John Fogerty (credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
The Bay Area is well known for producing some of the biggest names in music history. From classic rock bands like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Santana and Journey to more contemporary bands like Green Day, Train and Third Eye Blind, the list of Bay Area-based bands is quite extensive. Some performers, all with Bay Area ties, have further distinguished themselves among the music elite by writing some of the most famous songs of all time. Here are five of the best singer-songwriters in the Bay Area, and all have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
He currently calls Beverly Hills home but John Fogerty was born in Berkeley and helped found Creedence Clearwater Revival in neighboring El Cerrito. As the lead singer and principal songwriter of the band, Fogerty penned nearly every hit single from one of the most popular American bands of the late ’60s to ’70s. Among his greatest songs are “Bad Moon Rising,” “Green River,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” and possibly his most famous composition, “Proud Mary.” He continues a career as a successful solo artist, writing such favorites as “Rockin’ All Over the World,” “The Old Man Down the Road” and “Centerfield.” Considered one of America’s greatest singer-songwriters, John Fogerty was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005 and Credence Clearwater Revival was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
As a singer-songwriter of one of the most popular rock bands in history, Stevie Nicks was responsible for many of Fleetwood Mac‘s greatest hits. Although Fleetwood Mac has been a highly regarded blues rock band since 1967, it wasn’t until 1975 that the band enjoyed worldwide success. The “Rumors” album propelled Fleetwood Mac into the realm of the world’s greatest rock bands. The Grammy Award winner for Album of the Year, “Rumors” is one the best-selling albums in music history and featured the band’s only No. 1 hit written by Nicks, “Dreams,” in addition to another timeless classic, “Gold Dust Woman.” With Fleetwood Mac and as a solo artist, Nicks has also written “Edge of Seventeen,” “Gypsy,” “Landslide,” “Leather and Lace,” “Sara” and “Stand Back.” A resident of Menlo Park and alumna of San Jose State University, Stevie Nicks was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with members of Fleetwood Mac, in 1998.
Most of Carlos Santana’s most popular compositions were co-written, but one of Rolling Stone‘s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” deserves to be included in this select group. Raised in San Francisco’s Mission District, Carlos Santana founded the Latin-rock fusion band Santana in the late 1960s, reaching international fame after their appearance at Woodstock. The winner of 10 Grammy Awards and a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Santana has sold more than 100 million records and wrote or co-wrote many of his band’s most famous songs, including “Everybody’s Everything,” “Let the Children Play” and the Grammy Award-winning “Maria Maria.” Today, Santana remains a very successful performer and owns a collection of Maria Maria restaurants, with two locations in the East Bay.
As a member of the Grateful Dead, Bay Area product Bob Weir sang and wrote or co-wrote many of the band’s most memorable songs. Among his best are “One More Saturday Night,” “Sugar Magnolia” and “Truckin'” recognized as a national treasure by the U.S. Library of Congress. Like all other artists listed here, Weir is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, inducted with the Grateful Dead. Although the Grateful Dead broke up after the death of Jerry Garcia in 1995, Bob Weir continues to perform as a founding member of Furthur and RatDog. He is a longtime resident of the North Bay community of Mill Valley.
One of the most prolific singer-songwriters in music history, Neil Young has lived in the Bay Area for decades. A two-time member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it should only be a matter of time until he’s inducted a third time as a member of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The Canadian-born singer-songwriter first hit the big time in 1966 as a co-founder of Buffalo Springfield with Stephens Stills. Since then, Young has written or co-written many of rock music’s most memorable songs, such as “Cinnamon Girl,” “Cowgirl in the Sand,” “Heart of Gold,” “Mr. Soul,” “Ohio,” “Rockin’ in the Free World” and “Southern Man.” Neil Young and his wife Pegi have hosted the annual charity concert Bridge School Benefit for more than 25 years. Among rock royalty who have appeared at the concert benefitting The Bridge School at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View are Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Simon and Garfunkel, Chris Martin, Foo Fighters and The Who.
Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.