There is probably not a truer American rock and roll band than Creedence Clearwater Revival. Combining rhythm and blues, country and a dash of soul, CCR paved a blazing trail right into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. When the band broke up, the members went their seperate ways. Years later, CCR's rhythm section of bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug "Cosmo" Clifford formed a new band Creedence Clearwater Revisited. They continue the legacy today with a stellar lineup that does the utmost justice to CCR's hallowed music. I had the great pleasure to speak with Doug Clifford recently from his home in Nevada....
MICK: Do you prefer to be called Doug or Cosmo?
DOUG: Either one! i was first called Cosmo in college. My nickname came out of nowhere and kind of stuck like dog poop on a shoe! Everybody in the band calls me Cos or Cosmo, including my longtime friend Stu Cook. It's lasted a long time. We had a nice big album out of it [Cosmo's Factory]!
MICK: When did you first start playing drums?
DOUG: I started playing when I was 13.
MICK: How did the band come up with the name Creedence Clearwater Revival?
DOUG: We were originally called The Golliwogs and we didn't name ourselves that. We hated it. What made it even worse was the uniforms we had to wear because of our manager. We fired him. We had three pages of names. Credence Newball was one of them. He was a black janitor that worked with Tom [Fogarty]. Creedence of course means truth and honesty. Clearwater was an Olympia Beer commercial and also a key word for ecology at that time. We were thinking of that before anyone else; and Revival was a revival of ourselves, no more goofy outfits and no more goofy manager. That's it!
MICK: Is Stu Cook your oldest friend?
DOUG: Yes, we known each other for 53 years now!
MICK: Creedence Clearwater Revival was one of the headliners at the Woodstock Festival in 1969. What was the band's reaction to not being included on the soundtrack album?
DOUG: That was John Fogarty's call. He didn't think we did good enough and we all did. He was the band's manager at the time and it was a bad management decision. A real bad one. We are finally in there now after 40 years on the bonus tracks. I'm very proud of everything we did and under the circumstances, I think everyone did a good job.
MICK: What is your favorite Creedence song?
DOUG: "Born On The Bayou".
MICK: In 1993, when CCR was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, John Fogarty refused to play with you and Stu at the induction ceremony concert. What exactly happened that night?
DOUG: Nothing happened! We didn't play! We went there expecting to play. Nobody told us. There was a conspiracy going on. John was rehearsing with Springsteen and the other big shots for a month. John told the Hall of Fame not to tell us. It was pretty ugly. It was very wrong. You always look for the positive and I think, unknowing at the time, it planted the seeds for Creedence Clearwater Revisited. This is our seventeenth year with the project!
MICK: Longer than your time with CCR!
DOUG: By over 4 times!
MICK: Is there still bitterness between you and John Fogarty?
DOUG: Yes there is! He's carrying it. I don't know why. He made all these bad business decisions like not being in the Woodstock movie and not taking a 10% of the record company for a new royalty rate. We still have an entry level rate based on wholesale. That's pitiful. He did a terrible job as a manager and did a great job as a creative person. He insisted on doing the management and when we needed a real pro, he lost more than anybody. He still doesn't own his songs. It couldn't have been worse on that side and it couldn't have been better on the other side.
MICK: How did you find John Tristao, the lead singer for Creedence Clearwater Revisited?
DOUG: The guy is great! We networked and told everybody that we knew in the business what our plan was and asked for ideas. An old friend of his who works for one of the guitar string companies, put his name in. We contacted him and asked him to pick an acoustic guitar and sing. We had five songs and these had to be done without any accompaniment. I think we had ten singers and four of them passed the first audition, including John. Out of the last four, John was the last one and we knew we had our guy. He's also very funny and a natural showman. We love him!
MICK: Creedence Clearwater Revisited released an album 'Recollection" in 1997. It went platinum! Will there be another record in the near future?
DOUG: No but there might be some additions to "Recollection". Our name kind of paints us into a corner where we can't go outside of the band or do any original material or anything that wasn't done by Creedence. There still some beautiful little gems and nuggets in the catalog. We work the songs up in sound check. So we have a few we will be laying down and then putting out a single CD with half of the songs coming from "Recollection" which were all hits and the other half will be the songs we are working on. Not sure when its coming out but it will be in the mix!
MICK: What drummers do you admire?
DOUG: My mentor and favorite drummer, who has long since passed, is Al Jackson Jr. from Booker T. and the MG's. What most people don't realize is that they weren't just an instrumental band doing "Green Onions" and the like. They were the house band for Stax so they played on all the hits from people like Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, etc... They were just an awesome band. A quartet as we were too. We tried to model ourselves after them. We took them on the road with us and did 31 dates in America. I became good friends with Al. He gave me some pretty good advise during those years. While I was actually playing drums he was a mentor. The guy that inspired me to play drums was the great Gene Krupa from Tommy Dorsey's Band. I saw a television special when I was 12 and it was all about him. After that, I knew what I wanted to do! And do it on rock and roll records!
MICK: Aren't you a Viet Nam veteran Doug?
DOUG: I'm not a Viet Nam veteran. I was in the United States Coast Guard during that time period in the Coast Guard Reserve. I had an awesome deal. There was a two year waiting list to get in. I was going to be drafted by the Army in two weeks as i already had got the notice. I was recruited as a football player to play on the west coast for the United States Coast Guard. We were an undefeated championship team! I led the league in interceptions in that position. Fate!
MICK: John Fogarty was in the service at the same time with you, right?
DOUG: He was in the Army Reserve in Richmond, California. That was one city away from our hometown which was maybe five miles. We weren't in the war. We were both very fortunate to have got past that hurdle.
MICK: What do you do in your leisure time?
DOUG: I spend time with my family. I have 3 grandchildren. I just had my third a few days ago! I'm a family guy. Play a little golf. I used to play a lot but I'm playing less and less. I live on two golf courses. I winter in Scottsdale Arizona and then eight months in Reno-Tahoe area. I need to get back to my golf game! It's something that I am missing!
MICK: Are there any new bands that you like today?
DOUG: There probably are. I will hear something on the radio or on TV and I will like it. But I usually miss whoever the band is. I like the old stuff. I like country. There's some pretty good songwriters in Nashville. The drummers are playing some pretty cool parts as opposed to just the basic of things. The rhythm sections in country now are more pop than country. I find that an interesting transition.
You can see Creedence Clearwater Revisited, along with Three Dog Night, at NYCB Theatre in Westbury
Sunday, July 17, 2011 8:00 PM
For more on CCV: www.creedence-revisited.com/