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Creedence Revisited rooted in classics

Band to play greatest hits at two Chinook Winds concerts


by: COURTESY OF JEFF DOW - Creedence Clearwater Revival, the newer CCR, keeps playing the great hits of the 1970s. They are (left to right): Kurt Griffey, John Tristao (the singer), Stu Cook, Doug Cosmo Clifford (the drummer) and Steve Gunner. Theyll play Chinook Winds Casino & Resort, Feb. 28 and March 1.In the late 1960s and early ‘70s, Creedence Clearwater Revival was among the hottest bands in the world. During a four-plus year period, the Northern California rock ‘n’ roll band delivered 20 top-40 hits and sold 26 million albums in the United States.

No Creedence tune ever reached No. 1 on the charts, but five topped out at No. 2 — “Looking Out My Back Door,” “Traveling Band,” “Proud Mary,” “Green River” and “Bad Moon Rising.” Only Elvis Presley and Madonna (six apiece) had more No. 2’s. CCR did have a No. 1 album — Cosmo’s Factory in 1970 — and six platinum albums.

The band broke up in 1972, the result of friction between lead singer/guitarist John Fogerty and the other three members — brother Tom Fogerty, Doug “Cosmo” Clifford and Stu Cook.

Such was the discord between the factions that when the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, John Fogerty wouldn’t allow Clifford and Cook to play with him, instead bringing on stage an all-star band that featured Bruce Springsteen and Robbie Robertson. (Tom Fogerty, who left the band in early 1971, died in 1990 of AIDS, having contracted HIV from tainted blood transfusions related to back surgery. He was 48. CCR finished as a trio.)

In 1995, Clifford (the drummer) and Cook (bass guitarist) put together a new band called Creedence Clearwater Revisited. The group has been wildly successful, entering its 20th year together playing the old CCR hits during as many as 100 dates a year worldwide. The other members are John Tristao (lead vocals, guitar) Kurt Griffey (lead guitar) and Steve Gunner (guitar, keyboards).

Creedence Clearwater Revisited will be at Chinook Winds Casino & Resort in Lincoln City Feb. 28 and March 1 for a pair of 8 p.m. shows (chinookwindscasino.com). Clifford, who turns 69 in April, engaged in a question-and-answer session via phone from his Scottsdale, Ariz., winter home:

Tribune: Can you believe it’s been 47 years since Creedence began its act?

Clifford: I can because I know. I’ve lived it. But it is a wonderment nonetheless.

Tribune: At 68, you’re still playing music. Why?

Clifford: I love to do it, plain and simple. I get a rush from it. I’m an adrenaline junkie. In that sense, I feel bad for athletes, whose careers are over so young. The closest thing I would compare it to athletically is the Champions Tour in golf. The key is staying in shape, staying active and having the desire. I have all of that.

Tribune: How many dates did you do in 2013, and how many will you do this year?

Clifford: Between 70 and 75 each year. When we first started, we were over 100. I was gone more than I was home. I didn’t want to be away that much ... We love what we do, and we care very much about the quality of it. That’s why we’re in the 20th year of doing this. You don’t stick around if it’s not polished.

Tribune: How good is your current band?

Clifford: Spectacular. It’s a great bunch of guys. We’ve been together a long time now. It’s a really nice gig. Every song we play is a hit. It’s fun

music.

Tribune: You've played Lincoln City before.

Clifford: Yes, a few times, but it's been awhile. The fans have been great up there. We really enjoy it. I love being on the ocean, and it's two days. We get to spend the night, get up in the morning, drink a cup of coffee, take a walk on the beach and play the same venue the next night. That's living large.

Tribune: What kind of reaction are you getting from crowds?

Clifford: It’s been great. Our proudest accomplishment is the test of time. We have more young fans than older fans these days. We have teenagers through the 50s and up, but the majority is a younger set.

Tribune: What was it like

being a member of one of the world’s hottest bands in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s?

Clifford: It was a treadmill. We were putting out so much product, it was hard to keep up with it. We put on tours in between studio recordings. We were very busy.

Tribune: You had a pact with the other members — no drugs or alcohol. Did it stick?

Clifford: It stuck 100 percent. That included daily rehearsals, and we jammed and worked on songs every day. When we went into a studio, there was no screwing around. We’d go in and knock out an album in two weeks. And remember, we were located in the Bay Area, where everything went on. Guys were dropping acid and going out and playing music. Our peers called us the “Boy Scouts of Rock ‘N’ Roll.”

Tribune: You had an amazingly large body of work in a short period of time. The pace must have been frenetic.

Clifford: We should have spread it out. We should have had someone who was not only a professional manager but a mentor to help us work out the internal problems in the band. John didn’t even know what the contracts were, what they meant. He let the good ones go by the wayside and wouldn’t let his brother do anything but play rhythm guitar. It was awful, because Tom always treated us with respect. We owed that guy. He was three years older and had a wife and two kids. He quit everything to go full-time in music. He had everything to lose; we had nothing to lose. Without Tom Fogerty, I wouldn’t be talking with you right now.

Tribune: Does the memory of Tom linger with you?

Clifford: It always will. A great guy met a tragic end. He was a really great heart who was put through a lot for no reason. Ego helped implode the band. John is one of the most talented artists of all time, but to micromanage everyone, it ended up ruining the band.

Tribune: As a single artist, John Fogerty never played Creedence songs until after you formed your band and began to bring out the old tunes again.

Clifford: It was stupid. Why wouldn’t he play these songs? He’s the guy who wrote them. He should have never disassociated himself from the songs. Maybe you disassociate yourself with the record company, but to not play those songs for all those years ... he sat around, smoldering. If we hadn’t done it, he might not have. By us doing it, he had to do it.

Tribune: Are you bitter about not being allowed onstage for your induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993?

Clifford: I’m not now. Creedence Clearwater Revival went into that hall, not John Fogerty and the rhythm section he had that night. And they did it without telling us. We found out practically the moment we were supposed to get our award. It was a cold and stupid thing to do. It shows you what kind of a person he is. He still carries grudges. I’ll always respect his talent, but not the things he did to the other members of the band, and to other people close to him. It’s not something I think about anymore. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it planted the seeds for Creedence Clearwater Revisited. It ended up being a very positive thing for us.

Tribune: When was the last time you spoke to John?

Clifford: Quite a few years ago, we spoke in court when he sued us. We passed each other, and I said, “Hi,” somewhat sarcastically. There’s really no reason to talk to him. I love the band I’m in now. He has inferred several times in recent years he would consider a reunion, but I wouldn’t. It would have been great 20 years ago. Now it’s too little, too late. The money would be enormous, but life is way too short for that. I look forward to going out with my boys and laying it down and going to the next place.

Tribune: Does John Tristao’s voice sound like John Fogerty’s?

Clifford: He’s a high tenor, and he has the growl. We told him, “We don’t want you to imitate those records; we want you to put your own spin.” Johnny’s got that attitude. He loves to ride his Harley. He treats these songs with care and respect. He’s the perfect fit.

Tribune: How will you decide your playlist for the two shows at Chinook Winds?

Clifford: It's pretty easy. We'll play the songs we've been playing for the last 20 years. We do a little switching here and there, and there will be at least one addition, but what do you switch a hit record out with? Our fans want to hear the hits. We play 20 songs, and they're all hits.

Tribune: How much longer would you like to tour?

Clifford: As long as we can still do it the way it's supposed to be done. I'm an athlete. I work out every day. I have 10 percent body fat. I have a 68-year-old bladder and prostate, but they've been behaving. Adrenaline takes over. It kicks in when we start the first tune, or even when we are walking out on stage. When I don't get that rush, then it's time to spend more time with the grandkids and work on that golf game I've been neglecting.

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