The full title of Jake Rohrer’s new memoir is hard to beat for being a concise summary of the book in question: A Banquet of Consequences: True Life Adventures of Sex (not too much), Drugs (plenty), Rock & Roll (of course), and the Feds (who invited them?) As Jake told me in a recent interview, all our lives are indeed “banquets of consequences” resulting from our choices and actions. Of course, not all of us are going to share the same consequences as Rohrer because we haven’t all lived lives of sex, drugs, rock and roll, and what happens when the FBI takes a dim view of our actions. As Jake puts it, those Feds don’t have much of a sense of humor.
What is going to draw most readers to Banquet of Consequences are the sections that describe Rohrer’s time with Creedence Clearwater Revival, first as a high school bud and then as part of their publicity and touring staff. Jake knew them back in 1960 when the group was first known as the Blue Velvets, then briefly as the Golliwogs, and finally CCR. He remembers the band as being one of the most honest, straight forward high school bands when there were few such ensembles. Then, Tom Fogerty joined the group and the girls started to go crazy.
Rohrer recalls how Creedence Clearwater made some important radio connections when they played benefits for striking DJs fighting with the management of KMPX. When that staff moved over to KSAN, the jocks repaid the band by happily playing their demos before the first LP was released. Then came 1969 and Rohrer left the auto dealership he’d been working at to first become CCR’s press agent, a role that expanded to include supporting the band on the road. In fact, Rohrer told me he hopes readers will especially enjoy getting insights into what went on behind the scenes when CCR was on tour.
Yes, Rohrer gets into the sad break-up of the band and does so with an even hand. He managed to remain friendly with the various members afterwards, and one of the most interesting sections is his descriptions of his time with John Fogerty hunting, camping, and jamming with the locals near Troy, Oregon. If you ever wondered what Fogerty was doing between the demise of CCR, the Blue Ridge Rangers, and Centerfield, here’s part of the answer. Much of that time in the musical wilderness was literally spent in the wilderness.
But be warned. Perhaps 1/5 to ¼ of this book deals with CCR and the rock business. In fact, you’ll be 59 pages into Banquet of Consequences before we meet John Fogerty, Stu Cook, and Doug Clifford in high school. Rohrer isn’t telling his story in chronological order, but instead introduces himself by describing his years in prison for drug running. After sketching his time with CCR, the rest of his book gets into how he ended up in jail and his unhappy interaction with the Feds. He admits that, while his title plays with the FBI by saying ‘”who invited them,” he now admits “I did.”
Obviously, fans of Creedence Clearwater Revival will be keenly interested in Rohrer’s insider accounts. In addition, Rohrer thinks that, beyond the rock biz, a wider readership will appreciate his portrayal of the times that CCR was part of. His days in prison aren’t the most harrowing you’ll ever read, and his years as a drug dealer aren’t much different from other such convicts. But, put together, this fast-paced anecdotal autobiography does have a place in the ever-growing genre of rock memoirs. It’s entertaining, but not cover-to-cover indispensable reading.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=162901138X]