John Fogerty has finally gained worldwide control of his Creedence Clearwater Revival publishing rights, putting to bed one of the longest, nastiest battles in music industry history.
Fogerty’s legal woes began nearly 60 years ago when CCR signed to Fantasy Records, which film producer and record company executive Saul Zaentz bought in 1967. Fogerty came to see the terms of the deal as unfair and tried for years to extricate himself from Fantasy Records.
To get out of the deal, Fogerty relinquished his royalties to Zaentz in 1980 and did not see a payment from them for decades. Zaentz famously sued the rocker for self-plagiarism, claiming Fogerty’s 1985 solo hit “The Old Man Down the Road” ripped off CCR’s “Run Through the Jungle.” (Fogerty won the case.)
Now, the embattled CCR leader can finally enjoy a bit of peace and satisfaction. Fogerty recently bought a majority interest in the global publishing rights to his CCR catalog from Concord for an undisclosed sum, Billboard reported. Concord bought Fantasy Records back in 2004 and quickly reinstated and increased Fogerty’s royalties. The company still owns CCR’s master recordings and will continue to pay out Fogerty’s share of the publishing.
“In the back of my mind, I wanted to own my songs – my children, you might say,” Fogerty told UCR in 2021. “I’m talking about owning the songs themselves, the publishing, but I realized that I had been lied to by Saul and I wasn’t going to get to own them. He wasn’t going to allow me to own them.”
The rocker confessed he never thought he’d see the day he gained control of his publishing. “The happiest way to look at it is, yeah, it isn’t everything,” he said Billboard. “It’s not a 100% win for me, but it’s sure better than it was. I’m really kind of still in shock. I haven’t allowed my brain to really, actually, start feeling it yet.”
Fogerty’s latest crusade to obtain his publishing rights began when he and his wife and manager, Julie Fogerty, realized that the rights to his songs would start reverting to him in a few years, per US copyright law. Rather than wait those last few years, Julie suggested to Concord that her husband buy the songs back from them. The company initially declined, but after looping in music industry mogul and Fogerty’s former manager Irving Azoff, both parties struck a deal.
Finally, Fogerty has accomplished what he never could with the late Zaentz. For much of the ’80s, Fogerty refused to play his CCR songs live because he couldn’t stomach the idea of Zaentz profiting off his performances. He now tours with his two sons and told Billboard“Playing is more joyful now than at any time in my life.”
The rocker’s victory comes at a time when many of his peers are doing the exact opposite and selling their catalogs for massive, nine-figure paydays. Bruce Springsteen sold his masters and publishing catalog for a reported $500 million in late 2021, the same year that Sony Music acquired the rights to Bob Dylan’s master recordings in a deal estimated to be worth $200 or more.
Fogerty, now 77, added that he would love to eventually own the CCR masters, but he’s “not actively sitting around worrying about that.” The fact that I didn’t own my own songs was much more bothersome to me because of the treatment that I received.”
Rockers Who Have Sold Their Publishing Rights
As song placement has become commonplace and sales have decreased due to streaming, many classic rockers have offloaded their publishing rights.