John Fogerty, who led led Creedence Clearwater Revival to astounding success in the late 1960s and early 1970s, plays a show at the Orpheum Theater in Boston on Sunday. Before CCR, Fogerty was the driving force behind the Blue Ridge Rangers.
John Fogerty is a happy dude, as he kept telling a recent conference call of music journalists.
Part of the reason is the revisiting of his Blue Ridge Rangers, and the new album (“The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again”) featuring Fogerty and a few exceptional guests singing classic roots and roadhouse rock, and part of it is simply his career revival. But most of it traces to the sense of peace and satisfaction he derives from his wife, Julie, whom he met in Indianapolis in 1986, and married in 1991. They now have four children.
Fogerty and his band perform at the Orpheum Theatre in Boston on Sunday night, the final date on his fall tour.
In the original Blue Ridge Rangers album from 1973, Fogerty basically played all the instruments himself. The new version offers a full band of crack musicians, along with stellar duets, such as his turn with Bruce Springsteen on the Everly Brothers chestnut “When Will I Be Loved?”
“The Blue Ridge Rangers was a project that has never been far from my mind, over all of the intervening 37 years,” said Fogerty with a laugh. “I always felt that it would be nice to do that again. I had even made a short list of songs.
“I told myself if I ever do it again, I’m going to get real guys,” Fogerty said. “On the first record, every instrument played was really me. I just felt that the music would be better if we got people to play with me this time.”
Fogerty led Creedence Clearwater Revival to astounding success in the late 1960s and early 1970s, only to see the group implode within three years. Tangled in royalty disputes with his former record company and former bandmates, he even stepped away from his own successful solo career in the mid-’80s. It is only in the past decade or so that he’s begun performing CCR hits again, and found his creative songwriting prowess undiminished.
Fogerty said he was amazed fans still fondly remember the first Blue Ridge Rangers album.
“I often remembered that one in two ways,” he said. “First, I didn’t think anybody noticed it, and second, I didn’t think it was very good. When a lot of people would mention they liked it, I began to realize the problem was that I was not too happy back then. The difference now is that I’m just loving life. Since I met my wife, life has really been very good to me. My music reflects that. I think on this new one, there is a kind of joy throughout the album.”
Fogerty’s fresh mind set also includes looking back with new eyes at the fractured relationship with his late brother, Tom, the rhythm guitarist in CCR. Siding with his bandmates and the record company against John created a huge rift, and Tom and his brother were estranged when Tom died in 1990.
“I’m especially conscious of how bad things got, so that when Tom passed away in 1990 we were still at odds,” Fogerty said. “At this point, I’ve totally forgiven him. Somebody’s got to make a start, and I feel like we’ve all kind of passed through that. If, on the other side, I run into him again, I will truly be glad to see him.”
Of course, the Don Henley/Timothy B. Schmit vocal help makes Rick Nelson’s ‘Garden Party” a real standout track, and any album with Buddy Miller in the band is a corker, but most of the attention goes to that superb harmonizing between Fogerty and Springsteen on the Everly Brothers’ cover tune.
“I truly love Bruce, ” Fogerty said. “He’s an American icon and a great artist, but more importantly, he’s a great guy – and my kind of guy. What you see is what you get. It is really fun to make music with Bruce, because it always gets lifted to some place you didn’t realize you could reach until it’s over. I certainly felt that way when we sang “Pretty Woman” together at Madison Square Garden. That is what gave me the idea for our harmony on ‘When Will I Be Loved?’”
Fogerty’s biggest kick this year was singing “Centerfield” on opening day at the new Yankee Stadium. Fogerty is a lifelong Yankees fan.
“As a boy, there were no West Coast teams,” Fogerty said. “Somehow I developed a connection with the Yankees. I can recall one of my favorite books as kid was ‘Lou Gehrig – Boy of the Sandlots.’ But I am a huge baseball fan, and a Yankees fan. I always thought centerfield at Yankee Stadium must be the center of the universe. I was very honored to be there – it was a great, fun day.”
Fogerty, 64, added he’s always tinkering with new songs, and a new Fogerty album should be along next year.
“Having a guitar in my hands triggers my creativity, I’ve found,” he said. “I play for three hours a day, every day we’re not on tour. I think the next album will have a real rock ’n’ roll vibe, and at the appropriate time – when I have enough songs – we’ll go in the studio and do an album.”
JOHN FOGERTY Sunday, 8 p.m., at the Orpheum Theatre, 1 Hamilton Place, Boston. Tickets are $32.50-$60. Box office is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Saturday. Call 617- 482-0106.
The Patriot Ledger