CCR at CVI: Stu Cook lookin’ out his back door

Nick McCabe
Creedence Clearwater Revival in March 2017: Stu Cook is in the middle.
Nick McCabe / Tahoe Onstage

Creedence Clearwater Revisited will play at The Carson Valley Inn in Minden on Sunday, Aug. 12. In anticipation, I was offered an interview with Stu Cook after having talked with Doug Clifford, who lives in Reno, the last time the band came to our area. Since Cook lives in Sarasota, Florida, I had to get my coffee fix early and make the call at 6:30 a.m. (9:30 a.m. his time).

After a brief introduction, I mentioned interviewing Clifford last year and as me being a part of the Forté Awards, which presented him a lifetime achievement award. This perked Cook up and he told me he got one, too. At that point, we became fast friends (in my mind). Both bass guitarist Cook, 73, and drummer Clifford, 73, were founding members of the original CCR band and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

On the subject of touring, Cook says it’s great these days since everybody gets along well. Plus, he and Clifford get to play with some top notch musicians.

“Here’s how I look at it: We play for free and get paid to travel. Touring back in the ’60s and ’70s was poorly laid out, sometimes having to sleep on the bus. Now the logistics of it all are much more refined. Now we get really nice touring buses. Food on the road is horrible, though — not like eating at home. Booking? It’s seems like it’s done with a handful of darts, a map and a blindfold.”

Tahoe Onstage
Stu Cook is CCR’s forever bass player.

Aside from music, Cook’s interests include scuba diving, flying his own plane (he used to fly out of Minden a lot when he lived at Incline Village), being an amateur radio operator, and photography. Back in the early CCR days, he had a darkroom and developed his own 35 mm film. He has taken videos of his scuba diving experiences, but decided he didn’t need to shoot videos of what he sees every time he dives. “It’ll be there the next time I dive,” Cook said. The way I interpret this is that he shares his music with the world, but the diving is just for him.

At this point, I jumped into the lightning round, so he could get on with his day, and fired off some quick questions.

Tahoe Onstage: Do you have any unrealized goals?

Cook: Improve my Spanish, and get my golf game down under 100. I don’t really have any great goals right now.

What’s your favorite vacation you’ve ever been on?

Africa was my favorite place to visit. India is probably my second favorite.

Where would you like to go that you haven’t been to yet?

I have a strange urge to go to Antarctica, but I don’t know why. I don’t like the cold anymore after living up at Tahoe for 13 years. Actually, I would like to go back to Africa. It’s a place where you really feel the planet.

If you are stranded on an island, what music would you want to have with you?

Ray Charles, The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, Queens of The Stone Age, and the Foo Fighters.

What’s your favorite cocktail?

Wow! That’s a tough one. I have so many of them. There’s this drink I found in Austin, Texas, called a Gills Perfect Margarita. We had many of those every time we went out there.

Do you have a guilty pleasure?

None. I don’t have any guilt! (laughs)

Success requires sacrifice somewhere along the line. What have you sacrificed for the music?

Oh, man. Success is largely luck. There is sacrifice. We pooled our resources. We lived below the poverty line once we committed to going full time with Creedence back in ‘67. We lived below the poverty line and had no pleasures except cigarettes and some weed if we could afford it. Cigarettes only cost 29 cents. Those were the days! But ya know I’m still sacrificing. I’m away from home quite a lot to do this, but I love doing it, so there’s a reward.

 What are the rewards?

I have a comfortable lifestyle. I’ve had some wonderful life experiences, and I hope they continue. I’m on a good trajectory to enjoy the remainder of my life – the golden years as it were. Barring any of the usual bumps in the road, I should get there OK.

We talked for about a half hour. Stu was very generous with his answers. We laughed a lot together and really chatted a lot outside of the interview process. He ended the conversation by inviting me to come backstage after the show in Minden to meet up and talk some more. Good times.

 — Nick McCabe

ABOUT Tahoe Onstage

Tahoe Onstage
Tahoe Onstage is an online entertainment and sports magazine covering Lake Tahoe, Truckee, Reno, the Carson Valley and June Lake.


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