Creedence Clearwater Revisited: An interview with Cosmo

by Sue Guynn. 0 Comments

“Bad Moon Risin’,” “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” “Born on the Bayou,” “Fortunate Son,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain” and a cover of Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.” That’s rock ‘n’ roll gold and they’re part of the long list of hits for Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Photo by Jeff Dow Creedence Clearwater Revisited

Photo by Jeff Dow
Creedence Clearwater Revisited

The band’s split in 1972 is well-documented, said founding member Doug “Cosmo” Clifford in a phone interview today. Internal conflict between long-time friends and bandmates Clifford, Stu Cook, Tom Fogerty and brother John Fogerty ripped the band apart. Clifford and Cook remained close friends, Tom died in 1990, and the conflict with John Fogerty continues, Clifford said.

“It’s ongoing,” Clifford said. “Lawyers are talking for both sides. They’re getting rich and the problem’s not being resolved.” It’s been decades since he’s talked with John Fogerty, but would like them to find the “common ground and stop the trend.”

In 1995, Clifford and Cook got together to play some music in his home studio. He lives in the mountains near Reno, Nevada, and winters in Scottsdale, Arizona.

With just Cosmo on drums and Cook on electric bass, “it was boring.” It had been more than 25 years since they played any CCR music and after putting a band together to play a few private shows, they went on to play a public show and the response was “phenomenal,” he said. In 1996, they played 110 shows.

The band is called Creedence Clearwater Revisited and they play the hits of CCR, with about 70 shows a year now. The band will play at The Event Center at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, in Charles Town, West Virginia, on Friday night. The show starts at 9 p.m. and you have to be 21 or older to attend. Tickets are $45 and $75.

Spending time with family and other interests take precedence these over touring now, he said. Clifford has lived in the mountains near Reno for about 35 years.

“People call me Doug, or Cosmo. Bandmates call me Cosmo or Cos, my mother calls me Doug, or if I’m in real trouble she calls me Douglas,” he said. Some things never change.

Before they were Creedence Clearwater Revival, the band was known as The Golliwogs. Huh?

It was the name their manager and record label owner gave them. In 1967, an offer to record an album on condition they change their name, opened the door to revival. “We had about two pages of names,” Clifford recalled. “Creedence” with its “connection to honesty and all that and we threw in an extra ‘e’,” “Clearwater” because of a popular commercial of the day for Olympia beer and because Clifford was an amateur entomologist and wanted to educate people about the health of the planet, and “Revival” because it “was like a revival of ourselves. No more silly name and no more silly costumes.”

Clifford, Cook and the Fogerty brothers were friends since junior high. Clifford and Cook “met the first day of school in seventh grade,” Clifford said. “The letter ‘C’ brought us together in home room. We talked about hot rods, even though we were too young to drive, and music. We had basically the same record collection,” with “rock ‘n’ roll … Fats Domino, Little Richard, Ray Charles, the great music happening at the time. I bought my first record when I was 9 years old, a 78 by Etta James. My second record was by Bo Diddley and that really hooked me on rock ‘n’ roll,” he said.

They started an instrumental trio at 13, with John Fogerty, and played backup at gig’s for older brother Tom Fogerty. “We all learned to play instruments together and record music together … that’s how we got our (CCR) sound,” Clifford said.

“Rock ‘n’ roll can make you feel ageless, make you feel good and forget about what’s going on in this crazy world for a little bit,” he said.

He’s amazed at the multi-generational audiences that come to Creedence Clearwater Revisited shows.

“That’s the best part, really, and the greatest accomplishment,” Clifford said. “We have three generations and the fourth coming along with what I call ‘single digiters,’ 7-, 8- and 9-year olds. You don’t see many shows where you have a demographic like that.”

You can read more of my interview with Doug “Cosmo” Clifford in the Aug. 20 edition of 72 Hours, inside The Frederick News-Post.

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