The Untold Truth Of Creedence Clearwater Revisited

You can almost say that they're CCR, but they aren't. Creedence Clearwater Revisited is essentially Creedence Clearwater Revival without the two Fogerty brothers, John and Tom. For the past 26 years, Revisited has been playing nothing but the classics the original CCR used to perform back in the day. Of course, those classics would arguably sound better if John Fogerty was still on good terms with ex-bandmates (and Revisited founders) Stu Cook and Doug Clifford, but as most fans know, both sides have been at odds with each other for slightly more than five decades. And while things seem to have gotten better in recent years, as noted by Rolling Stone, it's fair to say that hell still has a better chance of freezing over than CCR's three surviving members have a chance of fully reuniting.

Those who have followed Creedence Clearwater Revisited since the band's formation are likely aware of all the legal problems they've had with Fogerty and probably know most, if not all, of the songs they regularly perform in concert. However, we can also argue that music fans are far more familiar with the band behind "Proud Mary," "Fortunate Son," and all those other '60s and '70s hits than the group that regularly covers those songs without their former leader and his late brother. So with that said, here's the untold truth of Creedence Clearwater Revisited.

Cook's surprise move next door to Clifford got the band started

The generally accepted version of Creedence Clearwater Revisited's origin is that bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford (above, back in the day) formed a new band in 1995 that would do something John Fogerty was, at that time, refusing to do: play Creedence Clearwater Revival songs. There is, however, more to that story, as Clifford recalled in an interview with The Arizona Republic in 2015. The drummer told the outlet that the seeds for Revisited were planted when Cook got in touch with him about possibly moving back to the San Francisco Bay area from Los Angeles.

"So I said, 'Before you pick a place, why don't you spend a week with me, with your family, up in beautiful Lake Tahoe?'" Clifford continued. "So he did. And at the end of the week he was buying a house. So there we were neighbors again."

With Cook's plans having changed due to his unexpected move to Lake Tahoe, he and Clifford started rehearsing at the latter's studio. But with both men limited to bass and drums, they decided to form a new band and revisit — pun not intended — the CCR discography. "We had heard practically daily since the breakup that people would love to be able to hear the music live again," he related. "So we were fortunate to put a band together pretty quickly."

Their original singer was discovered while working as a janitor

After agreeing that it would be a good idea to play music again, Clifford and Cook recruited two members to join what would become Creedence Clearwater Revisited – lead guitarist Elliot Easton (best known for his time with The Cars) and multi-instrumentalist Steve Gunner. Finding someone who could do justice to John Fogerty's distinctive vocals, however, was a far greater challenge. Speaking to Classic Bands' Gary James, Clifford admitted that Revisited auditioned approximately 10 vocalists before they hired a veteran musician named John Tristao (pictured above) to sing for the band.

Tristao was once part of a one-hit wonder band called People that peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1968 with the song "I Love You." By the mid-1990s, he was apparently struggling to make ends meet as he worked three jobs, including two as a janitor, and occasionally performed at bars to further augment his income. According to Clifford, these jobs only paid about $1,000 a month combined, but with Tristao proving to be an impressive frontman and skilled rhythm guitarist, it was a classic win-win situation for the struggling journeyman musician and his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame bandmates.

As noted by Culture Myth, Tristao remained with Revisited until 2016, when he was replaced by the group's current vocalist, Dan McGuinness. Sadly, it appears that health reasons have plagued Tristao in recent years. The Whidbey News-Times reported that he suffered a "life-threatening cardiac event" in 2016 that required emergency surgery.

Former Revisited guitarist Elliot Easton grew up a CCR fan

The Cars aren't the first act one would think of when it comes to bands influenced by Creedence Clearwater Revival. They were, after all, a new wave and power pop band whose sound is as far removed as you can get from CCR's swamp-rock anthems. That's why it may have come as a bit of a surprise to some that Cars lead guitarist Elliot Easton (pictured above) was touring with the rest of Creedence Clearwater Revisited during their early days.

In a 1996 interview with rock journalist Steve Newton, Easton revealed that he grew up as a huge fan of CCR and had, in fact, covered many of their songs with his band in high school. "I have always been a genuine fan of Creedence — which might be surprising, considering the Cars were sort of an English-influenced, modern-pop band," he added. "But comin' up I was a huge fan of Creedence and The Band and Taj Mahal and Mike Bloomfield."

In that same interview, Easton maintained that he wasn't merely touring with Revisited as a mercenary of sorts, adding that he felt confident fans would come around and "walk away very happy" after watching the group's shows. As the Chico Enterprise-Record noted, however, Easton eventually left to form The New Cars — yes, yet another offshoot of a legendary band — and was replaced by Kurt Griffey.

Here's why Creedence Clearwater Revisited has five, not four members

Creedence Clearwater Revival was a four-man band with a rather conventional setup — they had a singer/guitarist in John Fogerty, a second guitarist in Tom Fogerty, a bassist in Stu Cook, and a drummer in Doug Clifford. Meanwhile, Creedence Clearwater Revisited stands out for the fact that they have one more member than CCR did, with Steve Gunner playing multiple instruments onstage and adding background vocals.

Speaking to Culture Myth in 2017, Cook explained why Revisited decided to go with five members instead of staying true to CCR's four-man formula. "Nobody had heard any version of Creedence live for decades; they were mostly familiar with the albums," he said. "So we set out to recreate the album sound. Steve is able to play a number of instruments for us on stage, and bounce from guitar to keyboards and add background vocals. It makes our live act more well-rounded."

While one can argue that it's impossible to replicate CCR's album sound with someone else on lead vocals, that doesn't seem to be an issue, as Cook stressed that Revisited is able to "recreate the overall sound" despite how current frontman Dan McGuinness' vocals are "completely different" from those of John Fogerty or original Revisited singer John Tristao.

Creedence Clearwater Revisited has yet to officially retire

In April 2019, Creedence Clearwater Revisited announced plans for their farewell tour, which they fittingly called "The Final Revival." Doug Clifford told Rolling Stone that he and his bandmates chose to end their run as a touring act because they wanted to "make the family the priority" and spend more time with their grandchildren. Cook offered his own explanation, describing life on the road as a "drag" and noting that "there are far more years behind us than left in front of us."

While that tour was supposed to wrap up later in 2019, it looks like Revisited hasn't officially thrown in the towel just yet. According to their website, their last concert took place on February 29, 2020, at Aguascalientes, Mexico. That was just a few weeks before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the still-ongoing health crisis is, in fact, the reason why Revisited says on their concert dates page that "all touring has been suspended." Given how there doesn't seem to be any end in sight to the pandemic, it's anybody's guess as to how and when the group will choose to ride off into the sunset and retire from the road.