Every teenage friendship has a rhythm, a beat of having found that like-thinking, like-age person clumsily navigating adolescence in a similar fashion. Some fade with time and distance, some endure with limitations and some make history. And, when given the chance to revisit that time, one finds that age, miles, conflicts and indignities fall away for the chance to grab that feeling again—to walk that beat.
The story of junior high school pals Doug Clifford and Stu Cook, whose friendship and kinship in music became the hall of fame band and staple of classic rock, Creedence Clearwater Revival, is an example of that.
“We met the first day of seventh grade,” Clifford said. “He sat right behind me. We both had on leather jackets and greasy hair and sort of scowled at each other trying to be cool. Turns out we had the same record collection.”
The fast friends met their future lead singer, John Fogerty, in eighth grade, and Clifford’s mind raced with the possibilities. He told Fogerty that he played guitar and that Cook’s dad was a rich lawyer with a rumpus room where they could jam. They became an instrumental trio called the Blue Velvets. After a disastrous first album and 10 years later, with Clifford and Cook and Tom Fogerty, John’s older brother, as the rhythm section, CCR burst onto the scene with their first hit “Suzie Q.”
The band went on to sell 26 million albums in the United State alone and Rolling Stone magazine ranked it among the 100 greatest artists of all time.
The boys from El Cerrito, Calif., a little hilltop town founded by refugees of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, demonstrated that they not only have the mettle to withstand forces of nature but to soothe conflicts of personality, like the one they had with singer Fogerty, the depth of which eventually brought CCR to its knees in the early 1970s.
But Cook and Clifford showed the same tenacity again about 18 years ago when they reunited at Clifford’s Lake Tahoe home, where he had spent his semiretirement raising kids.
Sparked by the joy of the resulting jam session, they demonstrated that you can chase that original high and make it even sweeter. That great music never dies, even if some friendships do.
“We had no idea,” Clifford said last week. “Stu and I just wanted to play. And we were jamming and we liked it. There is nothing like playing live music, and we have this legacy of music. We hadn’t played it in over 25 years and we remembered just how fun the music is and how much people enjoy it.”
Since deciding in 1995 to create a venue for themselves by playing a few private parties, many years and a few lawsuits later, Clifford is about to take his first vacation in five years. Creedence Clearwater Revisited has been so wildly embraced by fans old and new that they have been touring steadily, singing their signature Southern-rooted swamp rock hits like “Proud Mary,” “Down on the Corner,” and “Fortunate Son,” to name a few.
The band’s 2012 lineup includes lead guitarist Kurt Griffey, formerly with the Eagles, Foreigner, the Moody Blues, Lynyrd Skynryd and Santana. John Tristao, former lead singer for the band People, lead sings. They’re joined by multinstrumentalist Steve Gunner, Clifford and Cook.
If there are any doubts that this show will be a sing-along good time every bit as good as you remember, check out the band’s website at
www.creedence-revisited.com and listen to a snippet. If that doesn’t make you believe, then save your money. But if you’re looking to be raised up and reflect at the same time, this is your show.
They’ll exhibit the power of BFFs when they appear at the Sun Valley Pavilion for a concert as Creedence Clearwater Revisited on Tuesday, Aug. 28, at 8 p.m. Tickets to this revival can be found at www.seats.sunvalley.com and range in price from the lawn for $29 to the premium at $79.