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John Fogerty philosophical after Nashville floods


Singer John Fogerty (L) performs at the 58th annual BMI Pop Awards in Beverly Hills, California, May 18, 2010. REUTERS/Fred Prouser
Singer John Fogerty (L) performs at the 58th annual BMI Pop Awards in Beverly Hills, California, May 18, 2010. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Like many musicians, former Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman John Fogerty lost some prized instruments in the recent Nashville floods.

But it could have been worse. In fact, Fogerty recalled at an awards ceremony in Beverly Hills on Tuesday that he has suffered greater calamities.

"Trust me, I love guitars and it was kind of sad to say goodbye to them," he said, referring to the submerged warehouses containing irreplaceable tools of the trade belonging to several music industry players.

"But losing a guitar is really nothing compared to losing a song, or a bunch of songs, or your life savings that was earned by those songs."

He stopped himself from elaborating, but Fogerty's woes are well known. During the late-1960s heyday of Creedence, when the California rockers ruled the charts with such songs as "Fortunate Son" and "Proud Mary," Fogerty -- the band's primary songwriter -- signed away the copyrights to his compositions.

He spent the ensuing decades in legal battles with his then-label boss, Saul Zaentz, to win back the rights, and the litigation went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The best that Fogerty got was royalty payments for his performance on the songs after Zaentz sold his interests to a label co-owned by noted Hollywood liberal Norman Lear in 2005.

Fogerty, 64, is philosophical these days about his copyright woes, and he is not alone, as the key songwriters in the Beatles and the Rolling Stones would attest.

He was speaking at the 58th annual BMI Pop Awards, during which the performing rights group honors the songwriters and publishers of the most-performed songs of the year.

Country starlet Taylor Swift won song of the year for "Love Story," while Moroccan-born producer RedOne was named songwriter of the year for his work on such Lady Gaga hits as "Just Dance" and "Poker Face."

Fogerty received the Icon Award for lifetime achievement, and treated the black-tie crowd to a quick run-through of 10 classics, including "Bad Moon Rising" and "Green River." His band included his guitarist sons Shane and Tyler.

Earlier, he told Reuters that of all his hits he was perhaps proudest of a relatively recent solo tune, "I Will Walk With You," from his 2004 solo album "Deja Vu." The song was inspired by his daughter Kelsey, who was an infant at the time.

"The whole idea was that it's Daddy's message to his child, all about how he will walk with you and look over you and be there by your side through your life," he said. "And I'm real proud of that song. At least at the time, it was an unusual type of song for me."

Swift, 20, told the crowd that "Love Story" was inspired by the "one epic teenage tantrum that I ever threw my whole life," after her parents disapproved of a boy she was interested in.

(Editing by Philip Barbara)

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