Stu Cook was the bassist for Creedence Clearwater Revival, whose songbook includes classics such as “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Green River,” “Down on the Corner,” “My Back Door,” “Fortunate Son,” “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” “Travelin’ Band” and “Up Around the Bend.” Creedence also did smokin’ covers of “Susie Q” and “I Heard It Through the Gravevine.” The band broke up acrimoniously in 1972, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
In 1995, Cook and Creedence Clearwater Revival drummer Doug “Cosmo” Clifford formed Creedence Clearwater Revisited, the name change reflecting the absence of singer/songwriter John Fogerty and his late brother, Tom. This band, which not coincidentally also abbreviates to CCR, plays the hits we know and love from their days with Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Creedence Clearwater Revisited will perform at the Ventura County Fair at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The show is free with paid admission into the fair, and seating is first come, first serve. Click here for more information.
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Jeff Moehlis: Creedence Clearwater Revival had a different sound from the other Bay Area bands. From your perspective, how did CCR fit in with that scene?
Stu Cook: It’s a very interesting question. Number one, we were from the East Bay and remained in the East Bay, in the San Francisco Bay Area. I briefly lived in San Francisco during that time period, but the other guys were married and had their own lives set up prior to our success. We didn’t have to come to San Francisco for the Summer of Love. We were already living in the area.
We played the same venues as most of the bands that were more central to the scene. We were probably more on the periphery because of our musical style. It was more rooted in the blues and country music, and we focused more on AM radio songs. (John) Fogerty was writing 2½-, three-minute songs, whereas the rest of San Francisco was jamming on and on for long periods of time on one song. We could do half a dozen songs in the time period they played one song (laughs).
We had a different approach. I think it served us well. We didn’t become lost in the San Francisco scene. We played the Fillmore, the Carousel Ballroom and Winterland. We were part of it, but we didn’t live in a commune, you know what I mean? It was interesting because a lot of the music came from musicians who moved to San Francisco because of the cultural dynamic that was going on. We were already there, so we had a bit of a different take on it.
JM: Could you describe your Woodstock experience?
SC: (laughs) Well, we were in L.A. on Friday, we were recording either a Dionne Warwick special or an Andy Williams special. It was a television variety show. We took the red-eye to Boston, chartered a jet to fly to Upstate New York, and it was just madness by the time we got there. You know, the gates had already come down. It was a free concert by then. We got to the Holiday Inn pretty wasted from traveling all night. The place was just a madhouse.
We got some sleep and the helicoptered us in a few hours later to the festival site. We hung out all day, mainly with the guys from Bill Graham’s organization, Barry Imhoff. He was there taking care of Carlos Santana and the Santana band. We all knew each other from the Bay Area, so we hung out at their trailer all day. We had a pretty comfortable experience backstage (laughs). Way better than the folks out front.
Then the rain started, and it started to interfere with the timing of the event, and the equipment started becoming damaged by the elements. Some of the stuff got unsafe, the lighting got unsafe. The show was running late. Pretty soon, I think it was after midnight, one o’clock, maybe later when we finally got on. We were the headliner on Saturday night. We were supposed to go on at 10 or something like that. By the time we got on, after a long set by The Grateful Dead, it was quite late. People (laughs) needed some rallying at that point. It was pitch black. All the spotlights were out, very few stage lights. We had very little direct contact with the audience because of the distance and the darkness. But we went out and I thought played a hell of a set. I just recently listened to the entire performance, and it was a great little concert that we played. I’m really happy with it. I wish we’d been included in the film, of course, but you know that’s water under the bridge as well.
JM: Can you tell us what we can look forward to at the upcoming show?
SC: Oh, man, you want me to give it all away?
JM: Give it all away!
SC: All right, here’s the deal. If you like Creedence, you’re going to love this band. We have a good time. We never take ourselves seriously, but we always take the music seriously, so you’re going to get a great show. It’s going to be all Creedence all night. So come party with us.
You know, we have over three generations of fans now. Many of them were introduced to the music the same way you were, from siblings, parents, uncles, aunts, music around the house. Both Doug and I are just amazed at how the baton has been passed from generation to generation. It really makes us feel good about that music.
— Jeff Moehlis is a Noozhawk contributing writer and a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Santa Barbara. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his web site, music-illuminati.com. The opinions expressed are his own.