Doug Clifford plays drums. Maybe you’ve heard him.
You’re familiar with Clifford’s work if, at some point in the last 40-plus years, you’ve been within earshot of “Proud Mary,” “Born on the Bayou,” “Up Around the Bend,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Down on the Corner,” “Fortunate Son” or “Lookin’ Out My Back Door.”
OK, change “maybe” to “likely.”
Clifford laid down the drum tracks on those Creedence Clearwater Revival tunes in the late 1960s and early ’70s. At the time, he didn’t know his music would be talked about decades later.
“Absolutely not,” the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member said with a laugh in a recent phone interview with The Goshen News. “... I had no idea longevity would be part of the program.”
It was, and Clifford will be keeping the beat to that classic repertoire Saturday at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair. The revamped CCR line-up, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, is set to take the grandstand stage at 8 p.m.
Clifford will be joined by bassist Stu Cook from the formative membership. The group is minus original players Tom Fogerty (deceased) and John Fogerty (long gone solo). The Revisited crew now includes Kurt Griffey, Steve Gunner and John Tristao.
Clifford outlined what the relative newbloods bring to the ensemble:
• Tristao — The frontman, lead singer and rhythm guitar player “does many things and he does them well,” Clifford said. “His vocals are spot-on.”
• Griffey — “He’s the youngest one in the group,” Clifford said of the lead guitar player. “... He knows how to work the stage. He’s a brilliant guitarist. He gets what we’re doing, gets the genre. And he brings excitement, and takes the solos to a new dimension.”
• Gunner — “That’s the guy who sits back there and plays everything,” according to Clifford, “everything” being acoustic rhythm guitar, keyboards, percussion and harmonica, in addition to singing the high harmonies. “Those are all the overdub parts we couldn’t do as a quartet.”
The Revisited group’s Saturday gig is a long time removed from when the rhythm section got together. Clifford said he and Cook have known each other 55 years.
“We started the original band when we were 13,” he said. “So it took us 10 years to have our first hit.” Clifford said they were learning to play their instruments and be a band at the same time.
Clifford described the early CCR as being a bit out-of-step in the psychedelic era.
“We were students of American roots music,” Clifford said. “That’s what we started out learning doing, learning to play. And that’s what we’ve really stayed true to our roots, if you will.”
According to Clifford, CCR aspired more to the sound of southern rock and roll and basic R&B.
“We weren’t going to change because of a fad or anything of that nature,” he said. “Our peers laughed at us, called us the Boy Scouts of Rock and Roll because we weren’t doing drugs while we were playing. We just didn’t really fit in.”
Clifford also recalled being told his band would never make it playing its style of music.
“The last laugh is always the best laugh,” he said.
Creedence Clearwater Revisited has played the Elkhart County fair before, and Clifford said the group is looking forward to its Saturday show.
“We love what we do,” he said. “And we take the music seriously, but we don’t take ourselves seriously, and that’s a big combination for a lot of fun. We goof off as much as we can onstage in interacting with each other.
“I still get an adrenaline rush,” Clifford said. “The day that that actually stops will be the day that I pack it in. But no signs of that happening, right now anyway for sure.”
Showtime is 8 p.m. Saturday
Doug Clifford plays drums. Maybe you’ve heard him.
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