Parker/Fogerty History

I recently found on Facebook the William A. Wilson Intermediate school site.  It is now an adult ed school so I was surprised to find it.  I joined because I taught there 1970-75.  Some ex-students are asking about what happened to me and in particular if I once played with the Creedence Clearwater Revival band so I thought that this family website would be a good avenue to explain my history with the group.  The paragraphs below along with some pictures should clear up my connection with the group in the past.

I attended El Cerrito high school 1957-1960.  El Cerrito is a city north of Berkeley,Ca. with Albany in between.  I was always involved in music and was in choirs all years in kindergarden, jr. high, & high school.  I was a singer mostly and played around with the ukulele, upright bass, & guitar.  In the summer of 1957, my best friend, Ron Fenolio, who lived across the street brought over a vinyl record and played it for me to listen to.  The musician was a fellow named Joe “Fingers” Carr.  Ron and I were starting high school as sophomores at that time and when I heard this record I immediately said, “I have to learn to play the piano”.  I got the record and in a few weeks was playing the “12th Street rag”.  Hearing Joe “Fingers” Carr play was such an inspiration to me.  He also played boogie woogie on the record and it was not long that I was playing boogie woogie also.

I would play in the choir room at lunch for whoever wanted to listen.  Anyhow, Gail Skinner sang in the choir and her boyfriend from Saint Mary’s high school in Albany was Tom Fogerty.  She was a friend of mine and introduced me to Tom.

1958 EDHS Acappella Choir - Gail Skinner (middle) George Parker (upper right)

1957-58 EDHS Acappella Choir (partial) – Gail Skinner (middle) George Parker (upper right)

Tom and I soon became friends and he and his younger brother John came up to my house after school a few times and we would jam.  They played at school assemblies and I got to join them a couple of times playing the piano.  When Tom graduated from Saint Mary’s in 1959 he got a job at Regal gas station in Berkeley.  He continued to date Gail and they eventually got married and had a family.

Young Gail and Tom now married

Young Gail and Tom now married celebrating CCR’s first album (on lap) in 1968

He was well liked by Al Peterson the manager there at the gas station so he basically got John and myself jobs there also.  In the fall of 1963 I went to San Jose State University and did not see them much but I stayed somewhat connected because Tom would go up and visit my mom who would relay to me what they were doing.  TomFogerty1964SSShe was quite musical and had written many songs.  Tom had a close connection with her because she had tried to make it in music also for many years but with very little success but Tom was young and very passionate about his ability to make it big.  She, of course, was very supportive of his passion and energy.  In 1968, a couple of years after I graduated from San Jose State, they hit it big on “Susie Q”.  It was on their first CCR album (above).  I visited them once at there little home in El Cerrito and they showed me there gold or platinum record on the wall.

I started teaching at William A. Wilson intermediate school in the fall of 1970.  I was still playing the piano daily and got the idea to teach a summer school class on how to form and keep together a garage band.  On Easter of 1971, I went up to Tom’s huge home in Grizzly Peak (Berkeley Hills) and talked to him about coming down to be a guest lecturer for the class.  He was not at all interested in coming down to the school.  It made me angry so when I left it was not in the best of terms.  He did not tell me at the time but I since found out that he had been disgruntled with his position in CCR and had actually left the group a few months earlier.  Tom was a great guy and was really the impetus that pushed the group to stardom.  Countless times he said to me “George, we are going to make it big and you should come and sit in with us”  I’ve always felt bad that I never knew the truth of what he was going through in March of 1971 and I never saw any of them again after that.  He was interviewed when he branched out and he can be seen on youtube.  I must say as a musician, that, though Tom was the pushing force at the beginning, John had a very special talent with the guitar.  I had played with many different guitarists but I could see that John was in a class all of his own even at the young age when I had the opportunity to play with him.  Anyhow, I had a close personal connection with Tom Fogerty and enjoyed a temporary but close musical connection with a young John.  And the three of us enjoyed a part-time working relationship at the gas station also.  I never knew the other two guys in the group:  Stu Cook (bassist) and Doug Clifford (drummer) (both in the class of 1964).  I was a good friend of George Clifford, Doug’s brother, who was in my class (1960).  John was in the class of 1963.JohnFogertyCommEntertainECHS1963SSJohnFogertySeniorPic1963ECHSSSAs I said, Tom was married to Gail Skinner but I lost track of them both.  In 1980, I heard that Tom was getting married again but I have no idea what happened to Gail.  I do know that they had children.  Some years ago, I was taking to a mutual high school friend, Skip Kelly, and he said that Tom’s wife had a freak accident at their home pool and was paralyzed.  I could never find out the truth of his statement and he has since died.  I have been searching the internet regarding Gail but have never found anything about her.

Tom had a back problem and had many surgeries.  He moved to Arizona and received many transfusions during back surgeries and contracted AIDS from one of the blood transfusions.  He died from AIDS in 1990 at the age of 48.  If any of you are interested in hearing the full story of CCR by John, Stu, & Doug you can click on this link:  http://www.uncut.co.uk/features/creedence-clearwater-revival-the-full-story-by-john-fogerty-stu-cook-and-doug-clifford-6563

Many people have asked me if I ever regretted not being a part of CCR.  First off, they had such a wonderful and simple sound without a piano and I don’t think that my talent on the piano would have fit into their scheme of things.  And secondly, I have had such a wonderful 33 years of teaching teenage kids.  My last 23 years were at Ponderosa High School in Shingle Springs, Ca.  I had an fantastic electronic shop where I taught high school, ROP, & some college students electronic technology.  The students were great there and I enjoyed teaching until the last minute of the last day that I retired in 2003.  Even though my mom said that I came out of the womb singing, and certainly God has given me and my mother an unbelievable ear for music, I am so satisfied about the direction that I was taken for a career and would not change a thing.  I have had the opportunity to be a part of students’ life decisions and have watched many become successful.  I would not trade that for any amount of fame or money.

I did have students, teachers, & administrators in bands every year.  We would play as many as 3 to 10 gigs a year for assemblies in our school, other schools, Apple Hill events, Rotary, Elks, secretary nights, etc.  But our biggest gig was 2 years in a row at the Tahoe Hyatt Regency in there main ballroom for the statewide administrators conference.  We were not that good but we had a great deal of fun with the large audiences.  It was a 2-day event and though they really liked us, I think it became too costly for them because they would put us and the families up at the hotel.  We had roadies (some of my students) because I built a sound studio in the corner of my shop and taught sound recording techniques the last 10-15 years of my stint.  It was a great way to train them in a real live performance and we the musicians got the benefit of them setting up and running the sound for all of our gigs.  It was such a great time for all of us.

Now that I have retired from teaching I spend many hours playing the piano and have a make-shift sound studio in one of our bedrooms here at our home in Apple Hill.  I play wherever some one wants me (currently retirement complexes) and have made CD’s that I give to friends and family.  You can hear some of my songs by looking through past blogs on this site.  I have some pretty sophisticated recording programs and sound generators that I use.  My system is MAC operating.  As of 7 years ago I go to a jazz camp every year where I am put into a band and we are taught by the greatest professionals and then do a performance at the end of the week.  You can see what I am talking about with pictures and videos of these outstanding professional musicians performing.  They are in past blogs on this site.

Kensington Grammar School (1948-1954)

I was so fortunate to live in the Bay Area while growing up.  I went through all my pre-college schooling there and made many friends that I still keep in contact with.6th grade at Kensington-McGrawss

A few years ago at a mini class reunion lunch one of the classmates brought some grammar school pictures. I asked to scan them and she agreed. I spent many hours cleaning up the scans and have been sending them to the Kensington Grammar school classmates and others who have shown an interest. Together, via email, we have remembered many names and I have been adding them to the pictures over the years.

I finally had the time to compile the finished products of all this work and make a video. This video represents a heart-felt thanks to all or my younger (now in our seventies) friends at Kensington and to my Lord Jesus Christ.

The Bay Area was such a wonderful place to live. Thanks for watching. – George

In grade four I met Ronnie Hamstad (lower Center next to Leslie Daum now Collier – my 1st girlfriend)4th Grade Kensington- ReadingssRonnie and I were very close.  After the 6th grade I lost track of Ronnie.  His family moved but I had no idea where.   For years I thought about him and hoped that maybe we would someday reconnect.  I remember about 7  years ago that I was playing golf at a club and spotted a guy that I thought could be Ron.   I asked him what his name was but it was not him.  About 4 years ago I was checking my email and saw in my “in” box the words “George! Is this you?”  It was Ron who had found me on facebook.  We conversed by email and I found out that he lived in Redding, Ca. but was heading back to Brazil for about 6 months.  He and his wife, Christine, were missionaries there for many years earlier.   What a joy it was to hear from him.

 

RonnieGeorgieBuddies2SS

Anyhow, we lost a connection again until last year.  But, my cousins live in Redding, CA.  and play in a “Church Bell Choir” there.  They were having a bell concert in October of 2013. (I have an earlier post of them)  They invited Judy and me to come up and watch their performance.  We booked a bed and breakfast for 2 nights in Redding.

I found Ron’s phone number, called him, and we agreed to meet for lunch before our return home.  It turned out that where we were staying was less than a 1/2 mile from his home.  We showed up at their home in the late morning, knocked on their door, and Christine, who we had never met, was there with a camera to take pictures of our reuniting after 60+ years.  It was very emotional as we hugged and just looked at each other with tears of joy in our eyes.  Christine had prepared a nice lunch and we spent hours through the afternoon reminiscing and enjoying their company.  The evening was getting late so we decided to go out for dinner to a local Mexican restaurant.  Judy and I left for home that evening with smiles on our faces. What a great time that was –  God is so good!

This is a picture of 211 Arlington in Kensington .  .  . 211Arlington Ave.where I lived until I was about 8 or 9 years old.  My very closest friend at that time, George Ross, lived just around the corner on Amherst Ave.  We did everything together.  However, when my family moved to El Cerrito, CA, where I graduated from El Cerrito high school, George and I lost track of each other because he went to Berkeley high school where my dad, mom, and sister graduated.

About 30 years later I was teaching at El Dorado high school in Placerville, CA. in the late 70’s.  My teaching assignment was 5 math classes so I solicited for some TA’s to help with correcting papers.  Lo and behold, one of them was a gal named Tammy Ross.  She turned out to be George’s daughter and they lived in Coloma, CA.  We visited with George and his wife Pat a few times.  What a small world!

 

El Dorado High School Teaching/Coaching

We moved to Placerville in 1977 because I landed a teaching position at the high school.  George Teaching Buchser 76-77'1

Electronics/Buchser High 76′-77′

George 77'a

Industrial Arts/El Dorado High 77′-78′

It was a bitter/sweet year.  The school was going through a big increase in enrollment.  The students out numbered the classrooms so they had to hire more teachers and use the existing classrooms during the teachers preparation periods.  My assignment that first year was a nightmare.  I taught six different subjects in six different places.  I started out the morning with P.E., then across the road and down to the Industrial Arts building to teach Drafting, then next door to the Wood Shop, climb back up to the main building for Home Economics to teach sewing (all girls that probably knew more than me), back down to the Auto Shop, and finally next door to the metal shop.

I was a roaming teacher that was teaching in those places with the “real” teachers of those subjects who were in the room or room office eating lunches, preparing, using the phone, etc.  Most of them were very helpful with the awkward situation.  However, not knowing where to find things needed for class, the norm was me asking the host teacher where do I find:  sand paper, needles, football flags, motor oil, etc.  The worst part was that the students could see who the real authority in the class room was so I had a hard time gaining respect.  With two chiefs, the Indians tried to play the divide and conquer game.  I got through it but it was certainly a time of testing.  My good friends, Dave & Nancy Soper were a great help to me during this trying time in my life.

Dave Soper 77' (He was the Vice-Principal at EDHS)

Dave Soper 77′ (He was the Vice-Principal at EDHS)

Nancy Soper was the French teacher at Ponderosa High School 86'

Nancy Soper was the French teacher at Ponderosa High School 86′

After the school day I immediately ran to the gym to coach the freshman basketball team.  I had successfully coached football, basketball, and water polo in Santa Clara for seven years prior but learning a new system was another challenge.

Buchser Varsity Water Polo 75-76'

Buchser Varsity Water Polo 75-76′

Buchser Water Polo 75-76'1

Buchser JV Water Polo

Buchser JV Water Polo

We had bought a nice home in Apple Hill on a six month swing loan because our home in San Jose was waiting to be sold.  It was thought that it would sell within a couple of months, however, it did not sell for a year.  This created much tension in our lives also.  On top of this my mother who lived in Auburn, was fighting cancer in her body.  So I would spend a weekend in San Jose dealing with trying to sell that home and a weekend in Auburn visiting my parents and mom in particular.  She succumbed to the dreadful disease in January of 1978.

So the bitter part of this teaching year was losing my mother, pressure of finances involving our homes, and the very difficult teaching assignment at the high school.  There were many sweets.  Most important was throwing in the towel and giving my heart to the Lord Jesus Christ in April of 1978.  Living here and getting to know so many wonderful people in the Placerville area has been such a blessing.  I have learned so much from so many.

Me, Terry, Reed Briggs (Reed & I were hired to coach Basketball but the look on Terry's face tells me that we were talking Water Polo-lol

Me, Terry, Reid Briggs (Reid & I were hired to coach Basketball but the look on Terry’s face tells me that we were talking Water Polo-lol)

The gifted head coach at El Dorado High then, Terry Battenberg (click on his name to see what he is doing now), taught me so much about the game of basketball.  I used these skills both with the freshman team at the high school and helping the church team in adult leagues.  I have had so many “good times” with my colleagues in education and the El Dorado high school basketball coaches and teams were certainly no exception.

Terry at desk in math room

Terry at desk in math room

Varsity B-Ball Team 77' (Phil Oats [L] & Terry Battenberg [R])

Varsity B-Ball Team 77′ (Phil Oats [L] & Terry Battenberg [R])

Team Roster

Team Roster

J.V. 77' -Coach Phil Oats

J.V. 77′ -Coach Phil Oats

Team Roster

Team Roster

Frosh B-Ball 77'-Coach George Parker

Frosh B-Ball 77′-Coach George Parker

Team Roster

Team Roster

One of those good times was getting the opportunity to write and sing some songs at our awards dinner at the end of the season.  Terry and Barbara Battenberg recently had a barbeque at there home for those of us that had coached with him over the years.  It was a wonderful time for all of us and I had planned to play and sing those same songs but time did not allow it.  So I decided to record and post them here on our family site.  I need to preface this with part of Terry’s dictionary of basketball terms:

Peedeeweester –     a basketball player who is frail in spirit and used to losing (not Cougars)

Pee-down-the-leg –     the presumed action(s) of the above during a game

Burger experience-    the action of a player choosing to quit the team so he/she can work at a local fast-food establishment

Working on a left/right hand –  a coaching term about learning to dribble with the off hand.  However, we used it when we saw a player walking around school holding hands with his girlfriend.  In other words, being a wuss (softy).  What we would say when someone didn’t show up to Open Gym was, “Where is Boo?”  “Oh, he’s working  on his left hand with his girl friend”  Kinda like below.

Tim "Boo" Weir - working on his right arm move

Tim “Boo” Weir – working on his right arm move

 

Eighty (80 Loves /coined by Tom Young) – the action of many or much
ie:    a player kissing his girl friend  = 80 Loves
a team moping around after a loss = 80 Cries

Supercockalotus–    the team with the most losses in a tournament

Anyhow, there are many more but you’ll have to buy the Battenberg book of basketball terms and player names to get the rest.  Incidentally, Terry gave me the name “T-Bone” and after many years some older Cougar colleagues still call me by that name.

The two songs that I sang at the 1977 awards banquet were “Nothin’ from Nothin’’” and
Burger Experience Blues  I hope you enjoy listening to them as much as I did reliving this precious and fun time as I re-did and recorded them.

Two "Offtones" songs

The Offtones had such a great time over the years at the El Dorado Union HS District.  I’ve been having fun this last week recording two of the songs that we use to sing.  They are “Rockin’ Robin” and “Little Darlin”.  Rockin’ Robin was probably the first song that we ever did and it was great because we could involve a lot of people.  Terry Beavers, a good friend of all of us, sang the lead.  Sadly, he passed away some years ago.  This was the arrangement that I came up with.  We could always find someone to do the tweets and sometimes we would bring up someone out of the audience.  I had Judy help me with the tweets on this recording of “Rockin’ Robin

The other song that was a main stay for the group was Little Darlin’.  I did all of the voicing on this recording, however, it was much better with other people.  The speaking part on this song was originally done by my good friend Dave Soper, who was the reason that we formed the group back in 1978.  He was the vice principal at the high school and asked me if we could get a group together to sing at one of the assemblies.  Cary Steed, a teacher at the school who sang with us, appropriately named us the “Offtones” and that name stuck with us throughout the many years that we performed.   Anyhow, this was the original arrangement that we used anytime we sang “Little Darlin’”  I hope you enjoy my renditions of these two great old songs.

 

Sixteen Candles

At my retirement dinner in 2003, our son Vince did a slide presentation of Judy.  During his presentation I played and sang “Sixteen Candles”.  The other day I was singing the song and really listening to the words.  When I first saw Judy in the 7th grade these words describe exactly what  I felt about her at that young age.   I guess I am just a hopeless romantic but these last few days have been a fun adventure that I wanted to share with others.

Judy [Watkins] Parker and I have been married for 46 years now.  My initial spotting of her was on our first day at the Junior High School.  She and I came from different elementary schools and when I saw Judy walk into our social studies classroom on that first day of class I literally gasped!  She was the most beautiful girl that I had ever seen.

JudyYoung

I felt, however, that she was way out of my league so I never gave a thought to getting to know her.  I simply watched her for years with much admiration.  During my 3 years in high school her best friend Jo Ann Wallin now Tilton (she was her “maid of honor” and is next to her in some of the pictures on the youtube video below) was in choir with me.  Though Jo Ann and I had been friends for years I never really knew or talked to her close friend Judy.  Around the middle of our senior year Jo Ann put into my ear that Judy was interested in going out on a date with me.  The shock created apprehension and I procrastinated.  In my eyes, she was not only the most beautiful girl in the school but she was very active and a good student also.  Judy was into so many clubs, sororities, pom-pom girl, academic awards, relay queen attendant, etc. and I saw myself as just a “choir music” guy.

Judy1960

Relay Queen picture

Through continual prodding by Jo Ann, I finally got up the courage to ask her out to our first senior activity – The Senior Banquet.  Five years later we were married and we have never looked back.

JudyGeorgeProm1960

Senior banquet at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, Ca. (our 1st date)

Screen shot 2017-09-25 at 10.22.02 PM

The words in the song “Sixteen Candles” have brought back the feelings and emotions that Judy has stirred up in my life then and over the years.  This, my newest recording, is a dedication to my wonderful wife and a thankfulness to God for giving me a lover/friend way beyond anyone that I ever imagined.  I hope that you will enjoy the recording along with the pictures selected that continue to remind me of how blessed I am.  To see the movie just click on this blue youtube Video.

Once in Awhile

While I was an instructor at the local High School I was asked by my close friend, Dave Soper, to form a band to sing at one of the assemblies.  A bunch of us closet musicians and anyone else that was interested, students, teachers, staff, and administrators got together and formed a band.  We decided on doo-wop songs since they were simple and easy to learn.  After hearing how we sounded, one of the instructors in the group, Carey Steed, named us the Offtones.  It fit us well because we accomplished more having fun than we did perfecting a good sound.  Because we took it lightly and understood our true goal of enjoyment we were accepted very well by the student body.  As time went on, the Offtones played for assemblies, retirement and other school related parties, outside benefits, administrative conferences, and anywhere else that we were asked to play.  Here is a youtube of us at a local ice cream parlor, Sundae Times in Placerville, CA. [su_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ns_C9M3bp04″%5D  The year was 1988 and the proceeds went to the El Dorado High School for band uniforms.  The group was together for over twenty years with a yearly change of players depending on who was still available and where we performed.  At many performances, my wife, Judy, operated the sound mixer.

One of the songs that we did was an arrangement of “Once in Awhile” which was originally performed in the doo-wop era by The Chimes-I think in 1960.  I have such found memories of our Offtone years and as a result have added this song to my piano playing.  I have uploaded both versions below so you can hear them if you desire to.

This first audio recording was at one of our practices at the school about 10 or more years ago.  The singer is Diann Phillis who was an administrative secretary, and the saxophone solo is Todd Winn who was a student at Ponderosa high school that year.  Click to listen: Once in Awhile – “The Offtones”

The second is my latest version.  Again, the beginning and the end of the song are chord patterns taken from a George Shearing song book.  His sound is different than any others as you will hear-he was blind and so creative.  In the middle of the recording is my typical rendition and sound.

The Great George Shearing

Click to listen:Once in Awhile