John Fogerty will live dangerously this Saturday, as the former Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman performs his song catalog without a net on the PBS bow of the Emmy-winning “Live by Request.”
Repertoire for the two-hour live telecast will reflect fan requests sent via interactive video, call-ins, text messages, e-mail and social networking sites. Fogerty will tap a voluminous catalog of compositions that includes Creedence’s many hits, half a dozen solo releases and two collections of covers cut pseudonymously as the Blue Ridge Rangers. In preparation, the singer-songwriter-guitarist has been drilling his band at rehearsals in Los Angeles.
“We just have to learn … everything,” Fogerty said with a laugh. “I know all the songs and, remarkably, I know most of the words… We’ve been just going over the whole catalog, really, and seeing what we’ve gotta do.”
While that’s no easy task, he noted that things could be tougher, comparatively speaking: “Billy Burnette, who’s in my band, was also at one time playing with Bob Dylan, and he told me that with Dylan he had to know 500 songs.”
On the heels of “Live by Request,” Fogerty kicks off a tour Nov. 12 at Hollywood’s Kodak Theater. The dates, which run through late November, support his current Verve album, “The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again.”
The set’s deliberately ungrammatical title refers back to the Rangers’ 1973 debut, on which Fogerty played all the instruments. For the 2009 sequel, he enlisted other musicians to augment his working band, including hotshot Nashville guitarist Buddy Miller and pedal steel luminary Greg Leisz.
“I told myself, if I ever do this again, I’m gonna get real guys to play — and I didn’t just mean sort-of guys, like I was, on those instruments; I meant real guys,” Fogerty explained. “I was too shy to approach real guys like (dobro master) Jerry Douglas or Greg Leisz.”
Fogerty’s roots are on display in his Rangers versions of songs originated by Rick Nelson, John Prine, the Everly Brothers, John Denver and even Pat Boone, and his past is visible in the recent expanded DVD version of “Woodstock,” which for the first time includes Creedence’s appearance at the storied 1969 rock festival.
Fogerty said he’s in no hurry to view the footage, kept off the market for years by acrimony between the musician and his former label, Fantasy Records: “I’m happy that it’s there … (But) I have not seen it. Somebody’s gonna have to pin me down and say, ‘Now you have to watch.’ “