Rock legend John Fogerty capped his keynote Q&A at the Billboard Touring Conference on Thursday, with a surprise for the executives on hand: Pristine renditions of “Proud Mary” and “Have You Ever Seen The Rain,” two of the singer-songwriter’s most enduring compositions.
Fogerty’s impromptu set in the ballroom at SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills followed a 45-minute conversation with Billboard‘s Ray Waddell, during which the rock great dissected his long career, admitting that early on he was “scared to death of being a one-hit-wonder.”
“After a while I started worrying about what was gonna happen after “Susie Q,” Fogerty said of the 1968 cover hit. “It was a novelty and I knew it. I started to get busy staying up late and writing songs. I started strumming on the Rickenbacker and ‘Proud Mary’ came out.”
Now 71, Fogerty said he diligently practices his guitar playing, “because Brad Paisley is still better than me.”
Of the long-ago disagreements with his Creedence Clearwater Revival bandmates and their complex record label battles, he said he wasn’t quite sure he was completely at peace with it all, but he was proud of the band’s work.
“If we had only stopped squabbling with ourselves and concentrated on the record company, we might have been a little happier. But what’s retained is the art itself. I’m amazed how many places that music has gone,” he said of hits such as “Born On the Bayou,” “Green River,” “Up Around the Bend,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Fortunate Son,” and others.
Waddell asked the star what makes a great live performer (“you should be having fun”) and whether artists should engage in social commentary.
“If not you, then who?” said Fogerty.
The two-day conference, now in its 13th year, focuses on every aspect of the $20 billion-per-year global touring business. Previous keynote Q&A’s have included conversations with Roger Waters, Gene Simmons and Chris Cornell.
“We love presenting artists who have a perspective on the live experience and the role of music in our culture,” Waddell said. “John Fogerty is one of the greatest live performers of our time and here he is in a hotel ballroom and he just picks up a guitar and mesmerizes everybody, playing two of the most beloved songs in rock n’ roll. It was a great treat.”