Could you imagine a modern-day band releasing three studio albums in ten months and seeing each of them later be certified at least platinum? That was the incredible pace that Creedence Clearwater Revival were setting at the end of the 1960s. Late in 1969, they completed the sequence, and saw out the decade, as they released their fourth album Willy and the Poor Boys, released on November 2, 1969.
Listen to Willy and the Poor Boys right now.
Produced by lead singer and writer John Fogerty, this was the record that featured such CCR classics as “Down On The Corner,” “Fortunate Son” and the band’s versions of Leadbelly’s “Cotton Fields” and the traditional, much-covered “Midnight Special.” Indeed, “Down On The Corner” contained the lyric that gave the album its title (“down on the corner, out in the street, Willy and the Poor Boys are playin’/Bring a nickel, tap your feet”).
This was also, effectively, two great bands for the price of one. The album featured additional instrumentation by Booker T. Jones and the rest of the MGs, Steve Cropper, Donald “Duck” Dunn and Al Jackson. It was a measure of CCR’s pre-eminence by 1969 that it was something of a disappointment that the album “only” reached No.3 in the US, staying there for no fewer than six weeks, and “only” went double platinum. Its predecessor a few months earlier, Green River, had four weeks at No.1 and went triple platinum in the US.
As Willy and the Poor Boys started its journey, charting on December 13, “Down On The Corner” was released as a US single with “Fortunate Son” listed as its double A-side. As often for Creedence, both sides were hits, “Corner” reaching No.3 and “Son” No.14. The album itself was a big international success, too, going to the top of the French chart and, the following spring, becoming the band’s first UK Top 10 album, at No.10.