Creedence Clearwater Revisited
Friday, Feb. 3, at 8 p.m.
IP Casino, Resort & Spa, 850 Bayview Ave. (Biloxi), www.ipbiloxi.com
Tickets: Start at $49, available through Ticketmaster
Nearly 60 years ago, bassist Stu Cook met drummer Doug “Cosmo” Clifford and formed a friendship that’s still going strong. As they were on the cusp of entering high school, Cook and Clifford joined with guitarist brothers Tom and John Fogerty to form a band called Creedence Clearwater Revival.
The subsequent years were glorious for these young rockers. Creedence Clearwater Revival released hit after hit and developed a zealously dedicated following. Rock radio played numerous hits by the band, including “Born on the Bayou,” “Fortunate Son,” “Lodi” and “Down on the Corner” as well as unforgettable versions of “I Put a Spell on You” and “Proud Mary.”
Their hits are still in heavy rotation. Cook attributes the timelessness of these songs to a classic formula many unforgettable songs share.
“They’re honest, and they’re simple,” Cook said. “You can dance to them, and they have a good beat.”
While its fans were immersing themselves in CCR’s legendary songs, the band’s status behind the scenes was becoming increasingly volatile. Eventually CCR’s original lineup imploded when John Fogerty decided to leave the band for a solo career.
The remaining members settled into positions in new music projects, with Cook and Clifford joining Southern rockers The Don Harrison Band. Cook’s career path eventually led him away from Clifford and into the country band Southern Pacific.
In 1995 Clifford and Cook decided to reunite in a project they called Creedence Clearwater Revisited. Up to that point, the masses had many opportunities to experience live performances of CCR’s music through John Fogerty’s solo gigs. Now the pair decided it was time for the public to hear Creedence hits from two of the other founding members. Revisited also gave Cook the chance to once again work with his longtime friend.
“We go back to when we were kids, and we had a lot of life experiences that we shared,” Cook said. “They were mostly good and some not so good. We’ve always valued our friendship. The long term has always been more important that the short term.”
For Creedence Clearwater Revisited to be successful, Cook and Clifford knew they had to recruit the right musicians. Cook says their candidates first had to have a love for the music. Second, they had to be able to learn and perfect CCR’s sound and not sound like what Cook describes as a “bar band.”
After perfecting the arrangements, Cook also wanted musicians who could add their own touch to the arrangements while maintaining the songs’ purity, a philosophy that has been maintained since Revisited began.
“We want them [bandmates] to be able to add something to our performances, so they can actually own what they’re doing every night, because we pretty much play the same show every night,” Cook explained. “It’s gotta be fun. It can’t just be a job. Everybody understands that. We all work together to provide the audience with a Creedence experience.”
In the beginning, Cook’s industry connections helped him gather musicians for the first incarnation of Revisited. The bassist recruited Elliot Easton (The Cars) as lead guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Steve Gunner. Cook knew it would be a challenge to fill the lead singer position, but a mutual friend guided him to vocalist John Tristao, who went on to spend 20 years in the role.
Currently, Kurt Griffey acts as lead guitarist and Dan McGuiness recently replaced Tristao as vocalist. Before becoming a full-time member, McGuinness acted as Tristao’s understudy.
“We gave Dan a shot,” Cook said. “He worked all of last year with us and really impressed the heck out of us with the way he grew and took on the job. Johnny was filling big shoes when he did it. Now, Dan is filling the big shoes.”
Over the years, Cook, Clifford and the late Tom Fogerty’s widow, Patricia Fogerty, have gone back and forth (both offensively and defensively) with John Fogerty over issues concerning trademark usage. Early on, Revisited had to change its name. Eventually, a judge overturned that ruling.
Revisited has also had to deal with CCR purists who find the band’s existence a travesty. Cook says convincing them can be challenging, but he is confident Revisited can satisfy even the staunchest CCR fan.
“If you like Creedence and are not too concerned with the band’s issues between the members, and if the music interests you, then we’re the band,” Cook said. “It’s no different than John Fogerty playing with some pick-up band. That ain’t Creedence either. You’ve got two chances to hear these songs live. You can go check them both out and see which one you like better. I think we’ve got a more rocking band. It’s not just about the singer.”
Anyone curious for a preview of Revisited’s Biloxi show should look no further than the band’s 1998 release “Recollections,” which hit platinum. This two-disc offers live interpretations of CCR classics from a group that includes two original members who made their rhythmic mark on these legendary songs.
With the tracks on “Recollections” as evidence, Revisited is a chance for CCR fans to have new experiences with old favorites. While the music is the first concern on stage, Cook also says the creative bond between the members is infectious.
“Beyond the music, if you’re on the stage and playing, and you look like you’re having fun, then the audience picks up on subtle and not so subtle cues that are pretty near as important as the notes you’re playing,” Cook said. “I guess they call that the chemistry, when the audience says, ‘Well, it’s not Creedence Clearwater Revival, but they’ve got two original members, and they kick ass!’”