Classic band’s rhythm section revisits the hits Carry on, Creedence

By John Benson

In a recent Marc Maron podcast, the comedian and Queens of the Stone Age singer Josh Homme talked about how great Creedence Clearwater Revival’s material sounds, on vinyl no less, so fresh and immediate more than 40 years after it was first released.

Such appreciation for the Bay Area act known for its flannel, backwoods-influenced and blue-collar sound — that resulted in a five-year run with six platinum albums and 12 top 40 hits — is ubiquitous. Classic rock radio still plays “Proud Mary,” “Down on the Corner,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” and “Born on the Bayou,” while new generations continue to discover the magic of singer-guitarist John Fogerty, bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford.

Unfortunately, the threesome hasn’t played together since breaking up in the early ’70s. The band’s infighting is infamous; Fogerty remains a solo act, refusing to get back together with his former bandmates, while the rhythm section today tours under the Creedence Clearwater Revisited moniker, adding lead singer-rhythm guitarist John Tristao, lead guitarist Kurt Griffey and multi-instrumentalist Steve Gunner. The latter act returns to Youngstown on Thursday for a show at Stambaugh Auditorium.

The Vindicator talked to Cook about the lasting power of Creedence Clearwater Revival, the lack of new material from his current act and the possibility of a reunion.

Q. First of all, do you have any memories of playing in Youngstown?

A. When I was in a band called Southern Pacific we played in an old theater there and we opened for The Runaways. That was after my Creedence years, and I thought this is a strange turn of events; I’m in a country rock band and we’re opening for an all-girls punk band.

Q. It’s been nearly 20 years since the formation of Creedence Clearwater Revisited. Talk about the decision to create the act in 1995.

A. The material was still really fresh, and of course, back then we had a lot to prove. It was like, “How dare we?” So we still play that way. Every show could be the last, 19 years later. You never know when your number is up, so we try to get the most out of every show.

Q. Perhaps there was one person, wink-wink, who said “How dare you” while fans said “It’s about time.”

A. Well, there was more than one, but one loud voice. Everybody wants to be a critic and thinks they know more than anybody else. There are a lot of people out there with nothing to do with their time but get involved in other people’s affairs. So from the purists there was a lot of noise, but I think we convinced enough people one at a time that what we’re doing is definitely worth of a listen and a lot more.

Q. Creedence Clearwater Revisited has never released new material. Why?

A. That was never the plan. The catalog we work with is one of the best going. There’s no reason at all to confuse people by trying to broaden the catalog at this point. We want more people to come and have a Creedence experience. By adding other material, diluting the focus of this project, we don’t think that would serve anybody. So we avoided even thinking about broadening it out. There are plenty of great songs to work with, we can’t play them all in a show there are so many good ones.

Q. Finally, it’s the million-dollar question for fans: Do you think the group will ever reunite?

A. I do not. Fogerty holds a deep, deep grudge. His bitterness ruined what he could have had of a career since Creedence. I think it’s clear he put himself behind the highest wall of writer’s block of pop history with his anger against his record company and his former bandmates. It’s absolute nonsense as far as Doug and I can tell. I just don’t see it happening.

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