One of the most infamous and tragic copyright struggles in the history of the music industry has finally been resolved as John Fogerty has gained the publishing rights to his Creedence Clearwater Revival songs, purchasing a majority stake in the catalog from Concord.
“As of this January, I own my own songs again. This is something I thought would never be a possibility,” Fogerty said in a statement. “After 50 years, I am finally reunited with my songs. I also have a say in where and how my songs are used. Up until this year, that is something I have never been able to do. I am looking forward to touring and celebrating this year! I want thank Concord for helping to make all of this happen. And, I am excited for new ideas and a renewed interest in my music … like a revival.”
Fogerty is behind the revered CCR catalog as the sole songwriter on most of the band’s biggest songs including “Proud Mary,” “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Down on the Corner,” and “Fortunate Son.” Concord and Fogerty didn’t disclose the financial details of the sale. Fogerty didn’t purchase 100 percent ownership in the publishing rights, but now holds the majority stake in the works.
Fogerty’s move to buy his songs goes against the current trend of artists selling their catalogs for major paydays; it’s an understandable decision, however, given that he’s fought unsuccessfully for decades to win the rights for the songs he wrote. Saul Zaentz, the owner of CCR’s label Fantasy Records, owned both the master recordings and the publishing rights to the Fogerty-written tracks for decades, with Fogerty leaving Fantasy and Zaentz in 1974. It was a bitter separation, with Zaentz (who died in 2014) and Fogerty perpetually fighting over business matters. By the 1980s, Fantasy went as far as to sue Fogerty for plagiarism, alleging that Fogerty copied his own CCR song “Run Through the Jungle” on his solo track “The Old Man Down the Road.” Fogerty won that suit.
“I’m the dad [of these songs]. I created them,” Fogerty told Billboard, which first reported the news of the deal. “They never should have been taken away in the first place. And that hijacking left such a massive hole in me. The happiest way to look at it is, yeah, it isn’t everything. It’s not a 100 percent win for me, but it’s sure better than it was. I’m really kind of still in shock.”
Fogerty would re-sign with Fantasy three decades later after Concord bought the label, but he still didn’t have the rights to his music. As Billboard reported, Fogerty’s latest effort to get his rights back started a year and a half ago. Knowing that U.S. copyright law states that the U.S. publishing rights would start reverting back to Fogerty in the next several years, Fogerty’s wife and manager Julie Fogerty figured they would go to Concord with an offer to buy the global rights instead. While the law would allow Fogerty to regain publishing rights in the U.S., it wouldn’t apply to any other country, but taking the catalog’s most lucrative market could provide some leverage for a deal.
Concord declined at first, according to Billboard, so Fogerty partnered with Irving Azoff, who helped get the deal over the finish line. “John Fogerty is one of music’s greatest treasures. Now, finally, after decades of suffering, I’m thrilled to see John regain ownership of his music,” Azoff said in a statement. “And kudos to Concord for understanding that doing the right thing for artists is great for their business as well.”
As Julie Fogerty said of the acquisition: “I was always hoping for a miracle that John would own his songs, and I’m so blissful knowing that this has finally come true for him.”
With the deal closed, Fogerty said he plans on releasing new music this year. There’s definitely more to come,” Fogerty said in his statement following the sale. “I happen to like the songs a lot.”