Former Creedence Clearwater Revival members Stu Cook and Doug Clifford have formally complained to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for not being allowed on stage during the musical portion of its recent induction ceremony in Los Angeles.
In separate letters to the organization's board of directors, Cook and Clifford branded as "hurtful" and "insulting" the decision to allow ex-band leader John Fogerty to do Creedence songs without them during the Jan. 12 affair at the Century Plaza Hotel. Creedence was one of eight acts inducted.
"What the hell were you people thinking when you allowed one member to take the stage and play the songs the band made famous, while the other members were expected to sit in the audience?" bassist Cook asked in his letter.
"Did it ever occur to you that by turning what was to be a great evening for all of Creedence into the John Fogerty Show you were hurting and insulting the other members and their families?"
Suzan Evans, executive director of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, has not spoken with the two musicians, but she told Pop Eye, "I'm sorry they are hurt, but the decision was made to proceed with John Fogerty, as he was the singer and the songwriter for all their hits. It seemed natural that he should sing those songs. It was never meant to be a snub or cause hurt feelings."
She did, however, say she expects the letters--and the question of who should be allowed to perform during induction ceremonies--to be discussed at a future board of directors meeting.
Hall of Fame board member Tom Freston, who is CEO of the MTV Networks, said he feels Cook and Clifford raise a legitimate question. "They've got a gripe," he said. "It would have been preferable if they had played together. I thought it was a strange, forced, almost surreal situation."
But Jann Wenner, the board's vice chairman, doubts that the organization will change its flexible policy on the question of who performs.
"It's not our job to reconcile groups," said Wenner, who is also Rolling Stone magazine's editor and publisher. "Our business is to nominate, elect and induct members into the Hall of Fame, and we did that according to our rules and procedures.
"If we'd taken a hard-line position, you wouldn't have seen John Fogerty up there at all, and I don't think anyone would have been satisfied with the two members of the rhythm section doing 'Born on the Bayou.' "
Creedence broke up in 1972 amid considerable animosity over creative and business differences--and Fogerty simply refused to have Cook and drummer Clifford join him in a reunion at the dinner. Instead, he teamed up with guitarists Bruce Springsteen and Robbie Robertson to front the house band on three Creedence numbers.
Cook and Clifford--who were on stage with Fogerty earlier during the actual induction proceedings--said they were led to believe that they would be part of a musical jam at the ceremony, and didn't learn until the afternoon of the event that Fogerty would be playing without them. The pair confronted him backstage.
Cook quoted Fogerty as telling them at that time, "I'm not ever going to play with you again, I hate you."
Fogerty, interviewed separately, did not dispute that. "I told them, 'We're not friends, and it's silly to even entertain the idea of playing together,' " he said.
The singer-songwriter-guitarist said he was asked about a reunion and told the Hall of Fame officials no. "If that meant I wasn't going to perform at all, that was OK," he said.
His remarks were a shock, Cook and Clifford said, since Fogerty performed with them at the 1980 wedding of his brother and former Creedence member Tom Fogerty in 1980 and at a high school reunion in El Cerrito in 1983. Fogerty also sat in with Clifford at a 1988 school reunion (Cook was on the road at the time with the country-rock band Southern Pacific).
Angered by Fogerty's decision at the Century Plaza, Cook and Clifford--seated with their families at a table across the room from Fogerty's--walked out of the ballroom when Fogerty, Springsteen and Robertson began playing. "When the first chord of 'Who'll Stop the Rain' started I said, 'Let's go,' " Cook said.
That was hard enough. They were even more disappointed when they returned, Cook with his bass, to find that there would not be a jam session at the end of the event.
"It wasn't just us, but our kids never got a chance to see Creedence play and we'd hoped something might have happened that night," Clifford said.
The letters, they said, were not sent in hopes that the Hall of Fame would honor them again or even as a request for a formal apology, but just, said Clifford, "to vent our anger."
Said Cook: "What John did was mean-spirited, but the Hall of Fame was wrong in letting him get away with it."