NORWICH, Conn. -- With so many hit songs, Creedence Clearwater Revival has become part of the fabric of America. Yet not many people know the band played at one of the biggest musical events in history — one that has become the symbolic schism between the establishment and the individual: Woodstock.
Ed. note: With breakout at end.
With so many hit songs, Creedence Clearwater Revival has become part of the fabric of America. Yet not many people know the band played at one of the biggest musical events in history — one that has become the symbolic schism between the establishment and the individual: Woodstock.
“The conditions were horrible. It was raining, mud, no food, no comfort, but everyone got along,” said Stu Cook, the original bass player for the band who now is playing with the reconstituted band, Creedence Clearwater Revisited.
Unfortunately, the purported love and peace of Woodstock hasn’t lasted.
Because Creedence wasn’t paid upfront, John Fogerty, Creedence’s lead singer and icon, “cut his nose off to spite his face,” Cook said. Fogerty refused to sign off on the Woodstock album or movie.
“It wasn’t my decision, it was John Fogerty’s decision, and quite frankly, it was a bad one,” said Cook in a recent telephone interview, at ease with the acrimony that has been well-publicized between Fogerty and the other band members.
The band and Fogerty split 35 years ago, and Cook and drummer Doug Clifford started up Creedence Clearwater Revisited in 1995, initially planning to only play at parties. The band now performs up to a 100 shows a year and has released an album, “Recollection.”
“This band was created to play Creedence Clearwater Revival; people know they will hear all Creedence, all night,” Cook said.
Creedence Clearwater Revisited is headed up now by John Tristao as the lead singer/rhythm guitarist. Former Cars guitarist Elliot Easton is also in the band with Steve Gunner.
Fans of Creedence say the band couldn’t have made a better choice with Tristao.
“The current lead singer has an excellent voice that very clearly matches John Fogerty’s. He has a guttural, southern rock kind of voice -- it’s kind of gravely like John Fogerty,” said Steven Curland of Norwich.
The band works, agreed his brother Daniel Curland, owner of Mystic Disc, because its foundation has always been its rhythm section.
“Fogerty had a great voice,” Curland said, “but what made the band great was the drums and the bass — they drove that band hard. That’s why they can go out and do this without John Fogerty and make it a good band.”
“We found a niche for our band,” Cook said. It’s a sort of Creedence craving that is fulfilled — beyond the glaring lights of the stage, Cook said he can see happiness on the faces of the fans.
“They’ve come expecting something, and we’re connecting — they’re happy about it and so are we,” Cook said. “There’s an unspoken conduit of emotion and communication between a musician and the audience when you’re really doing it. It feels good.”
Three generations of fans can be seen at the concerts, said Cook, who seemed to take some amusement in the young ones “out there raising hell in the front.”
Today’s scene for young musicians is very different from when Cook was coming up (he played Woodstock at age 24).
“It was a different time. It’s before greed had taken over the industry,” Cook said. “You could still get heard without a million dollars behind you. The music was more important than how you danced — that’s not how it is anymore.”
If people want to take a backstage peek at the early years of Creedence, they might want to watch the movie “Almost Famous.”
A rumor says the movie portrays the band, and Cook, quite smoothly, doesn’t do much to deflect it as myth.
“I’ve seen the movie, and I’d say, yeah, a lot of little things in the movie were recognizable to me when we were climbing up the ladder. I don’t know if the writer intentionally based it on Creedence, but for me it felt very Creedency — it resonated with me,” he said.
The struggle for fame has long slipped by for Cook and Cosmo; yet the energetic drive that gave them the meteoric rise to rock and roll legend hasn’t faded.
“We can find 70 different venues a year that are willing to put on our show for the local audience, and that’s what our task is today — to keep going to those places, to try to do better; always do better,” Cook said.
“It’s going to be a big show. We’re going to rock the free world.”
Norwich (Conn.) Bulletin
Reach Sharma Howard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Creedence Clearwater Revival (Revisited)
Classic members: John Fogerty, Doug Clifford, Tom Fogerty, Stu Cook.
Hit songs: “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” “Down on the Corner,” “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?,” “Born on the Bayou,” “Proud Mary.”
Discography: “Creedence Clearwater Revival,” “Bayou Country,” “Green River,” “Willy and the Poor Boys,” “Cosmo’s Factory,” “Pendulum,” “Mardi Gras.”