Before there was Creedence Clearwater Revival, there was The Golliwogs.
The San Francisco Bay Area band formed in 1959 as an instrumental trio (John Fogerty, Doug Clifford and Stu Cook) by the name of The Blue Velvets. A year later, John’s older brother Tom joined, completing the line-up that would eventually keep on chooglin’ as Creedence Clearwater Revival. By 1964’s end, the quartet had signed with Fantasy Records and reinvented themselves as The Golliwogs, so named by Fantasy’s co-owner Max Weiss – who, legend has it, failed to consult them about the name change! The Golliwogs continued recording through 1967, when they made their final name change – to Creedence Clearwater Revival. On September 29, Craft Recordings will issue the first standalone compilation of Golliwogs music since 1975. Fight Fire: The Complete Recordings 1964-1967 brings together all 23 tracks by The Golliwogs on one single CD.
Since the break-up of Creedence in 1972, relations between the group members have veered from acrimonious to downright hostile, but Fight Fire traces the development of young, hungry musicians working together in what sounds like perfect harmony. The 23 tracks on the compilation have all been previously collected as part of the 2001 Creedence Clearwater Revival box set, reissued by Fantasy in 2013 in streamlined packaging. That box premiered nine tracks by the pre-CCR band, with most appearing on its first CD but a couple showing up on the second, as a result of two Golliwogs songs (“Call It Pretending” and “Porterville”) having been released under CCR’s name. This set eschews a chronological approach, but brings all of the recordings together on one CD. The box set also preceded the Golliwogs’ material with four cuts by Tommy Fogerty and The Blue Velvets; those have been dropped from this release.
As opposed to the CCR recordings which bore solo songwriting credit for John Fogerty, most of The Golliwogs’ songs were joint compositions by John and Tom. Tom, onetime leader of the group, even shared lead vocals with his prodigiously-talented younger brother on a handful of these choice rock and roll nuggets. All told, seven 45s were released on the Scorpio and Fantasy labels, but none of these broke out on the national level. The closest was “Brown Eyed Girl” (not the Van Morrison song) which nearly hit the big time in the Miami, Florida market for four weeks beginning on February 26, 1966. It reached No. 10 on Billboard‘s “Regional Breakout” chart for Miami, a chart gauging record success below the standard Bubbling Under survey. However, both sides of The Golliwogs’ final single – “Porterville” b/w “Call It Pretending,” released in October 1967 – would have a further life. The single was reissued under the new name of CCR, and the A-side also appeared on the band’s debut long-player.
Fight Fire: The Complete Recordings 1964-1967 (which readers with particularly strong memories will remember was discussed as early as 2012!) promises to include detailed liner notes from Bay Area music historian and compilation producer Alec Palao, as well as rare archival photos of the group. It’ll be available on CD or double vinyl, several links of which are available to pre-order below!
The Golliwogs, Fight Fire: The Complete Recordings 1964-1967 (Fantasy FAN-36031-2, 2017)
- Brown-Eyed Girl
- Fight Fire
- Don’t Tell Me No Lies
- Walking On The Water
- You Can’t Be True (Version One)
- Try Try Try
- You Came Walking
- Fragile Child
- You Better Be Careful
- Little Tina
- I Only Met You Just An Hour Ago
- You Better Get It Before It Gets You
- Call It Pretending
- Gonna Hang Around
- Where You Been
- You Got Nothin’ On Me
- She Was Mine
- Tell Me
- Instrumental #1
- You Can’t Be True (Version Two)
- Little Girl (Does Your Momma Know)
- Action USA Spot
All tracks included on Creedence Clearwater Revival box set, Fantasy 6CCRCD-4434-2, 2001
Tracks 1 & 9 from Scorpio single 404, 1965
Tracks 2 & 8 from Scorpio single 405, 1965
Tracks 3 & 22 from Fantasy single 590, 1964
Tracks 4 & 12 from Scorpio single 408, 1965
Tracks 5 & 16 from Fantasy single 599, 1965
Tracks 6, 10-11, 14, 17-18, 20-21 & 23 first released on Creedence Clearwater Revival box set, Fantasy 6CCRCD-4434-2, 2001
Tracks 7 & 15 from Fantasy single 597, 1965
Tracks 13 & 19 from Scorpio single 412, 1967
Tracks 18 & 21 from Scorpio single 410 (cancelled), 1967