Rolling with Creedence Clearwater Revisited
By Naughty Mickie
Almost everyone I know can name at least one Creedence Clearwater Revival tune. The band had broken up and reformed as Creedence Clearwater Revisited. They have been on tour constantly, releasing a live album, "Recollection" (Hip-O/Universal Records) in 1998, which went platinum. The current CCR includes original members, bassist Stu Cook, and drummer Doug "Cosmo" Clifford, along with lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist John Tristao, lead guitarist Tal Morris and Steve Gunner on keyboards, acoustic guitar, harmonica, percussion and vocals.
I had an opportunity to speak with Stu Cook to learn why CCR is his passion, beginning with his reasons for reforming the band.
"Doug and I just wanted to play together again," Cook says. "Once we crossed those ten bridges then we had to find out what would be the best music for us to play and obviously what we helped to make famous was the best to play. We set about to find guys who could play it and enjoy it."
There have been many tales about the origin of the name Creedence Clearwater Revival, so I asked Cook to clear up the mystery.
"It came from Creedence, who was a friend, the Clearwater had some 1960s connections to the environment and the Revival was about our own personal revival." Cook clarifies, "We were reforming, regathering our energy to try it again. We had been trying it in a variety of ways and a variety of different levels and in order for us to achieve success at this time we stopped everything else we were doing and go for it full time. So the revival really spoke to the internal vision to come together and really go for it."
Why change the name from Revival to Revisited?
"We're revisiting, we're going to try and honor; we're going to try and celebrate all that was before. Because that well over a generation's music was related and there's a lot of fans out there who never had the experience," Cook responds. "For me it's great to see how the music has really gone across the age groups, generations, and to see really young people - in their pre-teens - in the audience, along with their parents, as well as their aunts and uncles and even grandparents. It's a pretty good collection of fans."
Cook then shares some of his personal history with me, "Both of my parents were musicians. They worked professionally at different times in their lives. My dad was a trumpet player, my mom was a piano and organist. Trumpet was my first instrument then I switched to piano, then guitar, then bass guitar."
"Why did you stay with the bass?" I ask.
"That was the instrument we needed."  Cook laughs, "It was like, `You're the bass player.' OK. I figured what the heck, I get paid just as much as everybody else and I only have to play one note at a time. So who's complaining?
"We started playing together when we were 13 years old in 1959, John Fogerty, Doug Clifford and myself. And we were just a little instrumental trio which went through junior high school and high school," Cook goes on.
"I went to college at San Jose State and have a degree in business administration industrial management. I graduated in '67, but we played on weekends throughout the four years I was in college. Then after I graduated we all decided to go full time, so we stopped everything else and that was when we decided we were really going to focus ourselves on trying to break through."
"I never had a job in my life," Cook says. "Well, I've worked summer jobs that my dad would give me helping him with some of his clients that would hire kids during the summer."
Cook worked factory and warehouse jobs, in construction and drove a delivery van for a pharmacy, as well as stocked its shelves. None of these were long term, just summer jobs during the years he was in school.
"But since I've graduated from college, I've been a musician." Cook tells me, "What a dream it's been, it's an amazing story both good and bad. It's been a very mangled journey. But it's great music. John wrote great songs for the band, he had a real hot streak, and the band with the help of radio, which really took to us, was able to get the word out. We have fans all over the world, multi-generation fan base all over the world. Right now what 'Cos' and I are doing is taking our project, Revisited, is taking it around the world and celebrating it with the fans, celebrating that great legacy."
Cook lives in Lake Tahoe and spends his free time flying his Cessna 185, mountain biking, golfing, hiking and boating.
Despite the success of "Recollection" - or perhaps because of it - I wondered if CCR is working on any new material.
"Nah, we don't have any interest in recording new material," Cook states. "This is a Creedence project and we don't to dilute with stuff outside. The plan was to play Creedence for the fans, it was a performance project for us. `Recollection' is a live album so we thought that doesn't stretch it too much. We really had no intention of recording that from the beginning, it all came about from requests from the fans."
But all of the band member write on their own.
"Since we're not actively involved in pursuing careers as writers or as solo artists and we're not writing anything new for Revisited'," Cook says, adding that he writes rock, blues and country tunes.
I prod Cook as to where CCR fits in today's music scene.
"We fit in because everything has to come from somewhere," Cook replies. "So we're the roots of what's going on, they're the branches on the tree. All of it's in the trunk, then there's branches and it seems that the tree is in extremely full bloom right now because there's such a variety of all styles and they get mixed together which becomes even more interesting."
And what about the Web?
"Internet music sales are up, obviously. The music buying public wants to access their music via the Internet and I don't know how that directly affects the legacy bands," Cook says. "Also, the Internet is full of so many nonsense opinions- everybody's a critic,
everybody's an expert, so the way I see it, is it's just a way to wage open warfare.
"I think that sometimes fans become fanatics and they get themselves involved in artists' lives vicariously, then they have opinions about things that are none of their business." Cook continues,  "I think that the distribution of music by the Internet is terrific. I think in the future it's going to go up and up and up. I'm not quite sure how it's going to affect catalog sales of the legacy acts. We have greatest hits albums, why would anybody want to buy one or two cuts? That's why you have a collection of all the hits."
CCR has toured the world and will be heading your way soon most likely. They love what they do and, best of all, they like each other.
"We're all friends, we all get along well. We come to play, it's rock and roll playing these songs, rockin' out every night with a great live audience. It's inspirational and it prevents aging. The hardest part of this whole project is travel." Cook explains, "It's hard to get around here and there. Sometimes you have to get up early, sometimes there's missed connections at airports or your baggage gets lost. Since 9/11 travel have been a pain anyhow, an extra pain. There's a lot of obstacles to get to that stage, but once we get there we make it worth it."
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