Video: Creedence Clearwater Revival “Bootleg”

Photo credit: Malcolm Barker

In what might be the first ever Alt-Country / Americana music video, here is Creedence Clearwater Revival at the height of their success in early ’69, as they roll through this very danceable number from their hit album Bayou Country’ (Jan. ’69).  On the heels of their first big hit, the Billboard No. 2 single ‘Proud Mary’, (backed with ‘Born on the Bayou’), they showcase their new confidence as musicians with a reinvention of American southern roots music.  We might actually be fooled into believing this band is from Mississippi during this good-time video, and who doesn’t like a hipster dance party with cute girls on a real riverboat? More on that in a minute. After a quick rave-up, with that great two-chord groove, enters lead vocalist, lead guitarist, and songwriter – John Fogerty – and he plays it cool, as the rural country bluesman. Fogerty is equal parts Huck Finn, Scotty Moore, and Hank Williams with his flannel plaid shirt, cowboy vest, boots, and shaggy hair. Doug Clifford, the drummer, in his country western sawtooth shirt, long hair and beard, continues the Americana theme.  Uncle Tupelo would later copy the style. The clean-shaven Tom Fogerty, the other brother, emerges with his hypnotic rhythm guitar.  A very noticeable Rickenbacker ‘Fireglo’ guitar, which certainly shows a timely Beatles influence.

There is nothing truly remarkable here as far as production or cinematic effect. The significance with ‘Bootleg’ is indeed these musicians, the myth created here, and witnessing a re-birth of the uniquely American roots music they push forward against the tide of hippie psychedelia and protest songs. Creedence takes a cue from Bo Diddley and the Memphis sound with an amazingly simple, yet infectious groove.  This is not overly complicated music.  It’s feel over technique.  And, in truth, Creedence is not from the South. The band is from the working-class East Bay suburbs of the San Francisco Bay area in northern California.  And this video was, in actuality, a filmed promo on a harbour cruise, down in the Port of Los Angeles, and not on a river at all. No, John Fogerty is not the real deal – but he knows a thing or two about southern music, the myth of Americana and show business too!  Just watch this video, pick up a copy of the album, and you’ll understand.

About Mike Robbie 8 Articles
From California, with UK family roots. An aspiring songwriter, and part-time musician, who also enjoys freelance writing and spends far too much time in hotels. A member of the Americana Music Association (USA) as well as Nashville Songwriters Association. Currently enjoying the latest releases by Son Volt/Jay Farrar and Jack Broadbent ...
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I don’t know, I’d say he is the real deal, even if he isn’t a Southerner.

Mike Robby

Hi Dan,
Thanks for reading the piece. No doubt about Fogerty’s talent. I know Creedence loved and respected real deal-ers like Booker T and the MG’s, Tony Joe White and Wilbert Harrison. They were students of the greats, like we all are. Ok, now I must cue up some Allman Brothers and compare!