Music

When John Fogerty Was Sued for Plagiarizing Himself

The Guardian had a weekend feature about some of the weirdest lawsuits in the history of rock which included the infamous John Fogerty v. Saul Zaentz case from the 90s.

Back in the 60s, Fogerty was the prinicple member of Creedence Clearwater Revival and the main songwriter of all their hits.  But like many songwriters of that era, Fogerty lost control of the ownership of his music.  He ceded controlling interest to Saul Zaentz, the owner of Fantasy Records, CCR’s old label, just to get out from under a punishing contract.

Fogerty battled with Zaentz to regain his work for years.  The most surreal moment came when Zaentz argued that Fogerty’s 1985 solo track “The Old Man Down the Road” was merely CCR’s “Run Through the Jungle” with new words.  Zaentz sued Forgerty for plagiarizing himself.  This was the one and only time such a case has been brought before the courts.

And it went all the up to the US Supreme Court.  The case was argued in December 1993 with the verdict handed down on March 1, 1994 (Fogerty v. Fantasy, Inc, 517 US 1994).

Fogerty won the case (well, mostly), but the battle for control of this music went on for years afterwards.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37438 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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