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‘Fortunate Son’ a testament to John Fogerty’s recovery

Updated March 2, 2017 - 11:17 am

In September 1969, when “Bad Moon Rising” and “Proud Mary” were becoming hits, Creedence Clearwater Revival appeared on “The Johnny Cash Show.” The hour-long ABC-TV show was stacked with a guest list that included Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins and the Statler Brothers.

Phil Harris, a hard-living actor, showman and a friend of Cash’s, was also on that show. Before taking the stage to sing “Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette,” Harris found CCR front man John Fogerty and recited the now-famous quote: “If I’d known I’d live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”

“I looked at him, and it was one of those jaw-dropping moments,” Fogerty said during an interview last week. “I was 23 years old and I’d never heard that before. But it had an effect on me, and sometimes I do think of it.”

Fogerty opens his “Fortunate Son in Concert” extended engagement at Wynn Las Vegas’ Encore Theater on Thursday night. The hit-filled show runs through March 11, returning May 19-28.

In the run-up to his return, Fogerty recalled his exchange with Harris when talking of his own recovery.

“Gosh, I was in a band that became the No. 1 band in the world, and I was pretty much directing and guiding our path … then things went very, very bad,” Fogerty says. “There was a lot of infighting in the band, and a lot of the guys were probably jealous of me getting a lot of the attention.”

Fogerty’s clashes with bandmates and the band’s label, Fantasy Records, led to some “serious financial consequences,” costing him millions of dollars. The strife took its toll as CCR fractured in the early ’70s.

“Over time I drifted into alcoholism and bad behavior, and a sense of powerlessness,” Fogerty says. “This isn’t a ploy for self-pity, but I have absolute truth about that part of my life.”

During his 1986 “Eye of the Zombie Tour,” which the rocker jokingly calls the “I Am a Zombie” tour, Fogerty met his now-wife Julie Kramer.

“I was not really a happy person, I was doing what alcoholics do, which is mess everything up so you can feel sorry for yourself,” the 71-year-old Fogerty says. “Then I met someone who I knew I wanted to be with the rest of my life. I trust her with any part of my career.”

When Fogerty rocks the room, he does it with a smile.

“I’m really thankful, and I’ve found, the older I get, the more I say, ‘Maybe there was some divine guidance, John, and you should be a little more humble,’ ” he says. “There really is some truth to that.”

‘THEY ARE AMAZED’

Lijana Wallenda is making a rapid, and remarkable, recovery from injuries she suffered Feb. 8 after a fall from a 30-foot high wire while rehearsing Circus Sarasota in Florida. Wallenda, the high-wire coach of “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace, was a member of an eight-member pyramid, which included her brother Nik Wallenda and former “Absinthe’ and “Zumanity” artist Andrew Adams.

Wallenda was the most seriously injured in the incident, suffering a lacerated liver and fractures to her arm, leg and face. She is still unable to speak easily, as her jaw is wired shut after her most recent surgery. But via texts on Tuesday, Wallenda said she was released from the hospital Feb. 17 and is recuperating at her parents’ home in Sarasota.

“They are amazed at how fast I am recovering,” Wallenda wrote, and expressed how thankful she was that neither she nor her fellow artists were more seriously injured.

Wallenda said doctors are saying she might need two more months of rehabilitation before she can return to work, but she is already recovering faster than anticipated. For those who know Wallenda, her fortitude is not surprising.

HEADLINING AT 95

Comedy legend Marty Allen, an entertainer for nearly 80 years and a member of the famed Allen & Rossi comedy team, has booked a show at South Point Showroom at 7 p.m. March 23 to celebrate his 95th birthday.

Last year, Allen filled the 1,000-seat ballroom at Rampart Casino for a similar birthday performance, during which he told some jokes and rolled out classic video clips with his wife, Karon Kate Blackwell, emceeing and singing a few tunes. Allen, along with Steve Rossi, was featured on The Beatles’ first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in February 1964 and the duo was a popular act on the Strip for a decade ending in 1968. The act reunited for a four-year run at Vegas World (where Stratosphere now stands) from 1990-’94.

And if you ever see Allen in public, check out his cane. It’s a regulation Louisville Slugger.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section, and Fridays in Neon. He also hosts “Kats! On The Radio” Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on KUNV 91.5-FM and appears Wednesdays at 11 a.m. with Dayna Roselli on KTNV Channel 13. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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