When Doug “Cosmo” Clifford and Stu Cook launched Creedence Clearwater Revisited, they had a five year plan.
That was 20 years ago.
“We may as well have written ‘five year plan’ and nothing else on a piece of paper. We didn’t know if it would last one year or five years. We decided we’d see how it goes,” Clifford said.
Great, is how it’s going.
It works because they make the time to make it work. They’ve been doing 75 shows a year for about 15 years and have 61 shows on the books this year.
“It’s a kick every night. We get to goof off and we get paid for it. Who wouldn’t want to go to work if you had our jobs?” Cook said.
Playin’ In a Travelin’ Band
Creedence Clearwater Revisited plays rock anthems you’ve known since you were a kid, and really, aren’t we all kids?
The band is a couple original Creedence members, Cook and Clifford (bass and drums respectively), from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted group, some new blood and a singer who sounds almost as much like John Fogerty as Fogerty does.
Fogerty sued them and they settled.
“Now I have duct tape on my rear-view mirror. I’m not looking back,” Clifford said.
They launched Creedence Clearwater Revisited in 1995 as a favor to a promoter buddy of theirs and because they thought it would be fun. It is.
“We got talked into it but didn’t know how it would go over,” Cook said.
Great, is how it went over.
“We’ve picked up the younger generation. We have more young fans than older fans,” Clifford said.
The question they get the most is, “Dude, you got a CD?”
Yes, they do. They released “Recollection,” 22 songs to which you are required to sing along. It went Platinum, which was also fun.
“We play 21 songs (in concert), and they’re all hits,” Clifford said. “We’re serious about the music but we don’t take ourselves seriously, and that’s the perfect combination.”
Creedence was clean
Back in the day, the Creedence crew was living in El Cerrito, the working-class side of the San Francisco Bay area, trying to make it as a full-time band.
“We were starving,” Clifford said.
They went to a show at the Filmore featuring the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service. Tickets cost $3 each and they had to save their money.
The show was an eye opener. The bands were all in some obvious state of drug euphoria and pretty much sucked, Clifford said.
“We made a pact right there on the floor of the Filmore. We stood in a circle and vowed we would not get high on stage,” Clifford said. “If we couldn’t get high on the music, we’d stop doing it. If anyone in the band wanted to do that, they did it at home.”
Some laughed at them, telling them they’d never make it playing that stuff. But they did.
“We were the Boy Scouts of rock ‘n’ roll. We didn’t get high, we were square, we weren’t cool,” Clifford said.
But they had an incredible work ethic to go with all that talent. They also had this theory that if they weren’t on the record charts, people would forget about them.
The band would rehearse several hours every day, then Clifford and the others would go home and practice some more.
“You go to the office and come home and you have two or three hours on homework,” he said. “We had to keep working that hard because we needed to stay on the charts.”
Creedence was one of rock’s most prolific bands, turning out three albums in 1969.
They were in their early 20s in 1970 when they were No. 1 in the world in record sales, outselling the Beatles. Their album “Cosmos Factor” produced six singles, including the first huge hit, “Suzy Q.” On the flip side of “Born on the Bayou” was “Proud Mary.”
The band broke up in 1972, and they went their separate ways, except Cook and Clifford went the same way. They’ve been friends for 55 years.
Clifford has been with his wife for 52 years. They’ve been married 46.
“I have grandchildren now. As our interests change and grow, we want to have a little more time to spend on those things,” Clifford said.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth because it’s easier than putting a band together.
“Right now we have the least dysfunctional family we’ve had in 20 years,” Clifford said. “We enjoy everyone we have on board and that takes a lot of pressure off.”
John Tristao is the singer. Kurt Griffey is their third lead guitarist. He recorded and toured with members of the Eagles, Foreigner, the Moody Blues, Wings, Lynyrd Skynryd, Santana and Journey.
“He also doesn’t think he’s a rock star, so he’s pretty easy to live with,” Clifford said.
Steve Gunner was a friend of a friend and plays just about anything that makes music.
“Gun provides live all the overdubs that were on the records,” Clifford said. “He plays keyboard, acoustic guitar, percussion, harmonica and sings the high harmonies.”
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.