John Fogerty Takes Final Swing Against Former Label Boss Following Death
John Fogerty showed that he neither forgave nor forgot the decades of legal hassles he endured during his years battling former Fantasy Records label owner Saul Zaentz by tweeting the video of his 1985 song slamming Zaentz as a fraud and a thief. The Hollywood Reporter posted that Zaentz died on January 3rd, at age 92 from complications from Alzheimer's. Following his years in music, Zaentz went on to become an Oscar-winning producer snagging three Best Picture Academy Awards for 1975's One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, 1984's Amadeus, and 1996's The English Patient.
Over the years, Zaentz, who bought Fantasy Records in 1967 and signed Creedence Clearwater Revival when they were still unknowns, had become the bane of Fogerty's existence -- firstly by keeping him tied to a recording and publishing contract, which Fogerty felt robbed him of all control of his art, and led him to walk away from the music business for a full decade. Upon his return in 1985 with the blockbuster solo set, Centerfield, Fogerty swung at Zaentz with two tracks on the album -- "Mr. Greed" and "Zanz Can't Dance" -- with lyrics such as "Zanz can’t dance but he’ll steal your money" and a video featuring dancing pigs. Zaentz went on to sue Fogerty for defamation of character, and Fogerty was forced to change the name of the song to "Vanz Can't Dance" on future pressings of the album.
The battle between Fogerty and Zaentz -- who according to popular consensus should've cut Fogerty a better deal after the multi-millions he earned for Zaentz -- escalated in the '80s with Zaentz suing Fogerty for copyright infringement, claiming that Fogerty had stolen his 1985 hit "The Old Man Down The Road" from his own Creedence classic "Run Through The Jungle" -- which Zaentz owned the publishing to. Fogerty defended himself by taking the witness stand, guitar in hand, and displaying the distinct musical differences of each song. Fogerty prevailed in the case, and successfully sued Zaentz for legal fees.
John Fogerty was never able to get over the fact that his former bandmates essentially sided with Zaentz in the years following the group's demise, a point that was underscored by Fogerty's refusal to perform with surviving members -- and high school buddies -- Stu Cook and Doug Clifford -- at the band's 1993 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
John Fogerty explained that the troubles with Saul Zaentz even came between him and older brother and bandmate Tom Fogerty finding peace with one another prior to Tom's 1990 death from AIDS: "Unfortunately, Tom and I never reconciled in a meaningful way. Y'know, of course, I went to see him when he was very ill in the hospital a few times and I was 'the correct family brother.' One of the last things Tom said to me was, 'Saul Zaentz is my best friend.' It's like, you look at the guy and you go, 'Wait a minute; you know all the pain I've been through, you know the contracts, the cheating, and all the rest -- you know all that stuff, and how I alone have been the one to have paid the price from our group, which made him so enormously wealthy and successful -- how can we be sitting here talking about reconciliation and you hit me with. . . you say something like that?!' Oh, it hurt me terribly. It still hurts! Blood should be thicker than water."
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