by Paul Cashmere
Saul Zaentz, producer of One Flew Over The Cookoo’s Nest and one-time owner of Fantasy Records, has died at the age of 92.
Zaentz started his career in the music business in 1955 at Fantasy Records which was the largest independent jazz label in America. Zaentz purchased the company in 1967 and one of the first signings with Saul as the new boss was Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Zaentz not only owned Fantasy, he also owned everything Creedence Clearwater Revival recorded as well as the songs that John Fogerty wrote under the band’s original contract with the label.
The bad deal by Creedence Clearwater Revival would cost the band 10's of millions of dollars in royalties, all of which went to Zaentz instead. When Fogerty released his solo records away from Zaentz, Zaentz sued him for plagiarizing claiming that John Fogerty the solo artist sounded too similar to John Fogerty the CCR singer. Zaentz went for $140 million in damages from Fogerty. He lost.
Fogerty sued for costs and won. He then wrote and released the songs Zanz Can’t Dance and Mr. Greed about his former label boss.
Zaentz then sued Fogerty for defamation over the lyrics to Zanz Can’t Dance ("Zanz can’t dance but he’ll steal your money"). Zaentz also tried to claim damages for Fogerty’s hit song Old Man Down The Road claiming that it sounded too similar to his Creedence Clearwater Revival song Run Through The Jungle.
The defamation case was settled when Fogerty changed the title of Zanz Can’t Dance to Vanz Can’t Dance. Zaenz lost the Old Man Down The Road case.