When the music erupts March 28 at Pala Casino Spa & Resort’s event center, hundreds will undoubtedly start tapping their feet and moving to the distinct rhythm of the songs made wildly popular by Creedence Cleerwater Revival (CCR).
CCR broke up in 1972 and original band members Doug “Cosmo” Clifford and Stu Cook and three other carefully selected musicians began recreating those sounds in 1995 through the Creedence Clearwater Revisited tribute band. With a continually growing, three-generation fan base, they are celebrating their 20th anniversary.
Clifford, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with Cook in 1993, explained how the original sound is replicated to perfection.
“The foundation of rock and roll records is the rhythm section, that’s the foundation you build the house on; when you hear it, you say, ‘That’s Creedence’ and that’s because it’s me and Stu. We’ve been doing this a long time.”
Doing it a long time means from the beginning of CCR.
Clifford and Cook grew up in East Bay San Francisco with the Fogarty brothers. “We played together 10 years before we had a hit,” said Clifford. “We backed up Tom and it went from there. It was a long journey.”
When asked if he thought the tribute band would ever soar to its current popularity, Clifford said, “Absolutely not.”
“When we started this thing, we had no idea how it would go; Stu and I just wanted to stay under the radar, do some private shows, and stay out of trouble,” he explained. “Stu and I always get into trouble, whether it’s intentional or unintentional. From age 13 to present, we have had many lives apparently and we still have a few left. We haven’t grown up yet!”
Putting together the right artists to recreate the CCR sound was a careful and deliberate process.
“Our mission was to find people that could not only play the songs, but understand what the music means to people; be respectful; be able to do it right; that was the criteria for us,” said Clifford. “We were able to do that.”
Their first performances as Creedence Clearwater Revisited were in retail venues.
“Our first couple of shows became big, public events; it was a smash and people went crazy,” he explained. “Now our horizons have been multiplied and we can do whatever we want.”
Clifford said during the forming of the tribute band, he was frequently asked, “How can you do it without Fogarty?”
“Actually, we can do it quite well without Fogarty,” he said.
In describing the distinct and unpretentious earthiness of CCR’s music, Clifford likes the term “American roots rock and roll.”
“It’s not southern rock, although we do some country songs; on the other side of the coin, it has a Blues flavor; it’s a melding of those two,” he said. “The music is well executed, well thought out, and very simplistic; that’s what you have to work on.”
Since CCR’s music is bold, distinct, and consistently full-throttle, when asked how that level of energy is achieved and sustained, Clifford said, “You want to play every note and show your stuff. This is a case where less is best, as long as it is done honestly and from the heart, but it always has a good beat.
In addition, the social commentary in the songs seem to strike a heartfelt chord with fans. That’s why songs like “Proud Mary,” “Down On The Corner,” and “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” are well-known to three generations.
Clifford said his band “is looking forward to being at Pala” and can’t wait to have the crowd in front of them. The performance will be one of 70 to 75 concerts the band will play this year.
“Quite a few years back, I protested the 100+ concerts a year because I was gone more than I was home,” he said. “I saw burnout coming.” Clifford and his wife of 46 years (and high school sweetheart) split their time between homes in Reno, Nevada and Arizona.
“I’m a snowbird,” he said, with a chuckle.
For concert ticket information, visit www.palacasino.com.