What You Didn't Know About John Fogerty's Time In The Army

As noted by Pitchfork in 2018, Creedence Clearwater Revival's music "has soundtracked visions of the Vietnam War in pop culture for what feels like an eternity." In 1978, a movie about a war correspondent smuggling heroin from Vietnam to the United States took its name, Who'll Stop The Rain, from a Creedence song. The music of frontman and songwriter John Fogerty and the rest of the band has become shorthand for the Vietnam era and can be heard in Apocalypse Now1969, Forrest Gump, Born on the Fourth of July, and The Post, to name a few.

Ironically, writes Pitchfork, "most Creedence songs contain no direct reference to the war." Even the much-referenced song "Fortunate Son," inspired by Fogerty's anger over the sons of politicians getting deferments from military service and "[not] being touched by what their parents were doing," was said by drummer Doug Clifford to be "really not an anti-war song. It's about class. Who did the dirty work?"

Did John Fogerty, whose music became the default soundtrack to the Vietnam War in pop culture representations of the war and the era in which it occurred, actually have a military background? Short answer: He did, and although Fogerty wasn't sent to Vietnam, he served in the Army from 1966 to 1968, per Fort Knox News. 

Military service inspired some of Fogerty's lyrics

In 1966, Fogerty went to an Army recruitment office right around the time his draft number came up, as reported by the Fort Knox NewsHe signed up to be a supply clerk with the United States Army Reserve. He ended up being on active duty for six months and serving in the Reserves for two years. After going through basic training in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, he was stationed at Fort Knox in Kentucky, which Fogerty described as "pretty intense because this was right at the height of the Vietnam War. Every young man's clock was running pretty fast." 

Fogerty credited his military experience with teaching him personal discipline and maturity and noted that his service influenced his songwriting. He specifically mentioned that his song "Wrote A Song For Everyone" was about "a guy who went through the military at a very emotional and volatile time in history." Another song, "Porterville," which ended up being the first song released by Creedence Clearwater Revival after the band changed their name from its earlier iteration, The Golliwogs, was reportedly "conceived in the heat of Kentucky," and begins with the lyric "It's been an awful long time since I been home." According to Fort Knox News, Fogerty wrote the song while he was "marching for countless hours on a 1-mile square asphalt parade field, dreaming of someday becoming a rock star."