By Tricia Witkower
Lifelong friends and former bandmates, Doug Clifford and Stu Cook, formed Creedence Clearwater Revisited in 1995 as a way to reunite and continue to play the songs they loved. Unsure of how this new iteration of Creedence Clearwater Revival would go over and never intending to go fully public, the duo eventually put together a full band and became hugely popular, playing as many as 190 shows a year at one point. Twenty-five years later, you can still hear them play your favorite songs, whether it’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” “Proud Mary,” “Born on the Bayou,” “Fortunate Son,” “Down on the Corner,” or…well, you get the idea. Fans can see them play at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino on Friday, March 22 at 8 pm.
CVW: It’s the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. You played there, can you tell me about your experience?
DC: “We were the first major act to say yes to performing at Woodstock. Had we not, there may not have been one. All the big acts were sitting on the sidelines waiting for a big act to say yes. We were number one at that time. We became co-conspirators to the massive crowd that showed up. It was pretty bizarre, a total logistical nightmare. We had to fly from LA to get ther, so we took the last leg we could to be there to play this gig. When we got there they said we had to take a private plane to a smaller airport since all roads were jammed. We entered via helicopter, which was very unsafe. Half my ass was on the seat on the right and I was holding onto a safety belt around John Fogerty and had to hold the door or it would have been flapping and banging. The sun was going down when we arrived and we looked and saw this huge crowd. We had played a lot of festivals but when we saw this crowd we said, ‘Wow, there’s at least half a million people.” Stu Cook said it wasn’t about the bands that were there it was about the people. Our experience was much different than the people attending. I play sober, for one. The rainy weather made it cold and wet and there wasn’t enough water and food. People shared with complete strangers what little they had and decided to have a good time. It’ll never happen again. The 25th anniversary, they had everything in abundance but they charged too much so they rioted and had to shut the stage down. There was no violence, people just had fun and you could feel the energy. Peace love and music was what it was all about, and it was all of that and more.”
CVW: You and Stu grew up together in Northern California – do you have any funny stories about growing up?
DC: “At the time it wasn’t a very funny story, but I have one. We were playing up in the California Delta area, we were popular up there. So we’re playing in a bar near Lodi and there were only 8-9 people in the bar: all farmers, all drunk, all assholes. Every set, the guys would say, ‘Turn it down!’ Toward the end, we were almost an acoustic act. We played our four hours and then went to get paid and they said they wouldn’t pay us because we were too loud. We argued with them and the guys in the bar got up and said, ‘You’d better leave now while you can walk.’ We managed to get out of there and ended up writing Oh Lord, Stuck In Lodi Again. We’re lucky we didn’t get our butts kicked and at least we got a song out of it.”
CVW: What is the meaning of your band name?
DC: “Credence means truth and honesty and that’s what we were doing with our music. We weren’t doing psychedelic stuff – that wasn’t what we did or what we liked. People laughed at us and called us Boy Scouts of rock ‘n roll. The word Clearwater we got from an Olympia Beer commercial and we were all into ecology and trying to look out for the planet. Revival was a revival of us. We had this manager who made us wear these ridiculously embarrassing uniforms. We fired him.”
CVW Tell me about these uniforms.
DC: “They were patchwork quilt pants, white shirts with red paisley, green suede vests, and white Cossack hats. It was horrible! I had a stiff neck because I was playing with my head down all night. It was supposed to be what a hippie would wear. It was just stupid.”
CVW: You’ve played here before. Every venue has a different vibe, so what do you like about coming out to the desert to perform?
DC: “It’s always fun. It’s a place people go to get away from winter, so they’re suntanned and in an upbeat mood, ready for some rock ‘n roll. I have some friends there, so I’m looking forward to it.”
CVW: What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
DC: “Don’t sign anything without a good lawyer! The other part is to be true to you. Sometimes you might have to play some things you don’t like but if you’re able to make some money playing in a band you’re doing better than most. If you want to make a career and write your own songs, stick with what you do. Don’t listen to what other people tell you.”
CVW: For most musicians, being in an internationally successful band for fifty years and playing with your lifelong friend would be a dream. Do you ever feel lucky this is what you’ve been able to do?
DC: “I feel lucky all the time. I don’t take it for granted; it’s an honor and a privilege to have fans all over the world who love what you do. We love what we do, so it couldn’t be a better scenario. I’m fortunate. We really are fortunate sons, I suppose.”
Buy your tickets to see Creedence Clearwater Revisited at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino on Friday, March 22 at 8 pm: https://www.fantasyspringsresort.com/entertainment/