence Clearwater Revival songs, more than 50 years after the songs were first released.
Fogerty has acquired a majority interest in the worldwide publishing rights to his catalog of songs with the group, including “Proud Mary,” “Fortunate Son,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Up Around the Bend,” “Have You Ever Seen the Rain? “And others from Concorde for an undisclosed amount, a company representative confirmed to Variety; the news was first reported by Billboard.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s dispute was not with Concord, which acquired the rights to the catalog in 2004, but with music and film mogul Saul Giantz, who signed Fogerty, now 77, and Creedence to his Fantasy Records in the mid-1960s. . Under a strict contract that he aggressively and litigiously defended for decades. A bitter legal battle between Fogerty and Zaentz played out in the courts and in the press, and even over Fogerty’s 1985 song and music video, “Vanz Kant Danz” (which surprisingly led to a $144 million, ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit from Zaentz, who claimed the song was Fogerty’s own hit. “Run Through the Jungle”) copied.
It consumed decades of the artist’s life and sidelined his music career for many years, although after its acquisition, Concord quickly improved the terms of the contract. The company relinquished artist royalties to the Giants in 1980 to get out of his fantasy contract, which he had signed as a teenager, and, unwisely, reunited with the Giants in 1970 while acting only as the group’s singer, not songwriter. and lead guitarist but its manager. Giantz went on to a successful career as a film producer largely funded by his Creedence Love, winning Oscars for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Amadeus” and “The English Patient.” Fogerty tried to acquire his publication from Zaentz in 1989 and the two agreed on a number, but at the last minute, Fogerty said Zaentz doubled the price and the deal fell through. Zaentz died in 2014.
Creedence’s late-’60s/early ’70s heyday was huge – they sold more records than the Beatles in 1969 – but strangely brief: they had an incredible seven Top 5 singles and five Top 10 albums (including two No. 1) in just two years, but then faded just as quickly as the group split in 1972.
Concord already holds the CCR master recordings in its catalog and will continue to handle Fogerty’s share of the publishing catalog for an unspecified limited period. (Fogherty owns the publishing and master recording rights to his single material.)
“The happiest way to look at it is, yeah, it’s not everything,” Fogerty said. “It’s not a 100% win for me, but it sure is better than it was. I’m still kind of shocked really. I haven’t let my brain really feel it, yet.”
Although some publication rights would have reverted to Fogerty within a few years — under the 56-year rule of US copyright law — Fogerty and his wife/manager Julie decided to acquire as many rights as possible. They brought in supermanager Irving Azoff, who had managed Fogerty nearly 20 years earlier, to help with the deal.
Julie Fogarty said Azoff called Scott Pasucci, head of Concorde, and said, “’Scott, you’ve made so much money at Fogerty. Do you want to be known as Saul Giantz in the music business? [legendary Warner Bros. Records head] Mo Austin?’ And I think he heard it.”
Concord recently released what is likely the last major work from the Creedence vault, a live recording of the band’s legendary 1970 concert at London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall, accompanied by a documentary film narrated by actor Jeff Bridges, who of course played the Creedence-obsessed. The character “Dude” in the Coen brothers’ 1998 film “The Big Lebowski”. That film is an example of the lasting legacy of Creedence’s music, which Fogarty plans to expand.
“I’m ready to feel really good about music,” he said.