CCR: The band that never played Pittsburgh

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Remember that time Creedence Clearwater Revival played Pittsburgh?

No, you don't.

CCR is one of the rare Woodstock acts, along with Jimi Hendrix, that never played here. The band came as close as Cleveland in July 1970 and Syracuse in July 1971.

"That's a mystery," says Pat DiCesare, who was the leading concert promoter here at the time. "I was always trying to book the act. I loved their music and thought they were great and would sell out the arena. We weren't doing stadiums then, but that's how big I thought they could have been."

One possibility, looking at the Civic Arena tour history, is that Tom Jones had the arena booked that week in '70 and '71, and in those days there was a "protection period" that limited how many concerts a promoter could do there within a week or month.

Rich Engler, still a fledgling promoter at the time, put an offer in on Creedence to play Three Rivers Stadium around 1971. He remembers it being about $75,000, which was a small fortune back then. "I didn't have that kind of money, but they were red hot and I thought it was a slam dunk," he says.

John Fogerty made his first appearance in Pittsburgh in September 1986, touring on his first album in a decade, "Centerfield." The Syria Mosque show was the second date on his first tour in 14 years.

He was in the midst of a lawsuit with Fantasy Records and refusing to perform CCR songs so the label could not make money from them. According to a story in the Lehigh Morning Call, the hall was three-quarters full and "From the outset of the Syria Mosque show, there were chants of 'Creedence!' and 'CCR!' and they continued sporadically throughout the 1-hour-and-40-minute show."

When he returned to play the Station Square amphitheater on the Blue Moon Swamp Tour in July 1997, fans were thrilled to find the CCR songs back in his set. It was the first tour doing them in 20 years, and he was starting his sets with a straight run of "Born on the Bayou," "Green River," "Lodi," "Lookin' Out My Back Door," "Suzie Q" and "I Put a Spell on You." On drums was John Mellencamp band member Kenny Aronoff.

He returned for a show at the Star Lake Amphitheatre in June 1998 that drew a disappointing 4,000 people. The opening act was Whiskeytown, led by a cocky young Ryan Adams, who despite being a Fogerty disciple, had to be pushed into the tour by his manager, and he was receiving no love from the older fan base.

According to the book "Ryan Adams: Losering, A Story of Whiskeytown," Mr. Adams was antagonizing the crowds with comments like, "We're Whiskeytown and you don't care, so [expletive] you. Up next is John Fogerty, who was born on the bayous of Southern California."

There's no duet with him on "Wrote a Song for Everyone" -- but it could have been a great one.

 


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