John Fogerty’s ‘Sabotage’ Allegation Against The Grateful Dead

In 1969, the Woodstock Festival saw performances from many rock bands, including The Grateful Dead and Creedence Clearwater Revival. But both bands were absent from the documentary film and the album that followed the festival next year.

The Los Angeles Times later reported that some performances might not have been included due to their quality. During an interview with The Times in 2019, John Fogerty delved into why his band’s act didn’t make it to the final cut.

Detailing what happened that day, he pointed out that the Grateful Dead ran over its set time while under the influence of LSD, causing CCR to take the stage after midnight. The singer recalled:

“We ran onstage ready to rock’ n’ roll, but everybody was just lying there in front of the stage asleep. That’s why I didn’t want it on the record or in the film. I figured, at best, it wouldn’t help, and at worst, it might hurt us for people to see that… They sabotaged our chance in the limelight.”

Still, the vocalist’s view on the Grateful Dead changed throughout the years:

“Over time, I have developed quite an affection for the Dead. They mumbled their way through a career, and they outlasted the Man. They changed the paradigm by doing it their own way, and they made it work. But at Woodstock, they were just a bunch of drugged-out hippies.”

Some of the tracks CCR played at Woodstock, like ‘Bad Moon Rising’ and ‘Proud Mary,’ found their way to number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 before the performance. As they took the stage at the festival, their new single ‘Green River’ was waiting to reach the same spot in the US charts.

So, Fogerty felt that including the Woodstock performance in the 1970 documentary film would affect the band’s career and reputation. But some of the other members disagreed with him.

According to Hank Bordowitz’s book ‘Bad Moon Rising: The Unauthorized History of Creedence Clearwater Revival,’ when Stu Cook later talked about the festival, he said:

“The performances are classic CCR, and I’m still amazed by the number of people who don’t even know we were one of the headliners at Woodstock ’69.”

CCR eventually let its festival gigs be used in the box set ‘Woodstock: Three Days of Peace and Music’ in 1994. The band also reissued the hour-long set as an LP to celebrate Woodstock’s 50th anniversary.

You can listen to one of the tracks from the album in the video below.