Rock Revival

Raw talent isn’t always enough to be noticed and become successful in the music industry. It takes drive, sacrifice and persistence. Waiting for that big break can be discouraging, but it paid off for one rock band that had put in 10 years playing any gig they could find.

John Fogerty had started a band with a couple of classmates in junior high, called the Blue Velvets. His older brother Tom, who was already a locally known singer, joined the band a couple of years later as lead vocalist. They played sock hops, fairs and the bar scene, for several years while honing their craft.

After changing the band name to Creedence Clearwater Revival and John taking the reins as lead singer, the group scored its first record deal and released their self-titled debut album in 1968. CCR was off and running, earning its first hit single with a cover of “Susie Q.”

The band would release six more albums over the next four years, racking up the hits with original tracks like “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Down on the Corner” and “Who’ll Stop the Rain.” Unfortunately, turmoil between the band members led to its termination in 1972.

In its five years of recording, CCR did manage to leave its mark on the music world and inspire the next generation with Fogerty’s introspective lyrics and distinct sound.

One young musician, with a similar start as Fogerty, was particularly taken with the group’s music and mirrored their style for his own band. Randy Linder, like Fogerty, started a band with his buddies in junior high.

“In 1968, I was in eighth grade and I started my first band called The Reflections,” Linder said. “We were afraid to sing at that point, so we did all instrumental music. That was the year CCR started as Creedence Clearwater Revival, so I remember being aware and interested in CCR right from the start. My guitar playing style was influenced by John Fogerty’s guitar playing style right off the bat.”

Linder realized music was going to be his path in life, so he shook his fear of singing in public and took his place leading the band.

“It only took about two years for me to decide that it was kind of silly to be afraid of singing in front of people, so I started singing because I knew the whole band thing is what I wanted to do and that required me to sing, and I’ve enjoyed it ever since,” he said.

He then took the next steps, playing gigs anywhere and everywhere, and like the CCR members, was working another job to support himself and continue working on his music.

“I began playing at a young age in bars and anywhere I could play,” Linder said. “I was also a self-employed carpenter, so it was kind of a combination of those two things that I raised my family on. But then, in the year 1999 I began putting together the Creedence Clearwater Revival tribute show and it wasn’t long after that I was able to give up the carpenter side and make my entire living playing music.”

At that time, tributes were just becoming popular and Linder wasn’t so sure if he should make that leap.

“A lot of my friends were encouraging me to, because they liked the way I sang the John Fogerty songs,” he said. “They thought I should do that, but I kind of didn’t go for it for awhile because I hadn’t looked into tribute acts and I didn’t realize at that time that it was becoming a viable industry. It wasn’t just Elvis tributes, there were lots of other tributes out there, so I came to the conclusion that that would be a cool thing to do. I definitely never regretted that.”

While Linder does not consider himself an impersonator, he does create the same ambiance of Fogerty during the height of CCR’s fame during his tribute show, Creedence Revelation.

“I’m not really playing him on stage in that I act like I am him, but I do dress like he did back in the day and I have similar hair and I do the best I can to make my voice and guitar playing sound as much like him as I possibly can,” he said. “That’s my job as a tribute artist, to give the crowd the experience that they could imagine they were at a show in 1969.”

He’ll play all of the group’s biggest hits, checking off every fan’s favorite, including his own.

“The most well-known CCR song is ‘Proud Mary’ and that one always gets a big response,” Linder said. “It’s hard for me to pick a favorite, but if I had to pick one, ‘Fortunate Son’ would be maybe my favorite. It’s such a good, rockin’ song and people always respond well to it.”

Linder is also a songwriter, and he uses that skill to pay tribute to CCR in another way during his show.

“I wrote an original song that I do in my show that’s all about how I was inspired by John Fogerty to do what I do,” he said. “I put this one original song in our tribute show and I wrote it to sound as though it could’ve been a Creedence song and people really tend to like it.”

Creedence Revelation has played in Laughlin a handful of times and again Linder will make the trip down from his home base of Washington to play the Riverside Resort, Sept. 21-25.

“The audience can expect that they will be able to visualize themselves at a CCR concert, if they were lucky enough to be at one when it was all just getting going,” Linder said. “We do all of the hits that they’ll be looking for and it’s just a really happy time. I enjoy my crowds and I converse with them a little bit and we get to know each other. I’m happy to be coming back — we always have a lot of fun when we play the Riverside.”