(Canada’s John Fogerty and CCR impersonation show, Creedence Clearwater Survival, perform during their Out of The Fog tour stop at The Chrysler Theatre in Windsor, Ontario, on Saturday, October 27, 2018. Photo above by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.)
It is not unusual for rock and roll bands to assume alter egos. Willy and the Poor Boys was an invention of John Fogerty, famed front man of Creedence Clearwater Revival. Saturday night, at downtown Windsor’s Chrysler Theatre, in the St. Clair Centre for the Performing Arts, both Willy and John arrived to play rock and roll through the impersonation skills of John Forgery’s Creedence Clearwater Survival in what was dubbed the Ultimate John Fogerty/CCR Experience, presented by Sunnyside Productions.
Make no mistake, Forgery is an almost exact mirror copy of Fogerty. No doubt he could probably easily pass for the Fortunate Son at border crossings. The impersonator seemed to rarely miss a beat – although he did admit to sometimes making a mistake or two – as he took on the persona of a beloved rock and roll hero and nailed it.
It all started with the stage filling with fog, a clue as to why the night’s entertainment was called, “Out of the Fog.” While his three bandmates started to play, Forgery, barely visible, ran on stage and proved there was nothing hazy about his calibrated two hour version of being Fogerty. He would often reminisce about the days of his life – rather Fogerty’s – sometimes his edifications were downright revealing.
Fogerty, it turns out, was not born in any bayou swamp, but rather near Berkeley California. He started his first band when rock was young and he was 12. The year was 1957. As Forgery tells it, it would be decades before he even visited bayou country, 1985 to be exact.
Along the way there were many stops but the one Forgery spent the most time on was CCR’s early morning slot at Woodstock, the famous 1969 music festival in an upstate New York farmer’s field. After arriving in an outdated military helicopter, the band found themselves facing a very subdued audience. It was 3am and most were sleeping. Undaunted, they launched into Susie Q, their first big hit and the only one not written by Fogerty. Despite hardly anyone listening that morning, the song climbed the charts and bayou rock was born. In fact that year the band released its second album aptly titled Bayou Country.
And while Susie Q was the only non-Fogerty written song, the band did play others, including Gene Pitney’s Hello Mary Lou, part of its 1972 Mardi Gras album. That song was also a Ricky Nelson hit and brought the teen idol to Fogerty’s door in 1979 with an offer to have the rocker produce the next Nelson album. Being a songwriter first, Forgery says, the offer was declined. “What did I know about producing,” he explained.
True to form, throughout the concert Forgery alternated between a Rickenbacker – like the one Fogerty played at Woodstock – and the legendary rock star’s favourite Gibson Les Pauls, including the prized Black Beauty. CCS’s rhythm guitarist Tom Foolery and bassist Cam Barber, who Forgery noted, “is engaged ladies,” stuck with Fender electrics. The band’s fourth member was drummer Cliff Douglas.
As testament to the quality of the reproduced music, there was dancing in the aisles, along with a lot of hand clapping and knees tapping to the well-known beat. All in all, Forgery put on a show with no flaws covering CCR and Fogerty’s solo career. The highlight of the latter was his famed “Centrefield.” A rather appropriate World Series baseball song. As Forgery played the boys of summer from LA and Boston were playing as well. Although it is doubtful either the Dodgers or Red Socks could execute such fine compositions as Green River, Born on the Bayou, Proud Mary, Bad Moon Rising, Fortunate Son and Old Man Down The Road.
About the only thing missing from the concert was any mention of the acrimony between Fogerty and his band mates. Something that was legendary and led to the band’s breakup. Although Forgery did offer a few good natured put-downs of his Poor Boy Tom Foolery who, in his own defence, was sporting a brand new checkered shirt. While Forgery claimed it was his, Foolery claimed he’d only bought it that day in Windsor at a French store: Value Vill – lage. (Pronounced like Target is pronounced as Tar Jay.)
For more information about the band and upcoming shows visit: https://creedenceclearwatersurvival.ca
For more information and upcoming shows at Windsor’s Chrysler Theatre visit: http://www.chryslertheatre.com
Article and photos by Robert Tuomi
For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.