The legendary Creedence Clearwater Revival was America’s ultimate Top 40 band of the late 1960s, many of their singles now placing high on the “greatest rock hits of all time” lists and in the GRAMMY Hall of Fame, with the band itself long enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
But it wasn’t just the United States of America where CCR topped the charts. As Quiero Creedence now underscores, the band, which was so identified with a sound called “swamp rock,” was big throughout all of Latin America, both then and now.
The Latin-inspired, multilingual tribute album to Creedence includes covers of the band’s greatest songs by some of the biggest Latin artists from around the world including Juan Gabriel, Bunbury, Andrés Calamaro, Enjambre, Los Enanitos Verdes, Juanes, Los Lonely Boys, Ozomatli, La Marisoul from La Santa Cecilia, El Tri, Diamante Eléctrico, Los Lobos, as well as Billy Gibbons. As these names indicate, the set (the title of which translates as “I Want Creedence”) spans a variety of genres and decades—and totals a social media reach of over 40 million fans for the participating artists.
The first single from Quiero Creedence will be Mexican superstar Juan Gabriel’s Spanish version of “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?”
“Juan is so excited for it to be a single,” says Gustavo Farias, who produced the track. “He immediately started tweeting to let his fans know about the summer release—and that it’s not his song! Everyone’s freaking out because over 40 years, it’s the first song that he’s ever recorded that he didn’t write. So he’s really breaking ground.”
Himself an avowed CCR fan who listened mostly to them, The Beatles and Led Zeppelin growing up in Mexico, Farias nervously tracked Gabriel’s vocals on a laptop in a hotel room in the Mexican border state of Sonora—home to heavy drug smuggling. They returned there a couple weeks later when Gabriel was shooting a video, then tacked on a video shoot—in the middle of a jungle and with a total image change—to accompany the “Have You Ever Seen the Rain? (Gracias al Sol)” single.
“It’s my favorite CCR song, and I didn’t mess with it—just added a couple small mariachi guitars, vihuelas, to give it a little funky feeling,” adds Farias. “There are a couple nice violin lines, too, so there’s a little of Juan Gabriel’s personality and the essence of Creedence.”
For vocalist/bassist/keyboardist Marciano Cantero of Argentinean rock band Los Enanitos Verdes, the band’s English recording of CCR’s hit “Travelin’ Band” completes a circle.
“When I was a kid I’d go to the swimming pool with my brother every day in the summer and hear their music!” Cantero recalls. “So they’re one of my favorite bands, and to be invited to participate on this record completes a circle—and we’re also a traveling band! So it’s a very happy song for us, and we’ll be including it in our repertoire when we play live.”
Los Lonely Boys’ bassist/vocalist JoJo Garza likewise recalls growing up in western Texas to the sounds of Creedence Clearwater Revival, in addition to traditional conjunto, country music and rock.
“My dad must have really loved them, because we were always hearing CCR on 8-tracks—other than my dad and his brothers,” says Garza, whose band consists of three brothers and whose father Ringo Garza, Sr. had also formed a band with his brothers called The Falcones. “They had a swampy sound and feel, but it was almost like a Texas sound to us that was very special, that our father passed on to Los Lonely Boys and that we’re passing down to our kids—and hopefully far beyond. So this is a total dream come true.”
In recording “Born on the Bayou,” then, “we get to let our colors shine—because it’s a part of us,” continues Garza. “We used to do Creedence songs like ‘Suzie Q’ and ‘I Put a Spell on You’ at gigs, but we were always scared to play ‘Born on the Bayou’ because we didn’t want to mess it up! But when the opportunity came we felt it was finally time for us to do it right and put our Latin twist on it so that more Latinos know about Creedence and what they did for music and for people: They stood for the working man and the ones who had to do the fighting, and they were American and made a huge statement for our people. And we’re going through a lot of the same things they were going through now, so it’s almost perfect timing—and such a big honor for us.”
Producer/instrumentalist and Futuro Sonico founder Juan Manuel Caipo fuses rock and cumbia and rap on his Bay Area band Bang Data’s cover of “Fortunate Son.” But Caipo also had a hand in producing other artists on Quiero Creedence and has been in on the project since its inception.
“I’d always thought that Latin music and musicians were stereotyped,” says Caipo, “but we have rock, pop, electro, disco, funk—every genre, and so many of the artists were influenced by Creedence, but people never have heard that.”
He recalls a record company friend once suggesting that he cover a Creedence song.
“It stuck in my head, and then I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to do a tribute album with artists from all over Latin America?’ And we started slowly and organically, with every band doing their own take on songs they grew up with.”
Caipo serves as executive producer of Quiero Creedence, along with Dan Monahan, Criteria Entertainment CEO/founder—and former head of Capitol Latin—Diana Rodríguez and Concord Label Group president John Burk. He was performing with Bang Data in San Francisco when he mentioned his CCR tribute idea to Rodríguez, whose Colombian roster act V for Volume was also on the bill.
“He said how they were such a landmark, iconic band, that people across the world looked up to and marked a certain time in their lives—and I agreed completely,” says Rodríguez. “The first three artists to come on board were Bunbury, Los Lonely Boys and Los Enanitos Verdes, to whom we are eternally grateful. Then Los Lobos and Band of Bitches and Enjambre and the others, and slowly but surely it all came together with a good mix of established names and upcoming artists that shows how Creedence was a very important influence on both.”
John Burk, who also helped produce Andrés Calamaro’s “Long as I Can See the Light,” became involved after Rodríguez approached him at a Recording Academy function in Los Angeles. CCR’s classic Fantasy Records catalog, of course, is released through Concord.
“Being a fan of Latin music, I loved the idea of working with Latin artists to celebrate the far reaching influence of one of the greatest rock bands of the era, as well as the timeless songs of John Fogerty, so we decided to get involved,” notes Burk, who has produced Latin music artists including Tito Puente, Poncho Sanchez and Mongo Santamaría.
“It was great fun to see how creatively each band interpreted the songs, and their reverence for the music. Perhaps the most enthusiastic response came from Juan Gabriel. I asked my friend Gustavo Farias if Juan might be interested in getting involved, and he called me the next day and said, ‘he’s so excited, we’re recording next week.’ We were all thrilled and blown away when we heard Juan’s amazing interpretation of ‘Have You Ever Seen the Rain?’ And that’s the kind of experience we’ve had with all the artists’ interpretations.”
Caipo adds, “It’s not just for Latinos and Spanish speakers, since a lot of it is in English. But it’s such good music and it carries weight and has lasted for a long time. Walk into a bar in Mexico in the middle of nowhere, or Brazil or anywhere in the world, and you hear Creedence songs. I lived in Peru and Creedence was everywhere, always.”
As Rodríguez notes, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s songs are “timeless classics for all of us.” Quiero Creedence, she adds, is “an acknowledgement of all that work that touched a lot of people’s lives.”
She concludes, “I remember that day backstage with Juan Manuel in San Francisco and saying, ‘Hell, yeah! Let’s do this!’ and now it’s a reality that has surpassed all our expectations.”
Album Track Listing:
1. Bunbury – “Corre por la Jungla (Run Through the Jungle)”: Actually inspired by the proliferation of guns in America, “Run Through the Jungle” was half of a double-sided single (the other was “Up Around the Bend”) and reached No. 4 in 1970. It’s been previously covered by Los Lobos, not to mention the likes of Bruce Springsteen, and now by Spanish singer-songwriter Enrique Bunbury. Bunbury founded the successful 1980s Spanish rock band Héroes del Silencio. Since going solo in 1997, he has explored a broad swath of musical territory, taking him from world known cantina anthems to cabaret style and numerous rock subgenres. The track was produced by Jack Douglas.
2. Los Lobos – “Bootleg”: A particularly catchy tune on CCR’s 1969 album Born on the Bayou, “Bootleg” is an easy effort for Los Lobos, the GRAMMY-winning band being no stranger to the Creedence catalog having previously covered “Run Through the Jungle.” Formed in East Los Angeles in 1973, the critically acclaimed group first achieved international notice when their 1987 cover of Ritchie Valens’ rock ’n’ roll classic “La Bamba” topped the pop charts. They have since taken their unique Latin-inflected rock to ever greater heights, culminating with their first Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination last year.
3. Juan Gabriel – “Have You Ever Seen the Rain? (Gracias al Sol)”: Part of a two-sided hit (it was backed with “Hey Tonight”), “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” reached No. 8 in 1971. It makes a perfect fit for Juan Gabriel, Mexico’s top singer-songwriter, producer and arranger, who has penned hits for himself and the Latin likes of José José, Luis Miguel and Rocío Dúrcal while producing for artists including Dúrcal, Lucha Villa, Lola Beltrán and Paul Anka. His 1984 album Recuerdos, Vol. II became the best-selling album of all time in Mexico, and his hit “Querida” (My Dear) topped the charts for over a year.
4. Los Lonely Boys – “Born on the Bayou”: “Born on the Bayou” was the B-side of CCR’s 1969 signature hit “Proud Mary” and manifests the swamp rock appellation commonly given to their sound. It’s no stretch at all for Los Lonely Boys, who hail from San Angelo, Texas, and like Creedence, have a sibling connection in its lineup of brothers Henry Garza (guitar), JoJo Garza (bass) and Ringo Garza, Jr. (drums). Originally the backup group for father Ringo Garza, Sr., himself a musician in a sibling band (the Falcones, who played conjunto music in the 1970s and ’80s), Los Lonely Boys added tejano, Tex-Mex, blues and rock to their brand, and won a GRAMMY in 2005 for their song “Heaven.”
5. A Band of Bitches – “Feelin’ Blue”: The downcast “Feelin’ Blue” was an album track on CCR’s 1969 album Willy and the Poor Boys. Here it’s ironically picked up by A Band of Bitches, an irreverent, eclectic party rock band from Monterrey, Mexico, who first appeared in 2012 in latex masks and lounge lizard suits and described their music as “soft porn rock.” Indeed, their debut album was titled The Pre-End of the World Soundtrack and included songs like “Rock & Roll is Obscene.”
6. Ozomatli – “Bad Moon Rising”: About the apocalypse, the 1969 lead single from CCR’s Green River album reached No. 2 (in the U.K. it was No. 1) and has been covered since by at least a score of other artists while appearing in films including An American Werewolf in London and The Big Chill. Since its formation in Los Angeles in 1995, Ozomatli has incorporated rock, hip-hop, salsa, jazz, funk and reggae into its distinct sound. The GRAMMY-winning band also shares with CCR’s songwriter John Fogerty a progressive stance politically and in regard to social issues.
7. Enjambre – “Who’ll Stop the Rain”: Half of a two-sided single from 1970’s Cosmo’s Factory (the other side was “Travelin’ Band”), “Who’ll Stop the Rain” reached No. 2 on the pop singles charts, and is ranked No. 188 on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list. The lyrics show a cynical take on the political situation of the time, while also reflecting CCR’s performance during the rainy Woodstock rock festival in 1969. Based in Mexico City, retro-rock band Enjambre (the name means “swarm”) released its debut album in 2005, when brothers Luis (vocals) and Rafael Navejas (bass) were the core. They soon added youngest brother Julian (keyboard) and longtime friends Ángel Sánchez (drums) and Javier Mejía (guitar), and shortly thereafter secured a major label deal with EMI.
8. Andrés Calamaro – “Long as I Can See the Light”: From the Cosmo’s Factory album, “Long as I Can See the Light” reached No. 2 in 1970—as did its flip side hit “Lookin’ out My Back Door.” The soulful tune becomes the first song sung in English by Andrés Calamaro, one of the most popular Argentinean pop/rock songwriters, who first came to fame as composer of many hits for top Argentinean 1980s rock band Los Abuelos de la Nada, which he joined in 1981. Embarking on a solo career in 1984, he successfully produced bands including Los Enanitos Verdes, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs and Don Cornelio y la Zona, and after settling in Spain, enjoyed more success after forming the pop/rock band Los Rodríguez with former members of Tequila prior to returning to his solo career and scoring his biggest solo success with his 1997 album Alta Suciedad.
9. Bang Data – “Fortunate Son (Fortunate Hijo)”: The much-covered anti-war anthem “Fortunate Son” originally came out as a two-sided single (with “Down on the Corner”) from Willy and the Poor Boys, and peaked at No. 3 in 1969, during the height of the Vietnam War. It later placed No. 99 on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list, and in 2014, was added to the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” Led by vocalist Deuce Eclipse—known as an associate of Oakland hip-hop duo Zion I—and producer/instrumentalist Juan-Manuel Caipo, Oakland-based group Bang Data performs a unique bilingual blend of Latin, alternative, hip-hop, reggae, rock, Afro and electro. The group’s songs have been used in TV and film, with its self-titled single “Bang Data” featured on the hit AMC TV drama Breaking Bad in 2011.
10. El Tri – “Proud Mary”: CCR’s 1969 No. 2 hit has long been a rock standard, thanks to numerous performances by everyone from Elvis Presley to Bruce Springsteen and most notably, Ike & Tina Turner, whose 1979 single reached No. 4 and like Creedence’s is in the GRAMMY Hall of Fame. John Fogerty wrote it two days after his discharge from the National Guard, basing its opening on Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Mexico’s El Tri likewise originated in the ’60s (as Three Souls in My Mind), making it a pioneer of Latin rock. Described as “Mexico’s quintessential working-class rock outfit” as well as its answer to The Rolling Stones, the band was the country’s first rock group to earn a gold album (Simplemente).
11. Salvador Santana ft. Juanes & Asdru Sierra from Ozomatli – “Molina”: A single from CCR’s 1970 album Pendulum, “Molina” takes its title from a Spanish surname, though it’s a woman’s first name in the song. The recording’s arrangement atypically employed horns and keyboards. Like John Fogerty, singer-songwriter/keyboardist Salvador Santana is from the San Francisco Bay Area and is the son of the great Carlos Santana, with whom he composed the GRAMMY-winning track “El Farol” on the monster 1999 Santana album Supernatural. He’s accompanied here by Ozomatli’s lead vocalist/pianist Sierra, who sings background, and Columbia’s international pop/rock superstar Juanes on guitar.
12. Billy Gibbons & La Marisoul from La Santa Cecilia – “Green River”: CCR’s “Green River” reached No. 2 in 1969. John Fogerty actually based it on the Putah Creek near Winters, Calif., and took the “Green River” title from a soda syrup label. Billy Gibbons, of course, is world famous as guitarist/vocalist for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band ZZ Top. But his debut solo album Perfectamundo, released last year, had an Afro-Cuban flavor emanating from his little known background in Latin percussion. Marisol “La Marisoul” Hernandez is the lead vocalist of multi-faceted Los Angeles-based La Santa Cecilia, whose music has been featured on Weeds and won the GRAMMY in 2014 for Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album.
13. Diamante Eléctrico – “Up Around the Bend”: With “Run Through the Jungle,” “Up Around the Bend” was a double-sided single that reached No. 4 in 1970. It’s been covered by the likes of Elton John and Hanoi Rocks and appeared in numerous films and TV series including Remember the Titans, Red Dawn and My Name is Earl. Columbian rock band Diamante Eléctrico (Electric Diamond) formed in 2012 with Juan Galeano on lead vocals and bass, Daniel Alvarez on guitar and Andee Zeta on drums. It has since played such major international festivals as the Culture Collide Festival in Los Angeles and the Festival of Youths in Mexico and opened for the likes of Foo Fighters and The Rolling Stones; its 2015 album B won the Latin GRAMMY for Best Rock Album.
14. Los Enanitos Verdes – “Travelin’ Band (Viajero Band)”: Part of another double-sided CCR hit, “Travelin’ Band,” which was backed with “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” reached No. 2 in 1970. The road warrior ode owed much to the ’50s rock ’n’ roll epitomized vocally and structurally by Little Richard, and was covered by the likes of Elton John and Bruce Springsteen. Argentinean pop/rock band Los Enanitos Verdes (it translates roughly as “Little Green Men”) formed in 1979. After successfully playing concert venues throughout South and Central America, they became the first Argentinean group to land a U.S. recording contract and scored a GRAMMY nomination for Best Latin Rock Album for their 1998 PolyGram label release Tracción acústica and another for the following year’s Nectar.