At a time when most American rhythm guitar players were using utilitarian Fender Telecasters or Stratocasters, John Fogerty chose a black Gibson Les Paul, pictured at left, as his signature instrument in Creedence Clearwater Revival.
The Les Paul, a solidly built, notoriously heavy block of wood with extremely sensitive pickups, had been seen on these shores in the late '60s primarily in the hands of British blues soloists such as Peter Green, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck.
Nobody used that model of guitar for the sort of straight-ahead rockabilly-drenched rhythm work Fogerty had in mind.
"My first guitar was a Silvertone, plus amp, that I bought for $80 at Sears with money from my paper route," Fogerty recalled. "My mom co-signed for it. Then, in high school, I met a girl who had a Supro guitar and amp. They were popular in the '40s during the Hawaiian music craze, but because there was so much competition from Fender in the '60s, the company folded. I'm still a huge fan of Supro guitars and amps."
Fogerty says that just before Creedence began to take off in '68, the members decided they needed more "upscale" equipment, "so we got Rickenbacker guitars … and we sounded like the Byrds playing Creedence.
Fogerty then tried a "big jazz box," as he calls the semi-acoustic Gibson he chose next, "but somebody put a brick through my car window and stole it while I was parked at Fantasy Records in Oakland."
That led him to the Berkeley music store where he tried a Les Paul for the first time … and fell instantly in love.
"I'd heard these British guys using Les Pauls for lead, and it had this beautiful, fat tone," Fogerty said. "When I played it for the first time that day and started playing open E and G chords, it was like the Red Sea had parted. I knew that was it."