Original Creedence bassist Stu Cook talks memories of Woodstock and playing hard hitting rock n’ roll
“I’ve been doing this since I was thirteen years old. I’ve certainly paid my dues…and my lawyers,” says Stu Cook as Creedence Clearwater Revisited are gearing up for a round of shows in the Pacific Northwest. “Canada is great. I’ve been going to Canada for almost as long as I am old,” said Cook, laughing. “My family used to drive up to Vancouver and the Island on vacation. Long car drives but we had a good time up there.”
After six full decades, Cook still enjoys his craft. He confirmed that his longtime rhythm section partner Doug Clifford is also in good spirits and is playing better than ever with the impeccably arranged Creedence Clearwater Revisited. “We don’t always agree on everything but that’s the process of a friendship. It’s a give and take. If you approach it correctly and handle it wisely, you can make it last sixty years.” Nowadays, Cook enjoys traveling all over the world, scuba diving, golfing and spending time with his growing family. Somehow he finds time to tour; Creedence Clearwater Revisited has brought their impeccable, original musical arrangements all over the world. The iconic, Americana-drenched swamp rockers will be performing at the Hard Rock Casino in Coquitlam on August 11th and at the Cannafest in Grand Forks, BC. “Music is like a thread, you just keep following it along,” says Cook. “I’m a better musician now but I’m just a pick and shovel bass player. I’m never going to be the stand out but I know my role in a rock and roll band and as long as I pull that off I’m happy. It’s still our pleasure to serve it up to the fans.”
Along with Doug Clifford, John and Tom Fogerty formed what would eventually be named Creedence Clearwater Revival. “Our roots are in Americana music, rhythm, and blues, some country, some folk…but mostly black music was what we gravitated toward.” Fifty years ago, Cook was going to university and heading out to play in San Francisco on the weekends. He fondly remembers watching groups like the Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service. Laughing, Stu recalled the times when the band was broke: “the cheapest thing [to] do was rehearse all day.” When “I Put A Spell On You” and “Suzie Q” found some success on the charts, the band got their first chunk of cash. “I think I bought a new car. It wasn’t a whole big chunk of cash, believe me. We were still renting at various locations. Nobody could afford to buy a house. The pressure was off but we could go out to dinner and things like that.”
When Bayou Country hit the airwaves in 1969, Creedence Clearwater Revival started a winning streak producing multiple hit albums a year. Stu, Doug, Tom and John were right on the sidelines of when the band played the now historic Woodstock Festival in upstate New York in 1969. “Nobody knew at the time that that was going to happen but it turned out great and it’s a great story, it’s a great film.” Although Cook and Doug Clifford deeply regret the band’s absence from the original Woodstock film, the band is included on the original soundtrack album. “With the 50th anniversary of Creedence coming up and Woodstock’s 50th, I’m sure that there will be more stuff available. Interestingly enough, people think about music when they think about Woodstock but the real story is the audience.” At the festival, Cook recalls being well taken care of by Bill Graham’s organization, who were also looking out for Santana. “We hung out backstage with friends from the Bay Area. It was a long day, for sure, we were supposed to play at 10 pm [that] night and we didn’t get on until 1 am on Sunday, but it all worked out.”
A half century later, the legacy built by John, Tom, Doug and Stu still speaks volumes to new generations. “It’s hard hitting rock and roll. Swamp rock, southern rock, northern rock, this rock, that rock… if it’s rock and roll, people connect with it biologically. Everybody can feel it.”
Creedence Clearwater Revisited is set to play swamp-rockin’ favourites at the Hard Rock Casino in Coquitlam, Friday, August 11th.