As a recovering stand-up comic, I have had the opportunity to open for many national acts. Sadly, this is more a reflection of a concert promoter’s frugality than an indication of my amazing comedic talents. So, along the way I opened for everyone from Kool and the Gang to REM to the Ramones.
I got a call in 1987 to open for John Fogerty at a Vietnam-vets benefit in Washington, DC. Well, I am one of those people who believe Fogerty is the American songwriter and whose recordings continue to reflect the American experience more than any other contemporary artist. So, yeah, I like the guy. I immediately said yes.
In the year preceding this event, however, Fogerty, because of legal snags and bitterness toward his former label, was not performing the old CCR [Creedence Clearwater Revival] stuff. I remember thinking how ironic it would be to have him skip songs like “Fortunate Son” and “Who'll Stop the Rain” while in DC for vets and families of a conflict still very much alive in their hearts and minds. It bothered me, puzzled me.
The event was scheduled for July 4, and as the day approached, many people made a sojourn to the still-new Vietnam Veterans Memorial. So, early on the Fourth, I joined them. We walked along a wall that carries the visitor down a path, revealing in chronological order the names of the tens of thousands of American men and women who died during the long conflict.
As I walked along the solemn path, I looked up and saw John Fogerty. Modestly dressed, he was walking alone, as though he were taking it all in. He reached up and touched a name, took a step back. I didn’t say anything to him, and from what I could tell, he went unrecognized.
The next day he performed for thousands of Americans. My role had been reduced to an emcee, but I didn’t mind. Even though I never got to meet him, all was cool. Especially when for the first time in years, Fogerty blasted through songs like “Fortunate Son” and “Who'll Stop the Rain.”
DJ: Chip Franklin
Station: KOGO AM 600
Shift: Weekdays from 5:00–9:00 a.m.