By Rob LeDonne
In July 1968, Creedence Clearwater Revival released its first album and instantly became an indelible part of the American music landscape. Since its first hit, “Susie Q,” the band has released a flurry of iconic songs that are still popular to this day. As a result of its continued popularity, Creedence Clearwater Revisited (a revival band that features some original members) still rocks out across the country to this day and, on June 19, the band brings its act to the San Diego County Fair.
Stu Cook, the bassist for the original Creedence band and the new act, says that San Diego is “possibly one of the top places in California. This is our fifth or sixth time back in Del Mar, and we keep coming back because I like the venue in particular. Their lighting, sound, and stage is top notch. It’s also always great to see so many thousands of fans.”
Cook, along with the rest of the band, hails from the San Francisco Bay Area, although you wouldn’t know it from Creedence’s music, which sounds like a product of the American south.
“We got tagged early on with the name ‘swamp rock,’” said Cook, speaking via telephone from his current home in Florida. “Unfortunately, there aren’t many swamps up in Northern California. I think the reason why our music has had such great legs is that they’re just great songs — simple, direct, and fairly unadorned. I’ll always know that every Friday and Saturday some band in America is playing one of our songs.”
Creedence’s extensive smash hit discography is an impressive feat, considering many bands from the 1960s petered out after one or two hits. For Creedence, songs such as “Down on the Corner,” “Proud Mary,” “Born on the Bayou,” “Fortunate Son,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” and “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” have made a mark on popular music so distinct that they’re played just as much today as they were 40 years ago.
“Out of all of the songs we’ve released, ‘Down on the Corner’ was the one I least expected to take off because it has such a calypso, Latin feel,” Cook says of Creedence’s eclectic catalog. “We have a rock and roll side, a country side, a blues side, and a Caribbean side. It’s not straight-ahead rock and roll. It’s several different genres of music combining.”
As popular as Creedence was (so far the band has sold 26 million albums, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, and is included in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the greatest artists of all time), the band initially found success difficult to come by.
“We started out when we were young, and we finally took off after nine and a half years,” Cook said. “Until somebody took notice, there were a lot of disappointments and false starts. An overnight success is rarely such, and persistence is probably the most important talent you can have in show business. Talent alone won’t bring you success.”
Fortunately, Creedence band members had an equal share of talent and persistence — both of which were rooted in their sheer passion for performing.
“I still like playing all of our tracks,” Cook says. “That’s the whole idea behind the Revisited project.”
Besides Cook, the Revisited band includes original drummer Doug “Cosmo” Clifford (former Creedence singer John Fogerty has long toured as a solo artist). Cook and Clifford launched the Revisited act in 1995 on a lark in order to only play private parties. However, due to an immense amount of interest from both new and old fans, the band started touring and now books about 100 dates a year. The Revisited band even released a two-disc live album in 1998 dubbed “Recollections,” and Cook couldn’t be happier to still be rocking out night after night.
“I’m used to the idea of going out on the stage and having a good time,” he said. “Performing is about getting your head in the right place, and that place is ‘let’s go have some fun.’ When we leave the dressing room and head to the stage, we’re ready to go.”
Creedence Clearwater Revisited will perform at the San Diego County Fair (Heineken Grandstand Stage) on Thursday, June 19, at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free with fair admission. A dinner package is available.
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