Up around the bend comes the Creedence Clearwater band
People of all ages are likely to recognize hits such as “Green River,” “Proud Mary,” “Down on the Corner,” “Born on the Bayou,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” “Willie and the Poor Boys” and “Up Around the Bend.” Staples of radio, television and movie soundtracks, these “swamp rock” roots tunes were made popular by Creedence Clearwater Revival, a group that disbanded in 1972.
More than 20 years after the breakup, two original members of CCR – Stu Cook and Doug “Cosmo” Clifford – revived the group’s music to form Creedence Clearwater Revisited. Their intention was to play for private parties, but after doing a few concerts, they were persuaded to take the music on the road.
With about 75 concerts a year, the band has toured North America, South America, Central America, New Zealand, Australia, Europe and Asia.
When fans wanted a recording, the musicians put 22 CCR selections on a double CD called “Recollections.” It went platinum in 2008.
At 7:30 p.m. Nov. 23, The Ritz Theatre is to host “An Evening with Creedence Clearwater Revisited.”
Clifford, now 68, lives in the mountains between Reno, Nev., and Lake Tahoe. He said his interest in music started early.
“I was 13 and I loved rock ‘n’ roll music. I had been collecting it since I was 9. I really wanted to play an instrument. I just didn’t know which one. I was considering sax, because at that time, there was a lot of saxophones and horn sections in bands, especially the black bands,” Clifford said.
Then, he saw a television special that helped him decide on drums.
Clifford did not take formal lessons. Instead, he listened to the radio and his records to learn the drum sequences. He did not sign up for school music groups because none of them performed rock music.
School did connect Clifford with Cook. They met on the first day of school in junior high. At the time, Cook was not playing bass.
“He was playing piano, actually, and taking piano lessons, which he hated. It was classical music, which he now loves,” Clifford said. “When I ran into John Fogerty, he was in the music room playing rock ‘n’ roll piano, which was forbidden.”
As Clifford listened, he recognized all the songs. When Fogerty took a break, Clifford approached him about forming a rock band. Fogerty said he played guitar and was looking for a piano player.
About two months later, Clifford, Cook and Fogerty formed a trio with the bass sound coming from the lower end of Cook’s piano. Fogerty’s brother, Tom, later came into the group.
Clifford said Fogerty’s attitude of “my way or the highway” led to the break-up of CCR.
As for the nickname “Cosmo,” Clifford said it originated during his college days.
“I was called ‘Clifford C. Clifford,’ by whom and for what purpose, I have no idea,” he said. “We were living in a very quirky house off campus. It was a fraternity that had been kicked off campus, so we had no adult supervision. Needless to say, there was a lot of cockroaches and ants and other vermin that needed to be gotten rid of. … They had horrible poisons available to the public in those days, and I knew how to use them. … I got rid of all the bugs.”
During a “cheap wine party,” someone asked Clifford what the “C.” stood for. Before he could respond, someone else shouted, “It stands for Cosmo – he’s a man of nature.”
After that, the guys in the band called him “Cosmo.” The name has endured.
“I have four (grandchildren) and another one in the oven. I go out, play rock ‘n’ roll and tour all over the world and I come home and play with my grandkids. It’s a pretty cool deal – the best of both worlds,” Clifford said.
He sees hints of his own musical abilities in his 2-year-old grandson who is “a natural drummer” on his own drum set. Clifford’s 4-year-old granddaughter is “an aspiring singer” and musician.
“She has a little drum set in my studio, right next to my drums. Whenever she wants to pound, she can do that,” Clifford said. “She writes little songs. I said, ‘That’s where the money is in this business.’ A singer-songwriter – I like it.”
Clifford said he did not write any of the CCR hits because Fogerty would not consider performing compositions by the other band members. Now, Clifford does some songwriting, but he tends to focus on his family and touring with CCRevisited.
Completing the band are Kurt Griffey on guitar, John Tristan on lead vocals and guitar, and Steve Gunner, vocal harmony, percussion, keyboard, harmonica and acoustic guitar.
Tickets range from $35-$80. Visit www.ritztheatre.org or call (419) 448-8544.