With a career spanning seven decades, John Fogerty is responsible for many of the songs we think of when the subject turns to "American classic rock." "Fortunate Son," "Bad Moon Rising," "Proud Mary" ... the list goes on and the hits keep coming from his years in Creedence Clearwater Revival to his impressive solo canon.
Headlining Encore Theater since 2017, when Fogerty takes the stage it is always a thunderous rock 'n' roll treat as he blasts through almost two dozen songs, all taking us back to a special time or place, no matter the era in which we first heard them. Fogerty's vivid storytelling is in a league all its own and his guitar rifts are what many other musicians have patterned their careers after.
The icon shares why he keeps coming back to Las Vegas again and again.
Has it surprised you how much you've enjoyed having a Las Vegas residency?
I wouldn't say surprised but playing in Las Vegas to me is a very special thing. I have been around a long time. I remember Frank and the Rat Pack. They were the Vegas guys, you know, Sammy Davis, and all that. Tuxedos and sitting there with their drinks onstage. It was a whole vibe about them and Las Vegas in those days. I carried that image with me. And considered the idea of me playing in Las Vegas ... I thought was sort of an outsider kind of thing. It seemed almost like an experiment. But I also felt it was an honor. I told people way back at the first run, 'this is something to get good at.' It's an honor to be able to do this. I love what I do, I love music. You have to honor what you're doing, go out on that stage and honor the music you're playing, do it with dignity.
At Encore Theater, I am able to pay attention to the audience. It's lovely. Sometimes people shout stuff out, I can stop and actually interact.
What gets you excited every night?
I look out and see young people, old people, we're all different stripes of culture, and politics and religions. We're Americans and we have people who come from far away. They're music fans so that's fun, too. It's almost like a sporting event in the sense that, you don't know the outcome, it's not guaranteed. And you have to work hard for that eventual victory. I'm trying to win the audience over and it's a brand new team out there every night.
In September, the long-anticipated recording from CCR's 1970 show at London’s Royal Albert Hall was finally released. If you could write a letter to that 25 year old John, what would you tell him?
The first thing I would tell me is, 'talk to the audience more, interact more.' I was surprised about how little I did that then because now it's so natural for me. I didn't perform in front of audiences for about 25 years. I didn't play the old songs. When I came back, touring in 1997, it was joyous for me, because I had really missed it. And the first thing I wanted to do was say, 'Hello, I'm so happy to be here.' I really was overjoyed because I was older and had matured, and I recognized in myself and certainly with my beautiful wife, how blessed I was to have this life now. I don't think at 25 ... I couldn't respond in those ways at all. I would tell that young guy to interact with the audience, because they want to know that you're okay, they're wondering what's going on. When you're a rock star, and that young, you don't interact. They think their job is just to play the song. Now, there is something besides me being on the stage, and besides the audience, and besides the songs. If you do this right, there's something way beyond that, it's palpable—and everybody in the room knows when it happens. You're providing an experience that you can't quite quantify.
What always gets you excited about coming back to this place this beautiful playing?
Wynn is a very classy place. I hope it's okay with everyone that I say it that way. I didn't say classy joint. It's such a nice place and I get to come back, play my songs and strive for that 'thing' up there. I'm always excited to do that. I think this is where the butterflies come from.