Creedence Clearwater Revival founding members and Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Doug “Cosmo” Clifford and Stu Cook have been on quite a ride. Following their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cosmo and Stu launched their Creedence Clearwater Revisited project in 1995 to once again perform live in concert the hit songs — touchstones of a generation. Since then, the legendary rhythm section has been thrilled by the outpouring of affection for their new band. World tours and a platinum selling album “Recollection” followed. After all these years of touring and connecting with fans across the world, Clifford is looking forward to much deserved time with his family, but not before one more run with their CCR reboot’s “Final Revival Tour“.
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Sean Ritchie: Let’s kick it off with your hometown of [El Cerrito]. Where is it in relation to the rest of the Greater San Francisco Bay Area?
Doug Clifford: It’s a little bedroom community in the East Bay of San Francisco. There wasn’t much going on there. The one thing, though, was Creedence Clearwater Revival was formed there. However, it wasn’t called that at the time. We were a little instrumental trio. John [Fogerty], Stu [Cook] and I started the band when we were in the eighth grade, then Tom [Fogerty] came in to mentor us in search of a career in music.
It’s sort of in between Richmond, primarily a blue-collar black city, and Berkeley, which was completely the opposite of that. I had the University of California, Berkeley, a very liberal university. And, there we were in the middle in little El Cerrito.
© Victoriano Izquierdo
SR: What was your first real exposure to music? How did you get inspired to create your own and pursue it as a career?
DC: My mother. She got married pretty early, so the career went away. One or two times we found the radio live and she enjoyed that. We shared that together. I first heard rock and roll when I was nine-years-old. I bought my first record, which was a 78 vinyl record. It was a very brittle record by Etta James. Not bad for nine. I was just captivated by the rhythms played on the tom-tom [drums].
READ MORE: Travel Profile: Stu Cook of Creedence Clearwater Revisited
SR: To fast forward a bit, but keeping it in the earlier days of CCR when you guys were releasing hit-after-hit, was it the chemistry between the band that allowed you to do that?
DC: We had three albums in 1969 alone – unheard of. John had a theory that if you’re ever off the charts you’ll be forgotten. That’s what accounted for the short time off between releases. We were always recording music, and the only ones doing it at that speed. We also all learned to play our instruments together growing up, which added to our [abilities]. We were pretty busy boys in ’69.
SR: Just going non-stop. Incredible. Looking back at the ride, what’s the most impactful part you cherish about the CCR journey?
DC: The toughest test for a pop medium is the test of time. We have done that. We are still being exposed to, what I call them, “single digiters” – seven, eight and nine-year-olds. Their parents and grandparents were listening to Creedence. Part of the reason for the longevity is we kept the music simple, we called it roots American. No one else was producing it at that time.
SR: I can understand that. I’m closing in on 30 and Creedence was played in our house and cars growing up. It truly is amazing to see the lifespan of the music continue.
DC: It’s pretty amazing. We have more young fans than older fans now. I’m 74, so not a spring chicken. It’s definitely passed the age test.
SR: Fascinating. Now, you’re in the midst of the “Final Revival Tour,” I particularly like that name, what are you most look forward to for the rest of the tour?
DC: We’re looking forward to connecting with the fans and playing all these songs one last time. It’s time though. We’ve been doing this for 50 years. I’ve missed a lot of family birthdays and celebrations. I’m looking forward to spending quality family time with my grandkids. We still have some time though, this tour will extend into next year.
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SR: Can definitely understand that. You’ve been able to travel to countless places over the years. What’s one that particularly left a lasting impression on you?
DC: I would have to say Australia – incredible animal life there. The marsupials are fascinating, kangaroos and wallabies too. They can get aggressive though, so watch out and have caution. It’s a wonderful and different countryside.
© Denise Jans
SR: What effect does traveling have on humans? How has it broadened your perspective of the world?
DC: One of the best things about travel is it exposes you to people and the realization of similarities. If more people would figure out the needs and wants in life, as human beings, we would have less differences and be more accepting. It’s pretty basic stuff. Not understanding that is kind of mankind’s demise. If you really just simplify things and look at what people need and want, it really is pretty basic. We’re all pretty much the same. We have the same needs. Travel helps uncover that.
SR: One of the thing that particularly interests me about music is the crowd can speak a completely different language than band on stage and still have an amazing time enjoying the music. Music is so powerful in that way.
DC: It brings people together, putting the differences aside. That’s what it has meant culturally overtime. It has been used to unite. It’s a great communicator. In fact, drums particularly were the first instrument. They were meant for code. They were hollowed logs with animal skins on them that had different tones. They had a rhythmic language.
© Bady QB
SR: I know you said you’re looking to spend time at home, but to wrap it up are there any places, or even one place, that you would still like to see?
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DC: Hong Kong, but I’d like things to calm down a bit over there before I go. There’s a bit of tension between that region of the world and us. That is one place I would love to see though.
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