John Fogerty had a mixed experience at the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival in 1969. On one hand, Creedence Clearwater Revival were at the height of their fame and served as one of the marquee names of the festival’s lineup, along with acts like Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead. On the other, Fogerty and the band arrived at a massive scheduling snafu and torrential rain, forcing them to take the stage early in the morning hours.
“We were ready to rock out and we waited and waited and finally it was our turn … there were a half million people asleep,” Fogerty recalled about the band’s time slot. “These people were out. It was sort of like a painting of a Dante scene, just bodies from hell, all intertwined and asleep, covered with mud.”
Disappointed with the experience but inspired by the rain-soaked imagery he surveyed, Fogerty went back to California and began writing what would become CCR’s next single, ‘Who’ll Stop the Rain’. Although it had political undertones, Fogerty cleared up the source of inspiration at a Vermont concert in 2007.
“Well, this next song has a bit of a fable surrounding it. A lot of folks seem to think I sang this song at Woodstock way back then. No. I was at Woodstock 1969. I think. It was a nice event. I’m a California kid. I went up there and saw a whole bunch of really nice young people. Hairy. Colourful. It started to rain, and got really muddy, and then half a million people took their clothes off!” Fogerty remembered. “Boomer generation making its presence known, I guess. Anyway, then I went home and wrote this song.”
‘Who’ll Stop the Rain’ was part of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s infamous run of number two hits that the band had throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s. Although songs like ‘Proud Mary’ and ‘Bad Moon Rising’ were stone-cold classics, CCR had an unfortunate streak of bad luck that kept them from ever getting to number one. All told, five different singles from the band landed at number two without CCR ever reaching the top.
Check out ‘Who’ll Stop the Rain’ down below.