Were Creedence Clearwater Revival members misfortunate ones?
August 14, 2008
Who headlined Saturday night at Woodstock?
The old joke goes, if you remember the ’60s, you probably weren’t really there. But if you do know the answer, you really know rock ‘n’ roll history.
The band was Creedence Clearwater Revival, but neither the album nor the movie of the best-known music festival in history included the performance. And the drummer is miffed that nobody seems to know about it.
“I really feel we were cheated,” said Doug Clifford, who, along with Creedence bassist Stu Cook, keeps the music alive with Creedence Clearwater Revisited.
CCR had the misfortune of coming onstage early on the morning after the Grateful Dead’s long set, but that’s not why the performance wasn’t in the film.
“It was a (John) Fogerty decision, and it was the wrong one,” Clifford said. “It was really a bad decision.”
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Fogerty, the band leader, might have prevented the release of the performance footage because it occurred during a rainstorm.
“He said he didn’t think the performance was good enough,” Clifford said. “The conditions were completely chaotic. Half the equipment didn’t work, but everybody else had the same deal, really, and they were all in the movie. It helped their careers immensely at the time and beyond. And they have the recognition of being there, and I have to explain to people all the time that we were there. It’s kind of crazy.”
Despite all that, Clifford has fond memories of the festival.
Because it was so late, the band, which needed to get to another show, could not leave via helicopter. Instead, a local “farm boy who knew the mud roads,” drove Creedence out, Clifford said.
“It was amazing,” he said. “You could see people out there in the worst conditions. There was no food, very little potable water, no shelter and half a million people. Under conditions like that, you’d think people would be rioting. But everyone was helping everyone else. There was a lot of naked, muddy people. It was unique. You could feel that positive energy.
“It was a totally different generation. Remember what happened the 25-year anniversary (concert)? They tore down the stage and burned down food stands, and they had (all the modern conveniences). But (at the first Woodstock) conditions were horrid. It was peace and love. It was the real deal.”
Creedence was the first major band to agree to play at the festival.
“If we hadn’t played there, I don’t think Woodstock would have happened,” Clifford said. “Nobody would sign up (because the promoters) were amateurs with this wild idea. The so-called hit bands and hippie bands, as John called them, the Dead and (Jefferson) Airplane, didn’t want anything to do with it. We were the No. 1 concert draw in America at that time, and just about instantly after word got out that we had actually signed, everything fell into place. If we had passed like everyone else, I don’t think it would have happened. After that, to not be in the movie was a huge disappointment to the band.”
Clifford and Cook both said a new movie on the 40th anniversary of Woodstock is due out next year,. They are hoping to be in the film this time. Clifford said CCR’s performance of the song “Chooglin’ ” could be the selected track. However, the decision might again be Fogerty’s to make.
“Hopefully he’ll figure it out and look at the footage and see it’s not as bad as he thought it was,” Clifford said.
Next week: Lake Tahoe leads to the reunion of Doug Clifford and Stu Cook, and the creation of Creedence Clearwater Revisited.
If you go
Who: Creedence Clearwater Revisited
When: Saturday, Aug. 23
Where: MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa