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Fogerty, John

John Fogerty

Singer, songwriter, guitarist

John Fogerty is "a great American songwriter, with the clean-cut narrative gifts of [rock pioneer] Chuck Berry, the honesty of [country star] Hank Williams and the rave-up musical skills of a perfesser in a Saturday night juke joint," declared Jay Cocks of Time. Perhaps best known as the driving force behind what Jim Miller of Newsweek labeled "the best American rock band of its era," Creedence Clearwater Revival, Fogerty, with his writing, lead guitar, and vocals, led the group to prominence during the late 1960s and early 1970s. With the other members of Creedence, he is responsible for rock classics such as "Proud Mary," "Bad Moon Rising," and "Who'll Stop the Rain." After Creedence disbanded in 1972, Fogerty's first attempt at making a solo career for himself was only moderately successful. During the mid-1970s he became embroiled in legal battles with Fantasy, Creedence's record label, and an accounting firm that had allegedly mishandled his funds. Embittered, he dropped out of the music scene for approximately nine years. In 1985, however, Fogerty resurfaced with a new album, Centerfield. In addition to the smash title track paean to baseball, it included the hits "The Old Man down the Road" and "Rock and Roll Girls." Hailed by critics and fans alike, the album established him as a popular artist in his own right.

Found Fame with Creedence

The multi talented Fogerty began his musical career while still in junior high in El Cerrito, California. He joined with fellow students Stu Cook and Doug Clifford to form a group called the Blue Velvets. They were later joined by Fogerty's older brother, Tom, and performed in the San Francisco Bay area. The young men also made a few recordings on small local labels such as Kristy and Orchestra, but these efforts did not sell. In 1964, however, the Blue Velvets landed a contract with Fantasy Records in nearby Berkeley. A year later the group had changed its name to the Golliwogs, but they were still unable to craft a hit record. Fantasy lost interest in them, and the band recorded a few singles for the local Scorpio label. Eventually, label honcho Saul Zaentz encouraged the Golliwogs to re-sign, though he suggested the group find itself a better name. Thus, in 1968 they were re-christened Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Creedence's first hit single was a 1968 revision of Dale Hawkins's 1957 hit "Suzie Q.," with John Fogerty singing the lead. Subsequently, the band primarily kept to recording Fogerty's original compositions. In 1969 Creedence scored with several chart hits, including "Proud Mary," "Bad Moon Rising," "Lodi," "Green River," and "Commotion." They followed these up with 1970's "Who'll Stop the Rain," "Looking Out My Back Door," and "Run through the Jungle," which Cocks called one of "the first songs about Viet Nam that sounded as if [it] could have been sung by the soldiers as well as peace marchers." In 1971, however, tensions arising from John Fogerty's artistic domination of the group led older brother Tom to quit the band. Though John Fogerty subsequently shared the song-writing tasks with the remaining members, and completed a successful European tour with them, Creedence finally broke up in 1972.

Went Solo in 1973

After Fogerty became a solo artist, he released the country-flavored Blue Ridge Rangers in 1973. Through the use of overdubbing different tracks during the recording process, he played all the instruments and sang all the vocals himself. Fogerty's efforts were rewarded with borderline hit status for the album's single "Hearts of Stone."

Fogerty stopped recording in the mid-1970s, when legal disputes with Fantasy and his accounting firm began to take up much of his time. An album of disco-oriented material titled Hoodoo was planned in 1976 for Asylum, but the label's president convinced the artist to withdraw the mediocre disc and get to work on whatever was blocking his creative process. "There was an anvil over my head," Fogerty told Cocks. "Writing, the music, my understanding of 'arrange' and 'produce' were gone." But he planned to make a comeback when the legal battles were over, and he continued to practice daily.

Finally, during the early 1980s, Fogerty began to write songs again. He composed what would become Centerfield in roughly five and a half months, and took the results to Warner Brothers Records. According to Cocks, Fogerty asked Lenny Waronker, the president of the company, "How does a 39-year-old has-been rock singer get you to listen to his records?" But Waronker listened, and Centerfield was on its way.

Most critics raved about the 1985 release, on which Fogerty again played all the instruments himself; most of them also noted its relationship to the swampy-sounding Creedence repertoire. "Fogerty's new music [is] like rediscovering a long-lost friend," Miller observed, and Kurt Loder of Rolling Stone proclaimed it "a near-seamless extension of the Creedence sound and a record that's likely to convert a whole new generation of true believers." Centerfield rose quickly on the album charts, hitting the Top Ten in only three weeks. "The Old Man down the Road," the first single from the album, "sounds like nothing else on the radio," applauded Cocks, "a swampy, spooky piece of back-country funk about a mojo man who becomes a figure of mystery, and of death." The album's title song, in which Fogerty uses his love of baseball as a metaphor for his joy in making music, became not only a hit record but a standard anthem played in baseball stadiums across the United States. Other interesting cuts from Centerfield included "Big Train," a tribute to the old rockabilly sound of Sun Records, and "Zanz Kant Danz," which Loder speculated might be an attack on the former head of Fantasy Records, Saul Zaentz. Indeed, to circumvent litigation, Warner changed the title of the tune to "Vanz Kant Danz" on later releases of the album.

For the Record …

Born John Cameron Fogerty on May 28, 1945, in Berkeley, CA; son of Gaylord Robert (a printer) and Lucille (a teacher) Fogerty; married; first wife, Martha Piaz, second wife, Julie Lebiedzinski; four children.

Singer, songwriter, guitarist, 1959–; played with the Blue Velvets beginning 1959, name changed to the Golliwogs, c. 1965, and then Creedence Clearwater Revival, 1968–72; joined the Army Reserve and served six months of active duty, 1966; solo artist, 1972–76; dropped out of music business, c. 1976–85; solo recording artist and concert performer, 1985–; has recorded for Fantasy, Asylum, Warner Bros., and Geffen.

Awards: Inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as member of Creedence Clearwater Revival, 1993; Grammy Award for Best Rock Album, for Blue Moon Swamp, 1997; Recipient of the Orville H. Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award, 1998; inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, 2005.

Addresses: Record company—Fantasy / Concord Music Group, 270 North Canon Dr., 1212, Beverly Hills, CA 90210, label website: http://www.concordmusicgroup.com. Booking—Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212-1825. Website—Official John Fogerty Website: http://www.johnfogerty.com.

Cocks declared that Fogerty's music seems "timeless … torn out of some imaginary territory in rock's persistent past." Miller concluded that "Fogerty's sensibility has an enduring popular appeal," and hailed him as "the once and future poet laureate of the pop single."

Re-embraced His Classic Songs

Fogerty quickly followed up with 1985's Eye of the Zombie, a less gimmicky, harder rocking album that sported darker overtones. The apocalyptic sentiments expressed in such songs such as "Violence is Golden," "Headlines," and "Eye of the Zombie" sat well with critics. Anthony DeCurtis of Rolling Stone praised Fogerty's "ability to dramatize sociopolitical realities in unpretentious flesh and blood terms."

Fogerty's recording career has endured notorious fits and starts. Some of the gaps between albums were due to his long and costly involvement in lawsuits, while others were caused by his slow, methodical working method. After a rash of creativity during the mid-1980s, he simply didn't release another album for eleven years. During that time away from the recording studio, he began playing live shows and benefits, eventually warming to the idea of performing some of his best-loved CCR material again.

This change in attitude crystalized after the 1997 release of Blue Moon Swamp. A simple, roots-music-drenched set boasting fine hook songs and heartfelt performance, the album featured smartly crafted rockers that echoed early CCR, ala "Hot Rod Heart," "Rambunctious Boy," and "Swamp River." While touring behind the disc, Fogerty caused a stir by performing several old classics along with his new material. Buoyed by the positive reaction to his old CCR tunes, Fogerty released the live concert set Premonition in 1998.

The inclusion of his classic CCR material in his live set made Fogerty a major concert draw again. Artistically, his early Vietnam protest anthems provided a sense of continuity for his 2004 release Deja Vu All Over Again. The album was a grab bag collection of neatly crafted rockers, swamp blues, and country, and the title track caused a stir by comparing the circumstances in Vietnam to the war in Iraq. Overnight, Fogerty was considered relevant again.

Fogerty surprised longtime fans by returning to the label where it all started for him, Fantasy Records. By then Saul Zaentz had sold the label to the Concord Music Group, and famed TV producer Norman Lear, an investor with the group, convinced the singer-songwriter to return to Fantasy in 2005. His first project there was a dual CD/DVD release that highlighted live renditions of his best-known songs from every phase of his career, titled The Long Road Home—The Concert. Sounding surprisingly young and commanding the stage with impressive energy and verve, the 60-year-old Fogerty used the disc to pay his respects to the fans who had remained loyal through all the legal battles and lengthy hiatuses. "God bless you for being fans. All that love that's coming up this way? Well, right back at you!…. Thank you for sticking with me all these years."

Selected discography

Singles

"Jambalaya (On the Bayou)," Fantasy, 1973.
"Hearts of Stone," Fantasy, 1973.
"Rockin' All Over the World," Asylum, 1975.
"Almost Saturday Night," Asylum, 1975.
"The Old Man Down the Road," Warner, 1985.
"Rock and Roll Girls," Warner, 1985.
"Centerfield," Warner, 1985.
"Working in a Hurricane," Warner, 1997.
"Premonition," Warner, 1997.

Albums With Creedence Clearwater Revival

Creedence Clearwater Revival, Fantasy, 1968; reissued, 2005.
Bayou Country, Fantasy, 1969; reissued, 2005.
Green River, Fantasy, 1969; reissued, 2005.
Willy and the Poor Boys, Fantasy, 1969; reissued, 2005.
Cosmo's Factory, Fantasy, 1970; reissued, 2005.
Pendulum, Fantasy, 1970; reissued, 2005.
Mardi Gras, Fantasy, 1972; reissued, 2005.
Live in Europe, Fantasy, 1973; reissued, 2005.
Live in Germany, Fantasy, 1973; reissued, 2005.
The Concert [Live] Fantasy, 1980.
Mardi Gras, Fantasy, 1972; reissued, 2005.
Creedence Clearwater Revival, (Box Set), Fantasy, 2001.
The Ultimate Creedence Clearwater Revival, Fantasy, 2005.
26 Greatest Hits, Fantasy, 2006.

Solo Albums

Blue Ridge Rangers, Fantasy, 1973; reissued, 1994.
John Fogerty, Asylum, 1975; reissued, Fantasy, 2002.
Centerfield, Warner Brothers, 1985; reissued, Dreamworks, 2005.
Eye of the Zombie, Warner Brothers, 1986; reissued, Dreamworks, 2001.
Blue Moon Swamp, Warner Brothers, 1997.
Premonition [Live], Warner Brothers, 1998; reissued, Geffen, 2004.
Deja Vu All Over Again, Geffen, 2004.
The Long Road Home—In Concert, Fantasy, 2006.

Videos

Premonition [Live], Warner Brothers, 1998.
The Long Road Home, Fantasy/Concord Music Group, 2005.

Sources

Books

Bordowitz, Hank, Bad Moon Rising—The Unofficial History of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Schirmer, 1998.

Rees, Dafydd and Luke Crampton, VH1 Music First—Rock Stars Encyclopedia, Dorling Kindersly, 1999.

Periodicals

Newsweek, February 18, 1985.

Rolling Stone, January 31, 1985; March 14, 1985.

Time, January 28, 1985.

Online

"John Fogerty," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (November 2, 2006).

"John Fogerty," Internet Movie Database, http://www.imdb.com. (November 2, 2006).

"John Fogerty," Rolling Stone.com, http://www.rollingstone.com. (November 2, 2006).

"John Fogerty Embraces His Past," CMT.com, http://www.cmy.com/news/articles/1518067/20051213/fogerty_john.jhtml?headlines=t. (November 2, 2006)

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Fogerty, John

JOHN FOGERTY

Born: Berkeley, California, 28 May 1945

Genre: Country, Rock

Best-selling album since 1990: Blue Moon Swamp (1997)


John Fogerty's triumphant solo career has been a puzzling journey. As the celebrated singer/songwriter of the legendary rock group Creedence Clearwater Revival, Fogerty wrote nine Top 10 singles between 1968 and 1972. Yet his success was marred by legal entanglements over the rights to his songs and related stress that forced him into seclusion and nearly into retirement.

In 1959, Fogerty played in his first band with his older brother, Tom Fogerty, while growing up in a suburb outside of the San Francisco Bay area. Along with drummer Doug Clifford and bass player Stu Cook, they formed the Blue Velvets. In 1963 the band took on a British sound, donned blonde wigs, and changed their name to the Golliwogs. They released several singles between 1963 and 1967 as Fogerty began to wrest the lead vocal work from his older brother. In addition to singing, both brothers could play guitar, keyboards, dobro, harmonica, drums, and other instruments, but the younger Fogerty was beginning to emerge as the group's leader. He also played lead guitar while Tom played rhythm guitar. In 1967 they formed Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) under the management of Fantasy Records.

CCR scored hit after hit over the next four years with pop/rock standards such as "Proud Mary," "Bad Moon Rising," "Looking Out My Back Door," "Travelin Band," "Who'll Stop The Rain," "Fortunate Son," "Green River," and many other songs whose words and music were written by John. In addition, he arranged the songs, produced the recordings, and even managed the band. Dismayed with their lack of control, the other band members grew disgruntled, and Tom Fogerty quit in 1971 to pursue a solo career. CCR recorded one more album and then disbanded in 1972. CCR entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, but John opted not to play with his former band mates at the evening's festivities because of his resentment at Clifford and Cook for forming a mid-1990s touring version of CCR that capitalized on what Fogerty felt he had built. Tom Fogerty died of AIDS on September 6, 1990.

The twelve years that followed the break-up of CCR produced only a lukewarm solo project recorded in the midst of a bitter legal quagmire between Fogerty and Fantasy Records that limited the songwriter's ability to concentrate on his music. Fantasy ended up retaining ownership of Fogerty's CCR songs in exchange for his freedom from a long and binding album contract. This result caused him to withdraw from the music business until additional pending legal situations with the record company could be resolved. In 1984 Fogerty began recording what became a hugely successful comeback album, Centerfield (1985). The album's title song was inspired by Fogerty's passion for baseball and his memories of watching Willie Mays roam center field in Candlestick Park when he attended San Francisco Giant games in his youth. In a bizarre strategy, Fantasy Records, which now owned all of Fogerty's CCR songs, felt that one song from the album, " The Old Man Down the Road," sounded too much like a CCR hit titled, "Run Through the Jungle." Fantasy sued for the song's profits, making Fogerty the only person in music history to be litigated for plagiarizing his own music. To combat the plagiarizing charges, Fogerty toted a guitar to the witness stand in 1988 and demonstrated his songwriting process for the jury. Fantasy also felt that some of Fogerty's lyrics on the album slandered a top executive in the company, and the company took him to court on that charge as well. The courts finally ruled in favor of Fogerty on all counts in 1995.

Fogerty followed Centerfield with a less successful solo effort, Eye of the Zombie (1986), and then disappeared once again from the music mainstream.

In 1991 Fogerty married and started a family. Fogerty and his wife, Julie, have four children. This new role as a family man marked a recovery period of sorts for Fogerty. In addition, he was extensively exploring the back roads of the American South in search of the roots of his beloved blues and country music. He returned repeatedly to the Mississippi delta grave sites of some of the legendary blues men. It was there that he felt a musical resurrection. Furthermore, through the help of his wife, he was able to release years of anger over his lost music rights. He began recording the music for his album, Blue Moon Swamp (1997). The album represents five years' worth of labor; it is a combination of rock and country pop rooted in Fogerty's blues and country influences. One song, "Joy of My Life," is about his wife, the first standard "love song" that Fogerty has ever recorded. Blue Moon Swamp became an immediate success and won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Album of the Year. Instrumentally Fogerty padded his strong vocals and tasteful guitar work with some adept dobro styling. The dobro is an acoustic guitarlike instrument that rests across the lap of its player, who uses a smooth glass or metal bar to create a sliding quality in the notes. The dobro's sound is most often associated with old blues or traditional country music, and Fogerty's only other recording experience with the dobro was twenty-five years earlier on " Looking Out My Backdoor."

Another breakthrough for Fogerty was the release of Premonition (1998), a live album that was long awaited by his fans. Although his live performances are highly revered, there had never before been any legitimately released recordings of Fogerty in concert. Premonition contains eighteen songs, many of which are from the CCR days, marking the end of Fogerty's reluctance to perform any songs from that period. In 1997, Fogerty earned a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Songwriters. In the same year, the Orville Gibson Lifetime Achievement Awards honored him as an instrumentalist. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1998. In 2002 Fogerty was enjoying this resurgence in his career by touring moderately and working on his next solo album with Dream Works Records.

While not always comfortable with the role, Fogerty is blessed with an ability to write and perform songs that are not just hits, but standards. With his personal life in order and legal troubles off his mind, Fogerty appears poised to return as the classic American singer/songwriter.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

John Fogerty (Asylum, 1975); Centerfield (Warner Bros., 1985); Eye of the Zombie (Warner Bros.,1986); Blue Moon Swamp (Warner Bros., 1997); Premonition (Reprise, 1998).

donald lowe

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Fogerty, John

John Fogerty

Singer, songwriter, guitarist

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

John Fogerty is a great American songwriter, with the clean-cut narrative gifts of [rock pioneer] Chuck Berry, the honesty of [country star] Hank Williams and the rave-up musical skills of a perfesser in a Saturday night juke joint, declared Jay Cocks of Time. Perhaps best known as the driving force behind what Jim Miller of Newsweek labeled the best American rock band of its era, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Fogerty, with his writing, lead guitar, and vocals, led the group to prominence during the late 1960s and early 1970s. With the other members of Creedence, he is responsible for rock classics such as Proud Mary, Bad Moon Rising, and Wholl Stop the Rain. After Creedence disbanded in 1972, Fogertys first attempt at making a solo career for himself was only moderately successful. In the mid-1970s he became embroiled in legal battles with Fantasy, Creedences record label, and an accounting firm that had allegedly mishandled his funds; embittered, he dropped out of the music scene for approximately nine years. In 1985, however, Fogerty resurfaced with a new album, Centerfield in addition to the smash title-track paean to baseball, it includes the hits The Old Man down the Road and Rock and Roll Girls.

The multitalented Fogerty began his musical career while still in junior high in El Cerrito, California. He got together with fellow students Stu Cook and Doug Clifford to form a group called the Blue Velvets. They were later joined by Fogertys older brother Tom and performed in the San Francisco Bay area. The young men also made a few recordings on small local labels such as Kristy and Orchestra, but these efforts did not sell. In 1964, however, the Blue Velvets landed a contract with Fantasy Records in nearby Berkeley. A year later, the group had changed its name to the Golliwogs, but they were still unable to make a hit record. Fantasy lost interest in them, but when Saul Zaentz bought the label, he encouraged the Golliwogs to come back, though he suggested the group find itself a better name. Thus, in 1968, Creedence Clearwater Revival was born.

Creedences first hit single was a 1968 revision of a song by Dale Hawkins, with John Fogerty singing the lead Suzie-Q. After that, the band primarily kept to recording Fogertys original compositions. In 1969 Creedence had several chart hits, including Proud Mary, Bad Moon Rising, Lodi, Green River, and Commotion. They followed these up with 1970s Wholl Stop the Rain, Looking Out My Back Door, and Run through the Jungle, which Cocks credited as one of the first songs about Viet Nam that sounded as if [it] could have been sung by the soldiers as well as peace marchers. In 1971, however, tensions arising from John Fogertys artistic domination of the group led Tom Fogerty to leave it. Though John Fogerty subsequently

For the Record

Born May 28, 1945, in Berkeley, Calif.; married, wifes name Martha (three children).

Played with the Blue Velvets beginningin 1959, name changed to the Golliwogs, c. 1965, and then Creedence Clearwater Revival, 196872; solo artist, 1972-c. 1976; dropped out of music business, c. 19761985; solo recording artist and concert performer, 1985.

Addresses: Residence El Cerrito, Calif. Otherc/o P.O. Box 9245, Berkeley, CA 94709.

shared the songwriting tasks with the remaining members, and completed a successful European tour with them, Creedence finally broke up in 1972.

When John Fogerty became a solo artist, he released the country-flavored Blue Ridge Rangers in 1973. Through the use of overdubbing different tracks during the recording process, he played all of the instruments and sang all of the vocals himself. Fogertys efforts were rewarded with borderline hit status for the albums single Hearts of Stone. He released a few more albums, but none enjoyed the popularity of his work with Creedence.

Fogerty stopped recording in the mid-1970s, however, when legal disputes with Fantasy and his accounting firm began to take up much of his time. There was an anvil over my head, Fogerty told Cocks. Writing, the music, my understanding of arrange and produce were gone. But he planned to make a comeback when the legal battles were over, and he continued to practice daily. I knew that if I kept working on the music, not getting somebody else to play bass or anything for me, that if I somehow understood the music again the way I did in the beginning, when it was so personal, when I did it with my own two hands, I knew that somehow each of the motions would help release me, Fogerty explained to Cocks.

Finally, in the early 1980s, Fogerty began to write songs again. He composed what would become Centerfield in roughly five and a half monthsand took the results to Warner Brothers Records. According to Cocks, Fogerty asked Lenny Waronker, the president of the company, How does a 39-year-old has-been rock singer get you to listen to his records? Waronker was more than agreeable to listening and was impressed by Fogertys materialCenterfield was on its way.

Most critics raved about the 1985 release, on which Fogerty again played all the instruments himself; most of them also noted its relationship to the swampy-sounding Creedence repertoire. Fogertys new music [is] like rediscovering a long-lost friend, Miller observed, and Kurt Loder of Rolling Stone proclaimed it a near-seamless extension of the Creedence sound and a record thats likely to convert a whole new generation of true believers. Centerfield rose quickly on the album charts, hitting the Top 10 in only three weeks. The Old Man down the Road, the first single from the album, sounds like nothing else on the radio, applauded Cocks, a swampy, spooky piece of back-country funk about a mojo man who becomes a figure of mystery, and of death. Another hit, Rock and Roll Girls, was praised by Loder as a rather spectacular demonstration of what can still be done with three shitty chords and a blatzing sax. Of course, the albums title song, in which Fogerty uses his love of baseball as a metaphor for his joy in making music, has become not only a hit record but a standard anthem played in baseball stadiums across the United States. Other interesting cuts from Centerfield include Big Train, a tribute to the old rockabilly sound of Sun Records, and Zanz Kant Danz, which, Loder speculates, may be an attack on the former head of Fantasy Records, Saul Zaentz.

Though Loder complained that some of Centerfields material is dated, Cocks argued that Fogertys music seems timelesstorn out of some imaginary territory in rocks persistent past. Miller concluded that Fogertys sensibility has an enduring popular appeal, and hailed him as the once and future poet laureate of the pop single.

Selected discography

With Creedence Clearwater Revival; on Fantasy Records

Creedence Clearwater Revival (includes Suzie-Q), 1968.

Bayou Country (includes Proud Mary and Born on the Bayou), 1969.

Green River (includes Green River, Bad Moon Rising, Lodi, Commotion, and Wrote a Song for Everyone), 1969.

Willy and the Poor Boys (includes Down on the Corner and Fortunate Son), 1969.

Cosmos Factory (includes Travelin Band, Wholl Stop the Rain, Up around the Bend, Run through the Jungle, Looking Out My Back Door, and Long As I Can See the Light), 1970.

Pendulum (includes Have You Ever Seen the Rain? and Hey, Tonight), 1970.

Mardi Gras (includes Sweet Hitchhiker and Someday Never Comes), 1972.

Solo LPs

Blue Ridge Rangers (includes Hearts of Stone), Fantasy, 1973.

Centerfield (includes Centerfield, The Old Man down the Road, Rock and Roll Girls, Searchlight, I Saw It on TV, Big Train, Mr. Greed, I Cant Help Myself, and Zanz Kant Danz), Warner Brothers, 1985. Eye of the Zombie, Warner Brothers, c. 1986.

Also recorded John Fogerty and Hoodoo with Asylum Records in the early 1970s.

Sources

Newsweek, February 18, 1985.

Rolling Stone, January 31, 1985; March 14, 1985.

Time, January 28, 1985.

Elizabeth Thomas

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