Stu Cook’s plan went by the wayside years ago. Creedence Clearwater Revisited, he imagined, would be a little tribute band playing the hits of Creedence Clearwater Revival for a few years and then hang it up. But that little while soon became a quarter-century, and one day Cook realized there was a whole other life off the road still awaiting him.
“We’re up in years, as they say, and there’s not a whole lot left that we haven’t done,” Cook, 74, said by phone while touring with his band. “As time rolls on, you see your family growing and other things you’d like to do that you really can’t plug into your life because of your touring schedule.”
Bassist Cook and drummer Doug Clifford, who formed Revisited in 1995, were both part of the original quartet of musicians in CCR—along with brothers John and Tom Fogerty. Despite a run of hits like “Run Through the Jungle,” “Down on the Corner” and “Bad Moon Rising,” Revival lasted only a few years before a bitter breakup in the early-’70s. Tom Fogerty died in 1990, and so poisonous was the relationship between John and the two other surviving members that the three could not perform together at their 1993 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Fogerty has gone on to a successful career of new music as well as playing Creedence hits on tour. Nonetheless, Cook and Clifford saw an opportunity to play “all Creedence all the time” for the fans who still wanted it.
“We’re not the original band, but we’re not a cover band. We’re not a tribute band,” Cook said. “[Revisited’s] premise was to [perform] and honor the music of [Revival], the original four-member band,” Cook said. “And so we play only music from the first six [CCR] albums.”
Revisited has dates in the U.S. and Canada planned for the rest of the year, but Cook insists this will indeed be it as far as Revisited exists as a touring entity. At their height, the band played upwards of 100 dates per annum but in recent years have cut back to only a few dozen bookings.
However, reducing the number of shows has actually given Revisited far more longevity than the band might otherwise have enjoyed, Cook believes.
“We have been able to take the music to people who could never see the original band either by age or geography,” Cook said. “We’ve done all we can to keep it comfortable and fun, and we think we play as well as we have over the years.”
Despite Creedence songs now being a staple of classic rock radio, Cook says the band’s rise and early career was anything but smooth. Their record label initially gave them little promotion, so the quartet often bought advertising at their own expense.
Persistence, the bassist said, was key to their eventual success.
“Don’t believe it when they tell you to go home and find something else to do,” he said. “The band’s persistence and our early years of failure made us a strong enough band to survive without all the tools of a well-oiled machine that most [successful] artists have. We never had any of that.”
However, pop culture certainly helped score the CCR songs a wider audience. Cook is quick to thank Stephen King for frequently referencing the band’s songs in his horror tomes, and a whole new generation of fans was earned thanks to the obsessive fandom of Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) in 1998’s cult favorite “The Big Lebowski.”
“Besides having your music in a film like ‘The Big Lebowski,’ to actually have your music be written into the script was the cherry on top,” Cook said with a laugh, citing a particular scene where two policemen tell the Dude that if he ever recovers his stolen car, neither his tape deck “or the Creedence” will likely still be within it.
“It helps keep your music in front of a great audience,” Cook said of the CCR catalogue finding placement in motion pictures, TV and on commercials. “We now have three full generations of fans, and we’re working on a fourth.”
While Creedence made its name in the Bay Area in the late-’60s, Cook has relocated successively to Southern California, Lake Tahoe and then Austin, Texas. He now calls Sarasota, Florida, his home off the road.
Cook plays Mike Lull basses exclusively for Revisited gigs. He said the Bellevue, Washington-based instrument maker is currently building him a jazz bass guitar using a Fender design as its prototype body but made to look like a jazz Telecaster. It will feature a satin finish and black carbon fiber pickguard.
“Whereas most Telecaster basses are precision-based bodies, this will be on a jazz-based body with a custom-designed pick guard and my own ideal tone controls,” Cook said. “I used to play Active bass, but I prefer the sound of passive bass with really good pickup—five-string of course.”
Whenever the 2019 tour reaches its end, Cook said he will continue to be involved in music while also pursuing other activities that the touring life has forestalled.
“I’d like to travel for my own cultural growth and pick up new experiences, see new places, meet new people,” he said, adding he will also have more time to golf, scuba dive and enjoy various other aquatic activities.
And, of course, still keep up with his instrument.
“We’re definitely going to miss playing but we’re not going to miss traveling. We’re not retiring form music, we’re just retiring from the road,” Cook said.
The musician claims he does not yet know where the “final” performance by Creedence Clearwater Revisited will take place, but says it will certainly be bittersweet as that chapter of his life reaches it end.
“As I sit here today finishing up my second career of the same catalogue, I feel
extremely blessed to have been a part of it,” the bassist said, adding that, in the end, it’s all for the fans anyway. “I just hope they all remember the good times they had enjoying the music with us.”
For dates on the Creedence Clearwater Revisited farewell tour, go to http://creedence-revisited.com/concert-dates/.