“The Broadway musical Hair is such a watered down version of what is really going on that I can’t get behind it at all,” exclaims John Fogerty, the lead voice and driving force behind the Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Contacted in his San Francisco office, Fogerty had just awakened from an all night recording session. He took exception to Hair which rose to critical acclaim the world over and now has 22 companies performing the nude scene musical in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Cincinnati and in 13 foreign countries. A production in Rome, Italy, opened in September and the Japanese company reopens in November.
Hair is reaching a mass audience and that's the most I can say for it,” Fogerty says. “It is bringing rock music to a lot of people who wouldn’t listen before. There are so many things in the way of motives as to why the show was written. It’s a Broadway production. It’s not for kids. It was written by Broadway writers for a Broadway show, the same as My Fair Lady.”
Fogerty, who has never seen Hair, admits to being somewhat bias against Broadway musicals.
“There are too many gimmicks in Broadway musicals. Somebody sings a line, then a chorus comes out and repeats the line several times. Most of the songs in Bye Bye Birdie and Hair weren’t legitimate rock songs, but Broadway songs.
“Hair has given us an aura of youth, the music and attributes of the young, meaning hair and clothing and maybe some of the philosophy that the younger generation has nowadays. But I had the impression that here is a bunch of people who are saying, “Here is where it’s at” and I don’t buy that. I don’t like shows that try to jam a feeling down my throat without giving me enough credit for having enough intelligence to realize that all it is is one man’s opinion.
“A person who is actually in rock ‘n’ roll would see Hair differently. In writing that show we would have been more concerned with seeing that it was a real rock show. Hair has the same thing the matter with it that Bye Bye Birdie had wrong: people who really aren't in rock ‘n’ roll music writing rock songs,” lamented the author of 5 albums and 10 single hits. “There are very few profound thinkers under 30 writing philosophical songs. I wouldn’t attempt to write like that. I don’t think I speak for 50 or 60 million people.
“I hope that there are more rock shows on Broadway,” the Fantasy Record artist continues. “Rock shows on Broadway can only get better. Competition makes people strive for more quality. You can’t really expect the first show or two to be perfect.
“What really turned me off about Hair was the exploitation of the show on topics that didn’t have anything to do with the musical. You could see some guy on TV saying, 'I'm from the cast of Hair and I use this face product or I drink that brand of soft drink.' It was the exploitation that made me not want to see the show. The same thing is true of the movie "Easy Rider." All of the commercials that have nothing to do with the play really turn me off."
Fogerty is concerned about an honest message in today's songs, which don't insult the listener's intelligence. He feels the main message in today's songs is frustration at the way things are right now. Part of the music he writes shows frustration, and he doesn't know what to do about it. He feels it has gotten to the point where it has all been said.
"I want to take a different slant on things. I think a lot of rational people are beginning to see that things are wrong. Basically, rock is for the young people. Most adults in my mother's day and today think all rock sounds alike. I really don't care of the 30-to-40-year-old adults like the music," exclaimed the 25-year-old.
The young composer liked the music of the '50's. He felt it was honest and basic with none of the pseudo-sophistication involvement prevalent in present-day music. Fogerty feels we are in an era of trying to involve music mechanically, which to some degree may have damaged the quality.
"Today there is talk and more talk, but nothing is being done. I liken that to just more rain. Even I don't have the answers, but at least I realize that one of the problems is too much talk and not anything being done about it. "I realize that my songs are successful and i feel like I'm in a weird paradox. Maybe some day I'll feel the weight of that responsibility and do something about the legitimate theater, but certain conditions would have to be met first. I really would have to think that I had something to say and that it couldn't be done better any other way. The entire show would have to be not only something that I believed in, but all of ti would have to be believable. Above all the show wouldn't be exploited. That is what detracted from Hair. The show did an open form of communication, but it ended there. The over commercialization ruined any other good points the show may have had. If I took on the responsibility of a Broadway show, I'd want it to be honest."