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Creedence Clearwater Fans Flock from Europe to El Cerrito

If you happened to see a dozen Europeans wandering around El Cerrito and environs this past week taking photos, you were witness to a Creedence Clearwater Revival pilgrimage.

If anyone wonders whether El Cerrito's famous rock band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, continues to exert strong international appeal long after the group disbanded, Robert Aerts of Belgium has an answer.

He's one of a dozen devoted fans who traveled together from Europe and spent this past week in El Cerrito and environs searching out the houses, studios and other sites linked to the band.

The four-member band – John and Tom Fogerty along with Stu Cook and Doug Clifford – won renown with many recordings, including "Born on the Bayou," "Down on the Corner," "Proud Mary" and a number of others. Though they broke apart in less than four years (1968-72), their legacy does not appear to be soon forgotten.

Asked yesterday to name the highlights of their trip, Aerts said, "The highlights? There were lots of them!"

From one of the group's two rented vans, he pulled out a light fixture that he salvaged from the studio at Berkeley's Fantasy Records where the group recorded. The timing was lucky – the studio is scheduled to be dismantled next week, he said.

Another stroke of good fortune was hooking up with Jeff Fogerty, son of the late Tom Fogerty, said Petra Schaap, originally from Amsterdam and now living in Belgium. Jeff took them places they could never have found on their own, she said.

"It was a real treat – the personal touch," said Schaap, for whom the word fan may be too mild.

She said she's been to 145 John Fogerty concerts in the past 15 years. She got a shock at the 100th, she said. Fogerty stopped and pointed her out, telling the crowd that this was the 100th time she had seen him. Schaap recalled his words, quoting him as adding, "There's only one person who's seen me more than that, and that's myself."

Some places in El Cerrito weren't hard to find: the childhood home of John and Tom Fogerty, later Fogerty family homes, Portola Middle School, El Cerrito High. Portola was where the band began in 1959 as "The Blue Velvets" with John Fogerty on guitar, Cook on piano and Clifford on drums. Tom Fogerty joined later, and the group became the "Golliwogs" for a period before it found its fame as Creedence Clearwater Revival.

More difficult for the fans from Europe was finding some of the spots shown in photos on album and record covers. Where is or was the picnic table that John Fogerty sat on in the photo on the back of his solo album, Blue Ridge Rangers? The album's from 1973. The table could be long gone, but there's a sizable rock that hasn't moved.

Jeff Fogerty knew where it was, but it took an ardous hike around Lake Anza on trails that were narrow and through mud for the group to get there. John Fogerty and the photograher reached the spot more easily. "They got there by boat," said Jeff, who now lives in Brentwood. The boat too is shown in the photo.

And what about the tree shown in a famous promo shot of the four young musicians? Tilden? Indian Rock? They couldn't find it.

After their seven days in the Bay Area, the 12 Creedence fans – Aerts, Schaap, eight from Germany and one from Switzerland – head down to Hollywood and Los Angeles today, Friday, to see Creedence sites there before returning home, Aerts said.

The embedded YouTube video on this article shows some members of the group doing an impromptu performance of "Proud Mary" during their visit to El Cerrito High on Feb. 8.

Irene Rojas-Carroll February 10, 2012 at 02:43 PM
I'm a huge fan of Creedence Clearwater Revival and always tell people they're from El Cerrito!
Rob February 10, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Keep on jooglin.
Jen Komaromi February 10, 2012 at 05:50 PM
This is not new. We have had several 'tourists' stop by our cafe. They said that if Fogarty was from their hometown there would be a museum, plaques, etc. They thought it was a shame that EC doesn't do more! One note, the Fogarty kids went to El Cerrito Preschool Co-op, where the mother was actively involved and even wrote articles for Parents Magazine.
Teri Pangelina February 10, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Mighty Gauchos!
Irene Theodore Heinstein February 10, 2012 at 06:24 PM
I agree that the City of El Cerrito and ECHS should proudly promote their connection to Creedence Clearwater Revival, which continued to the next generation. John's son Josh was a member of the El Cerrito Youth Baseball Mustang League Reds in 1976 and 1977 seasons which won the League Championship. I know because my husband was Manager of the Reds.; Another member of the Reds in the 1976 and 1977 seasons was Karryl Smith, a groundbreaker in youth baseball and in later years along with Carla Green, a groundbreaker for women in rap, a duo known as Conscious Daughters. They were both graduates of ECHS in 1985 where Karryl excelled in sports. Sadly Karryl passed away in Dec 2011 due to complications of a blood clot. To learn more about Karryl, Carla and Conscious Daughters, follow this link. http://blogs.sfweekly.com/shookdown/2011/12/rip_rapper_special_one_of_oakl.php
Michele Cecil Winfrey February 10, 2012 at 09:46 PM
I graduated with Creedance in "63". I bought Tom Fogerty's piano from his ex-wife Jane about 35 years ago when she lived next door to me. It sits in my livingroom where I enjoy playing it.
Saul Zaentz February 11, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Don't understand the trip to El Cerrito HS. The one Fogerty attended was torn down, right? But I agree there should be a statue of CCR somewhere in town. One with Fogerty's back to Stu and Doug would capture it.
Charles Burress (Editor) February 11, 2012 at 05:04 AM
Right, the old high school was torn down. The new one opened in January 2009.
Michael O'Connor February 11, 2012 at 05:15 PM
The statue you propose would, of course, depict all thee surviving band members with their pockets turned out.
Mary E. Chafe-Powles February 13, 2012 at 02:46 AM
From what I have heard, Kensington might need to share in this as well. Some of the members lived in here. Perhaps a plaque or a commemorative comment could be placed on the sign that is on the Arlington in front of the gas station.
Peggy Sibert Mason February 14, 2012 at 12:03 AM
John also went to Harding Grammar School in El Cerrito - I think I have his picture about the 2nd grade. When we were in junior high, I have a picture of me with Tommy Fogerty in front of my house. Peggy Sibert Mason, Boise, Idaho
Mark Perigan February 14, 2012 at 05:43 AM
A funny story I heard 25 years ago. The Boy's were practicing in The Fogerty house garage. Early high school days. Just shaping things up musically you might say. Anyway, it happened that Ma Fogarty was hosting the bridge club and they were all having a grand time. That is until The Boys turned up the volume, way up ... Ma Fogerty came tearing out of the house, 'maddern a wet hen' she was. Made em stop and put them on a 2 week restriction from using the garage. If she only knew...
Bruce David Brooks February 14, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Bruce David Brooks I was involved with planning one of the dances at ECHS. Don't remember what it was. However I do remember we hired a group of high school friends to play at the dance. They charged us the fee of $25.00. They were called the Blue Velvets at the time.
TOM BUELL February 14, 2012 at 09:10 PM
In the PE class ,we picked our teams, John was one of the last picked . I would pick JOHN and put him in center field , hopeing that right & left fielders could cover him . Nope , the ball would be hit straight to JOHN and get away from him .Probably thinking about his music ! THANKS JOHN !! --- TOM BUELL
Charles Burress (Editor) February 14, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Hi Peggy, if you can send us a copy of the photos (charles@patch.com), we'll see if we can publish them. I'm sure they'd be of interest to quite a few readers.
Robert Aerts February 15, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Hi Irene, would you please get in touch with me ? Maybe we could trade some stuff and/or information ? Robert ; one of the 12 pelgrims :-)
Robert Aerts February 15, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Hi Jen, with all your respect, we were not just tourists. We made this trip only to see the CCR related things, we went to Putah Creek, to Lodi, to Albany, Kensington, Berkeley and El Cerrito only to see the places where these guys grew up when they were young! And we loved it (PS : CCR or John Fogerty never were in Lodi, but we went there because of the songtitle only, aren't we just crazy :-)
Robert Aerts February 15, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Hi Michele, I'm one of the 12 pelgrims, would you care to send me a picture of that piano ? Also, I thought Tom's ex-wife was called "Gail", but I might be wrong. Robert , creedence(at)scarlet(dot)be
Robert Aerts February 15, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Hi Peggy, I'm one of the 12 pelgrims, would you care to share these pictures with me ? Many thanks in advance, Robert ; creedence(at)scarlet(dot)be
Robert Aerts February 15, 2012 at 07:34 PM
If anyone has anything rare about the early period when they CCR was called the Blue Velvets or the Golliwogs I would certainly like to hear from them. Might be posters, magazine articles, old records, pictures or whatever. I'm a huge fan and collector. Many thanks in advance, Robert (Belgium) = creedence(at)scarlet(dot)be
Ken Bottini February 17, 2012 at 04:49 AM
Gail would be the correct name. I know Gail. I also remember Tom from the mid 60's. Lots of memories pop up when I hear CCR.
Bernie Gorczynski February 18, 2012 at 04:05 AM
I went to St. Jerome's school in EC & was very good friends with Dan & Bob Fogerty. We used to play lots of baseball in the summer and John would often join in. A single Mom raising 5 boys. It was never dull at the Fogerty house. It was on Ramona or Pomona. Does anyone have the address? I still have a copy of HAVE YOU EVER BEEN LONELY/BONITA, one of the Blue Velvets first recordings. It features Tom Fogerty singing & John autographed the matting I have it mounted to. Not for sale. Bernie G
Robert Aerts February 18, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Hi Bernie, thanks for that information, the house is on Pomona, we visited it. If you have any stuff that you want to get rid off, please get in contact with me. Robert
Dorothy Coakley February 19, 2012 at 07:22 AM
A fellow who lives kitty-corner to the Fogerty's early piano teacher on Albemarle(She was named Grace Somebody-Or-Other) bought her piano, an upright, and still has it in his house. (At least that's what he told me several years ago.) I took lessons briefly from the smae piano teacher, but my mother transferred me to one in Albany. My sisters, however, continued with her. Danged...mebbe I coulda joined the group had I continued studying with Grace..hooohawww!
Stu Helfer July 16, 2012 at 05:00 AM
I believe that it was on RAmona, just south of Fairmount. About 2 or 3 houses in. Just down the street from Fat Apples
Sharon Rauch February 21, 2013 at 07:23 PM
Speaking of St. Jerome's, there is a reunion for all classes the evening of April 27th. What a great way to see old classmates. How can we get the Fogerty's there?

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