Imagine the San Francisco Bay Area circa 1967, and any number of landmark
moments in rock & roll history come to mind—the Grateful Dead on the steps at 710 Ashbury St., Jefferson Airplane
expanding minds at the Fillmore, Janis Joplin belting it out at the Human Be-In. Of course, there was more to the local
music scene than free love and flowers. Across the Bay, greasy East Bay beats were heating up at the hands of players
like Larry Graham, Francis Prestia, and Paul Jackson. Up around the bend in sleepy El Cerrito, California, an entirely
different flavor of swamp-soaked grooves was percolating courtesy of Tom and John Fogerty, Doug Clifford, and Stu
Cook, better known as Creedence Clearwater Revival. CCR would crank out seven albums and a number of hit singles
until internal tension ripped the band apart in 1972. Cook and drummer “Cosmo” Clifford moved on to play together
in the Don Harrison Band, and Stu took the place of bassist Jerry Scheff in the pop country band Southern Pacific in
1986. In 1995, Cook and Clifford teamed up to form Creedence Clearwater Revisited. After a few years in fits and starts,
CCRev is back on the road this year, playing all the classics to an ever-expanding fan base.
How did you get your start in music?
My first instrument was trumpet, and I played piano in the Blue Velvets, which was the instrumental trio John
Fogerty, Doug Clifford, and I had in junior high school. I switched to rhythm guitar, and then I finally rented a Fender
P-Bass from Leo’s Music in Oakland back in the mid ’60s. I liked bass—you played one note at a time, and you got paid
as much as everybody else!
What was the music you were raised on?
The San Francisco Bay Area saw a huge transformation during World War II. People came from all over the country
to work in the ports and bases, and they brought their music with them. In the East Bay, there was a lot of R&B, and
at night, we could hear the country station broadcasting from Sacramento. So we had an outrageous cross-section of
urban and rural music as kids.
Creedence came up alongside the bands that defined the San Francisco Sound. Did you consider yourselves
part of that community?
We did, but we weren’t part of the San Francisco scene per se. We were East Bay boys, and what we were doing was
different. We were raised on AM radio—two-three-minute length songs. We could jam a song, but we weren’t a jam band.
How has your approach to bass tone
changed through the years?
Back then, there was not a lot of note
definition. These days, I like a more full-frequency
tone; it needs to be centered somewhere
in the lower midrange so it has its
own space. Now I play with a pick, because
I’m looking for note definition. I like Dunlop
Jazz II picks—they’re a little bit smaller than
typical picks, but real pointy. I like that it’s
a precision tool.
Where in the CCR set list do you use
I use a Pickle Pie B on the signature riff
on “Suzie Q,” and I use it a little bit on “Born
On The Bayou.” I also use chorus in “Long As
I Can See the Light,” “Midnight Special,” and
“Feelin’ Blue.” On my Tone Hammer head, I
run the gain down and the drive up, which
gives some great distortion. As it turns out,
adding a bit of grind makes everything blend
better. And girls love distortion, you know—especially on the bass!
You and Cosmo have played together
for more than 50 years. How would you
characterize the pocket you create?
We keep it simple, so there’s a lot of room
Who are some of the players you keep
an eye out for?
I really admire guys like Bryan Beller and
Damian Erskine and of course, the generation
before with Marcus Miller and Victor
Wooten. Those guys knock me out not only
with their talent, but with the way they’ve
adapted and incorporated devices. It’s largely
a young man’s game out there, and I have to
admit being too comfortable sometimes. I’m
glad that Cosmo and I still have a job—we tell
each other that we’re on the Senior Rock Tour!
There’s nothing wrong with that.
There really isn’t. We’re having the time of
our lives. It’s so great to see so many Creedence
fans, younger ones especially, around the
world. We’re really blessed. Fogerty wrote
some great songs for the band with a great
catalog and continued airplay and ever-growing
fan base. I think we probably have more
fans now than we did back in the heyday.
As Chris Rock would say, “Cornbread—ain’t
nothing wrong with that!”
Revival, The Singles
Bass Mike Lull
PJ5 with Seymour
Duncan pickups and
Rig Aguilar Tone
Hammer 500, SWR
Goliath III 4x10
Strings Dunlop Nickel,
Picks Dunlop Jazz II
Effects Wren & Cuff
Pickle Pie B, MXR
Bass Envelope Filter,
MXR Bass Chorus
Deluxe, DigiTech HT-6
Other Planet Waves
cables and accessories