Fifty years later, Creedence’s John Fogerty regains song rights

After a half-a-century of legal wrangling, rocker John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival fame said Thursday that he owns a majority stake in his songs again.

The development turns the page on one of music history’s most bitter and infamous copyright struggles, which saw Fogerty — the sole songwrighter on hit songs including “Proud Mary,” “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” and “Bad Moon Rising” — battle to gain control of his work after what he dubbed a bad deal.

In the mid-1960s, entertainment mogul Saul Zaentz signed the now 77-year-old Fogerty and the rest of CCR to Fantasy Records.

The rights to the vault that also includes the anti-war anthem “Fortunate Son” for decades was the subject of merciless lawsuits, intense press attention and artistic hiatus on the part of Fogerty.

When CCR split in the early 1970s, Fogerty grew overwhelmingly exasperated with Fantasy, but couldn’t get out of his contract without forfeiting even more royalties to Zaentz.

Lawsuits that ensued included an eyebrow-raising tax-shelter case, and an even more bombastic plagiarism suit that Zaentz brought followed, with Fogerty going for long stretches without recording.

He even refused to sing Creedence songs for years.

Concord purchased Fantasy in 2004, and Fogerty resigned, but still didn’t own his publishing rights.

He recently went to them with an undisclosed offer, with the knowledge that copyright law mandates that the US publishing rights begin returning to Fogerty in the coming years.

Concord agreed: “As of this January, I own my own songs again. This is something I thought would never be a possibility,” the artist wrote on his website. “I am looking forward to touring and celebrating this year!

“And, I am excited for new ideas and a renewed interest in my music … like a revival.”

Concord maintains ownership of the CCR masters rights already in its possession, while its deal with Fogerty applies to the publishing rights available to songwriters. Fogerty retains all rights to his solo work.

The move goes against the current music sales trend that’s seen the world’s classic stars including Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Sting sell both publishing and masters rights for massive sums.

Calling Fogerty’s work “some of the greatest compositions of the 20th century,” Concord President Bob Valentine said in a statement that “given the unique set of circumstances around the history of John’s relationship with Fantasy, we were more than happy to oblige” an agreement.

Fogerty also said he’s working on new material: “There’s definitely more to come.”

“I happen to like the songs a lot.”

Agence France-Presse