John Fogerty might not be a fan of war, but he has big love for warriors. The driving force behind the timeless music of Creedence Clearwater Revival served in the Army Reserves during the Vietnam War and has long been a champion for veterans, most recently on the title song of Brad Paisley’s “Love and War” album.
The recently released song, on which Fogerty trades vocals and guitar leads with the country superstar, calls for respect and decent treatment of veterans, and that’s something Fogerty truly believes in, according to his son, Shane Fogerty, who plays guitar in his father’s band.
“He has a lot of respect for the men and women who dedicate their lives to that,” Shane said in a phone interview last weekend from Los Angeles. “When they’re not treated like heroes or even a normal human being, that’s when he and other people take notice and start to do something.”
That the Grammy-winning Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is performing at the 10th and most likely final Freedom Fest on Saturday has a lot to do with that support for people who serve their nation in the military. At 72, John Fogerty is not all about playing in a traveling band like he was in his Creedence days and is more selective about touring. Between now and mid-September, the Fogertys only have four concerts scheduled, and one of those is Freedom Fest, which in addition to offering great music also features tributes to the troops.
Shane Fogerty, 25, and his 24-year-old brother, Tyler, were romping around the house when their father was at home putting together his Grammy-winning solo album, “Blue Moon Swamp,” which was released in 1997, 12 years after another standout Fogerty album, “Centerfield.” Between those two albums, John Fogerty became determined to become a wizard on the six-string, to become as well-respected for his guitar-playing as he had been for his songwriting and singing with Creedence.
By the time “Blue Moon Swamp” came out, he had earned that respect, but he never let up on trying to improve his playing. If he wasn’t doing something else, he had a guitar in his hands. When he was on the road, Shane noted, he’d always have two guitars with him on which to practice, and he’d even bring a metal folding chair on which he liked to sit while working on his guitar playing.
“He was on another level. He was obsessed,” said Shane, who admitted he does not have that work ethic — performance videos show he can still shred, though.
During a spring European tour this year, John Fogerty dropped a bomb on his family. The last week they were in Europe, Shane said, his father told them he realized that he had reached his guitar god goal and didn’t have to practice all the time.
“He confessed he realized he’s where he wants to be. He’s satisfied where he’s at now,” Shane said. “We were shocked.”
While his father is a self-taught guitar player, Shane knows the theory and technical ins-and-outs of guitar playing and music in general, thanks to his studies at the University of Southern California. He and Tyler have had a band together since 2007, first playing classic rock (Creedence songs included) in a band called Steamtrain Mary and now playing a kind of neo-psychedelic rock in a band called Hearty Har.
The brothers have put together a studio in their family’s sprawling Thousand Oaks home — they call it Radio Astro— that is full of the kind of vintage analog recording equipment you’d find in a 1960s and ’70s studio. “It’s all about the gear,” Shane said.
It’s the kind of gear their father would have worked on to record his Creedence hits. Shane was especially excited about the recent acquisition of an old plate reverb unit they bought from a recording studio in Chicago that was closing its doors.
Shane and Tyler first took the stage with their father in 2011, and Shane has been playing in his father’s band full-time since he graduated from college in 2014. Both brothers play guitar and sing in Hearty Har, which is gearing up to release some new music this summer. “We’ve got a bunch of music ready to be out there,” Shane said.
They also are getting ready to start work with their father later this year on a new John Fogerty album. He hasn’t put out a new album of original music since the Grammy-nominated “Revival,” which came out 10 years ago. They had planned to work on a new album at the beginning of this year, but John had major surgery on his back and needed some recuperation time.
The new album will be recorded in the other studio in the Fogerty home, Lost Canyon Studio, which Shane called the “legit” studio as opposed to the “kids studio,” and Shane is looking forward to getting the chance to make new music with his father and brother.
“We’re going to kind of push him to be a little more experimental and not so traditional,” Shane said. “It’s going to be a battle, but it’s going to be fun.”
In September, October and January, the Fogertys will be playing a series of shows at The Wynn in Las Vegas. “We tell everybody we know to come see this,” Shane said. “It’s got all the bells and whistles like a Vegas show, but it’s a rock show.”
Thanks to an obsession with staying fit that nearly rivaled his guitar playing work ethic, John Fogerty is in great shape and shows no signs of letting up. Shane said his father will keep performing “until somebody tells him ‘no,’ until he can’t physically get up and do it. That’s when he’ll stop.”