INTERVIEW: Reflecting with Creedence Clearwater Revisited

Original Creedence bassist Stu Cook talks memories of Woodstock and playing hard hitting rock n’ roll

Photo by Jeff Dow
Photo by Jeff Dow

Ive been doing this since I was thirteen years old. Ive 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. Ive 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 dont always agree on everything but thats the process of a friendship. Its 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. Im a better musician now but Im just a pick and shovel bass player. Im 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 Im happy. Its 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 Youand Suzie Qfound some success on the charts, the band got their first chunk of cash. I think I bought a new car. It wasnt 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 its a great story, its a great film.Although Cook and Doug Clifford deeply regret the bands absence from the original Woodstock film, the band is included on the original soundtrack album. With the 50th anniversary of Creedence coming up and Woodstocks 50th, Im 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 Grahams 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 didnt 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. Its hard hitting rock and roll. Swamp rock, southern rock, northern rock, this rock, that rockif its rock and roll, people connect with it biologically. Everybody can feel it.
Creedence Clearwater Revisited is set to play swamp-rockinfavourites at the Hard Rock Casino in Coquitlam, Friday, August 11th.