The band started out, in 1959, as an instrumental trio called The Blue Velvets. The original line up was John Fogerty (guitar), Stu Cook (piano), and Doug Clifford (drums). In 1960, John's older brother Tom, who had been in local bands since 1958, began singing with the group.
The Blue Velvets released three singles in the San Francisco Bay area, during 1961 and 1962, on Oakland's Orchestra Records. These recordings received only minimal sales although the second Blue Velvets single was added to Oakland's KEWB top 40 playlist by famed disc jockey Casey Kasem, who was employed at the station.
Following the Orchestra singles, Tom began playing rhythm guitar in addition to remaining the lead vocalist and front man while John continued as the lead guitarist. Meanwhile, Stu Cookswitched from piano to bass guitar.
In the middle of 1964, the band recorded two songs for Fantasy Records, a local label based in San Francisco. The band was attracted to Fantasy because, in 1963, it had released a national hit by Vince Guaraldi, "Cast Your Fate To The Wind". Max Weiss, one of Fantasy's co-owners initially changed the group's name to The Visions, but when their songs were released as a single, in November 1964, Weiss re-named them The Golliwogs, an apparent reference to a once-popular minstrel doll called a Golliwogg. Seven singles were released in the San Francisco Bay area. While none of these broke out nationally, one, "Brown Eyed Girl," was a near break out in Miami, Fla., for four weeks beginning on February 26, 1966, when it reached #10 on Billboard's "Regional Breakout" chart for Miami (a chart one level below their Bubbling Under charts).
Eventually John Fogerty took control of the group, writing all of their material, singing lead vocals, and blossoming into a multi-instrumentalist who played bass, keyboards, and harmonica in addition to lead guitar. By 1967, he was producing the group's recordings.
In December 1967, the band changed its name to Creedence Clearwater Revival. The band's first album as Creedence Clearwater Revival was released in 1968.