Last updated
Creem December 1977 Grace Slick.jpg
December 1977 cover featuring Grace Slick
Categories Music magazine
First issueMarch 1969
Final issue1989
CountryUnited States
Based in Detroit
Language English

Creem (which is always capitalized in print as CREEM despite the magazine's nameplate appearing in mostly lower case letters),[ citation needed ] "America's Only Rock 'n' Roll Magazine", was a monthly rock 'n' roll publication first published in March 1969 by Barry Kramer and founding editor Tony Reay. It suspended production in 1989 but attained a short-lived renaissance in the early 1990s as a glossy tabloid. Lester Bangs, often cited as "America's Greatest Rock Critic", became editor in 1971. The term "punk rock" was coined in May 1971, in Dave Marsh's Looney Tunes CREEM column about Question Mark & the Mysterians.

Nameplate (publishing) newspaper front page header

In American usage, a periodical publication's nameplate is its designed title as it appears on the front page or cover. Another very common term for it in the newspaper industry is "the flag." In the United Kingdom, as well as in many other Commonwealth nations, this is known as the publication's masthead.

Publication output of the act of publishing, and also refers to any printed copies; distribution of copies to the general public with the consent of the author

To publish is to make content available to the general public. While specific use of the term may vary among countries, it is usually applied to text, images, or other audio-visual content, including paper. The word publication means the act of publishing, and also refers to any printed copies.



In the winter of 1969, Barry Kramer owned the Detroit record store Full Circle as well as Mixed Media, a head shop/bookstore and was an unsuccessful concert promoter and band manager. In a fit of pique at the local alternative paper having rejected a concert review he had written, he decided to publish his own paper. Tony Reay, a clerk at the record store, became the first editor, naming the publication after his favorite band, Cream. Charlie Auringer became the photo editor and designer, and Dave Marsh joined soon after at age 19. The first issue was distributed only in Detroit as a tabloid-sized newspaper. A deal was struck with a distributor, but many copies were ordered by porn shops who were confused by the faintly suggestive title, and displayed it next to the similarly sized Screw magazine. Richard "Ric" Siegel became circulation director and within two years CREEM had become a glossy color magazine, sized for newsstand distribution, and secured a national distribution deal. [1]

Cream (band) 1960s British rock supergroup

Cream were a British rock band formed in London in 1966. The group consisted of bassist Jack Bruce, guitarist Eric Clapton, and drummer Ginger Baker. All three members sang lead and backing vocals. The group's third album, Wheels of Fire (1968), is the world's first platinum-selling double album. Formed from members of previously successful bands, they are widely regarded as the world's first supergroup. In their career, they sold more than 15 million records worldwide. Their music spanned many genres of rock music, including blues rock, psychedelic rock, and hard rock.

Dave Marsh is an American music critic, author, editor and radio talk show host. He was an early editor of Creem magazine, has written for various publications such as Newsday, The Village Voice, and Rolling Stone, and has published numerous books about music and musicians, mostly focused on rock music. He is also a committee member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

<i>Screw</i> (magazine) American porn magazine

Screw was a weekly pornographic tabloid newspaper published in the United States aimed at heterosexual men; according to a statement on the cover, it offered "Jerk-Off Entertainment for Men". It was first published in November 1968 by Al Goldstein and Jim Buckley, and was printed weekly in tabloid form. At its peak, Screw sold 140,000 copies a week. Founder Al Goldstein won a series of nationally significant court cases addressing obscenity.

The original offices were at 3729 Cass Avenue in Detroit for the first two years. An armed robbery of the offices convinced Kramer to move the operation to a 120-acre farm in Walled Lake, Michigan at 13 Mile and Haggerty Road. Just before the move, Lester Bangs was hired, originally to write a feature on Alice Cooper. He had been fired from rival music magazine Rolling Stone by publisher Jann Wenner for "disrespecting musicians" after a particularly harsh review of the group Canned Heat. Bangs fell in love with Detroit, calling it "rock's only hope", and remained there for five years. [1]

Walled Lake, Michigan City in Michigan, United States

Walled Lake is a city in the southern central portion of Commerce Township in Oakland County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 6,999 at the 2010 census.

Lester Bangs American music critic and journalist

Leslie Conway "Lester" Bangs was an American music journalist, critic, author, and musician. He wrote for Creem and Rolling Stone magazines, and was known for his leading influence in rock music criticism. The music critic Jim DeRogatis called him "America's greatest rock critic".

Alice Cooper American rock singer, songwriter and musician

Alice Cooper is an American singer, songwriter, and actor whose career spans over 50 years. With his distinctive raspy voice and a stage show that features guillotines, electric chairs, fake blood, deadly snakes, baby dolls, and dueling swords, Cooper is considered by music journalists and peers alike to be "The Godfather of Shock Rock". He has drawn equally from horror films, vaudeville, and garage rock to pioneer a macabre and theatrical brand of rock designed to shock people.

Many of the staff members lived in the Walled Lake farmhouse, where there were occasional physical altercations between writers. Marsh had objected to Bangs' poorly housebroken dog, and placed the dog's dung on Bangs' typewriter. This resulted in a fistfight that gave Marsh a gash on his head. Eventually, the magazine was successful enough to move to editorial offices in downtown Birmingham, Michigan. After becoming editor in 1971, [2] Bangs left the magazine in 1976 and never wrote for it again. On January 29, 1981, Kramer died of an accidental overdose of nitrous oxide, and Bangs died a year later on April 30, 1982 in New York City of an accidental Darvon overdose. [1]

Birmingham, Michigan City in Michigan, United States

Birmingham is a city in Oakland County on the north side of Metro Detroit in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is located in the Woodward Corridor, with Bloomfield Hills to its northwest and Royal Oak to its southeast. As of the 2010 census, the population was 20,103.

Nitrous oxide chemical compound

Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas or nitrous, is a chemical compound, an oxide of nitrogen with the formula N
. At room temperature, it is a colourless non-flammable gas, with a slight metallic scent and taste. At elevated temperatures, nitrous oxide is a powerful oxidiser similar to molecular oxygen. It is soluble in water.

This geographical separation from the majority of the entertainment industry in the United States, then focused primarily in Hollywood and New York City, resulted in a certain irreverence, a deprecatory and humorous tone that permeated the magazine. The magazine became famous for its comical photo captions, which poked fun at rock stars, the industry, and even the magazine itself. Every year, the tall Plexiglas pyramid presented as the American Music Award was dubbed "The Object From Space", and was attributed with the power to force celebrities to look ridiculous while holding it. [3] The location also meant CREEM was among the first national publications with in-depth coverage of many popular Detroit-area artists, such as Bob Seger, Mitch Ryder, Alice Cooper, The MC5, The Stooges, Iggy Pop, and Parliament-Funkadelic, as well as other Midwestern acts such as Raspberries and Cheap Trick.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe, which is 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.

Hollywood District in Los Angeles, California, United States

Hollywood is a neighborhood in the central region of Los Angeles, California, notable as the home of the U.S. film industry, including several of its historic studios. Its name has come to be a shorthand reference for the industry and the people associated with it.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.


CREEM picked up on punk rock (which many claim the magazine helped to conceptualize, if not invent) and new wave movements early on.[ citation needed ]CREEM gave massive exposure to artists like Lou Reed, David Bowie, Roxy Music, Blondie, and The New York Dolls years before the mainstream press.[ citation needed ] In the 1980s, it also led the pack on coverage of such upcoming rock icons as R.E.M., The Replacements, The Smiths, The Go-Go's and The Cure, among numerous others. It was also among the first to sing the praises of metal acts like Motörhead, Kiss, Judas Priest, and Van Halen.[ citation needed ]

Punk rock is a rock music genre that emerged in the mid-1970s in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. Rooted in 1960s garage rock and other forms of what is now known as "proto-punk" music, punk rock bands rejected perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock. They typically produced short, fast-paced songs with hard-edged melodies and singing styles, stripped-down instrumentation, and often political, anti-establishment lyrics. Punk embraces a DIY ethic; many bands self-produce recordings and distribute them through independent record labels.

New wave is a genre encompassing numerous pop-oriented music styles popular in the late 1970s and the 1980s with ties to mid-1970s punk rock. New wave moved away from traditional blues and rock and roll sounds to create pop and rock music that incorporated disco, mod, and electronic music. Initially new wave was similar to punk rock, before becoming a distinct genre. It engendered subgenres and fusions, including synth-pop.

Lou Reed American musician, recording artist, singer-songwriter

Lewis Allan Reed was an American musician, singer, songwriter and poet. He was the lead guitarist, singer and principal songwriter for the rock band the Velvet Underground and had a solo career that spanned five decades. The Velvet Underground was not a commercial success during its existence, but became regarded as one of the most influential bands in the history of underground and alternative rock music.

Melvins guitarist Roger "Buzz" Osborne taught Kurt Cobain about punk by loaning him records and old copies of CREEM. [4]

Alice Cooper referenced the magazine in his song "Detroit City" – "But the Riff kept a Rockin', the Creem kept a-talkin', and the streets still smokin' today". [5] Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth said: "Having a certain sense of humor in the rock'n'roll culture – CREEM nailed it in a way that nobody else was. It informed a lot of people's sensibilities." [6]


Publishers, editors and writers for CREEM included Barry Kramer, his partner (later his wife) Connie Warren Kramer, Lester Bangs, Dave Marsh, Billy Altman, Bob Fleck, John Morthland, Ben Edmonds, Ed Ward, Richard Riegel, Ric Siegel, Robert Christgau, Richard Meltzer, Nick Tosches, Greil Marcus, [7] Jeffrey Morgan, Richard C. Walls, Rob Tyner, Patti Smith, [8] Peter Laughner, Cameron Crowe, Trixie A. Balm (a.k.a. Lauren Agnelli), Craig S. Karpel, Linda Barber, Catherine Gisi, Todd Weinstein, Laura Levine, [9] Judy Adams, Jaan Uhelszki, Penny Valentine, Susan Whitall, John "The Mad" Peck, Robot A. Hull, Edward Kelleher (aka, Edouard Dauphin), Rick Johnson, Bruce Malamut, Lotta D. Blooz, John Mendelsohn, Jon Young, Lisa Robinson, Vicki Arkoff, Deborah Frost, Cynthia Rose, Mike Gormley, Sylvie Simmons, Gregg Turner, [10] Chuck Eddy, Mark J. Norton, Alan Niester, Robert Duncan, Alan Madlane (as Alan Madeleine), Judy Wieder, Colman Andrews, Jim Esposito, Dave DiMartino, Bill Holdship and John Kordosh. These last three edited the final versions of CREEM in the 1980s.

The magazine moved its office to Los Angeles in January 1987. Holdship and Kordosh were both involved in CREEM's move to Los Angeles after it was purchased by Arnold Levitt, but both had already left the magazine before its move to New York City after Levitt licensed the name to a publisher there, and its ultimate demise.[ citation needed ] Before licensing CREEM to the New Yorkers, Levitt made Judy Wieder editor-in-chief of a heavy metal version of CREEM, called CREEM METAL, which was originally edited by DiMartino, Holdship and Kordosh and which sold well. A young female audience-targeted spinoff, CREEM ROCK-SHOTS, was also published, as were countless special editions throughout the '80s. Former William Morris agent, musician and journalist Mark J. Petracca (aka Dusty Wright) became the editor during its New York residence over 1992–93. Chris Nadler was the last editor before the magazine was shut down. Steve Peters and David Sprague were the final members remaining in the original editorial chain that reached back to 1969.[ citation needed ]

Graphic design

The CREEM logo was designed by Bob Wilson, who also wrote a regular comic strip, "Mike and Barney". The "Mr. Dreamwhip" and "Boy Howdy" icons were designed by underground cartoonist Robert Crumb, reportedly for $50.[ citation needed ] Both appeared on the cover of the second issue as a black and white drawing titled Detroit 1969. For the December 1971 issue, Wilson colored the drawing, which appeared in every following issue in a Creem's Profiles, a parody of the then-popular Dewar's Profiles , featuring musicians and bands holding cans of "Boy Howdy" beer. [11]

Dispute and current ownership

Ownership of the magazine, trademark and intellectual property has changed hands numerous times since the death of publisher Barry Kramer in 1981, and the magazine's subsequent bankruptcy.[ citation needed ]

Arnold Levitt bought the rights to the magazine in 1986 from Connie Kramer, and added titles including one devoted exclusively to metal along with numerous monthly special editions, before shutting down in 1989. In 1990, he licensed it to a group of Florida investors who published a bimonthly glossy tabloid version, but it was not successful either. [12]

The release of writer and director Cameron Crowe's semi-autobiographical film Almost Famous in 2000, and Philip Seymour Hoffman's portrayal of editor Lester Bangs, rekindled interest in CREEM and rock journalism of the era. Former CREEM photographer Robert Matheu formed Creem Media in 2001 with his cousin Jason Turner and Michigan businessman Ken Kulpa. They negotiated a five-year licensing deal with Levitt, with the option to purchase the magazine's intellectual property rights for $100,000. They launched a website and generated new content, primarily to maintain the brand.[ citation needed ]

As the five-year deadline of the licensing deal approached, Matheu sought investors, and got a $52,500 investment from Los Angeles disk jockey Chris Carter and Barry Kramer's son J.J. Kramer. Matheu provided the balance of the $100,000. [12]

In 2007, Kramer sued in New York County and won, [13] as the Court ruled that Creem Media could take no action without the approval of Carter and Kramer.

Matheu tired of the legal battle, and resigned from the board of Creem Media in 2009. As of 2011, Creem Media, Inc. was defunct. [14]

In 2017, a group headed by Kramer acquired the CREEM brand and its archives. Kramer has produced a documentary on the magazine in collaboration with New Rose Films entitled Boy Howdy! The Story of CREEM Magazine. [15]

Battle between CREEM Media and T.A. Riggs, Licensing, LLC The litigation between Kramer and Creem Media is over. The internal fighting and litigation kept the magazine in a state of confusion and off the market. Creem Media was sued by T.A. Riggs Licensing LLC in 2010 for breach of contract. Creem Media lost that suit, and Riggs was awarded $575,000.00. Creem Media was either unable or unwilling to pay. In November of 2011 Creem Media attempted to have the judgment set aside, but in January of 2012 the Court upheld the Judgment. In February of 2012 the Court appointed a Receiver to seize all of Creem Media's assets to help satisfy the outstanding judgment. The Receiver has transferred all of the Intellectual Property from Creem Media, Inc to Riggs, CREEM International, Inc purchased the assets from Riggs being the new successor company with all rights of ownership.

Related Research Articles

Smells Like Teen Spirit Original song written and composed by Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic

"Smells Like Teen Spirit" is a song by American rock band Nirvana. It is the opening track and lead single from the band's second album, Nevermind (1991), released on DGC Records.

The Stooges American punk rock band

The Stooges, also known as Iggy and the Stooges, were an American rock band formed in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1967 by singer Iggy Pop, guitarist Ron Asheton, drummer Scott Asheton, and bassist Dave Alexander. Playing a raw, primitive style of rock and roll, the band sold few records in their original incarnation and gained a reputation for their confrontational performances, which often involved acts of self-mutilation by Iggy Pop.

Jann Simon Wenner is the co-founder and publisher of the popular culture magazine Rolling Stone, and former owner of Men's Journal magazine. Born in New York City, Wenner graduated from Chadwick School and later attended the University of California, Berkeley. He dropped out, but while at Berkeley he participated in the Free Speech Movement. Wenner, with his mentor Ralph J. Gleason, co-founded Rolling Stone in 1967 with the help of a loan from family members and his soon-to-be wife. Later in his career he became one of the founders of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and has founded other publications. As a publisher and media figure, he has faced controversy regarding Hall of Fame eligibility favoritism, the breakdown of his relationship with famous gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, and allegations that his magazine's reviews were biased.

Greil Marcus American historian

Greil Marcus is an American author, music journalist and cultural critic. He is notable for producing scholarly and literary essays that place rock music in a broader framework of culture and politics.

<i>Kick Out the Jams</i> 1969 live album by MC5

Kick Out the Jams is the debut album by American protopunk band MC5. It was released in February 1969, through Elektra Records. It was recorded live at Detroit's Grande Ballroom over two nights, Devil's Night and Halloween, 1968.

Greg Shaw was an American writer, publisher, magazine editor, music historian and record executive.

<i>Before the Flood</i> (album) 1974 live album by Bob Dylan and The Band

Before the Flood is a live album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan and The Band, released on June 20, 1974, on Asylum Records in the United States and Island Records in the United Kingdom. While in later years earlier live recordings would be released, this was the first live album that Dylan released. It is the 15th album by Dylan and the seventh by the Band, and documents their joint 1974 American tour. It peaked at No.  3 on the Billboard 200, reached No.  8 on the popular album chart in the UK, and has been certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Russ Gibb was a concert promoter, and media personality from Dearborn, Michigan, best known for his role in the "Paul is dead" phenomenon, a story he broke as a disc jockey on radio station WKNR-FM in Detroit.

Bomp! Records is a Los Angeles-based record label formed in 1974 by fanzine publisher and music historian Greg Shaw and Suzy Shaw.

Michael Azerrad American musician and writer

Michael Azerrad is an American author, music journalist, editor, and musician. A graduate of Columbia University, he has written for publications such as Spin, Rolling Stone, and The New York Times. Azerrad's 1993 biography Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana was named by Q as one of the 50 greatest rock books ever written. His 2001 book Our Band Could Be Your Life, a collection of profiles on prominent indie rock bands, received similar critical acclaim.

Jeffrey Morgan (writer) writer

Jeffrey Morgan is a Canadian writer and photographer who is best known for being the authorized biographer of both Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop and The Stooges.

Chuck Eddy American journalist

Chuck Eddy is an American music journalist.

<i>Sweet Insanity</i> album by Brian Wilson

Sweet Insanity is an unofficial album by American musician Brian Wilson that was originally planned for release in 1991. Wilson has said that the master tapes were stolen, preventing an official release, although the songs are available on numerous bootlegs. Five of the songs were rerecorded over a decade later and released on Wilson’s 2004 album, Gettin' In Over My Head, although some critics believed the remakes weren't as good as the originals. Sweet Insanity is one of the more sought-after bootleg albums.

"Let Us Now Praise Famous Death Dwarves " is an infamous interview with Lou Reed conducted by Lester Bangs and published in Creem magazine in 1975. It is now regarded as a classic document of music journalism. The title is a play on Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, the book by James Agee. The full interview was reprinted in the New Musical Express in November 2013, as a tribute to Lou Reed, who died the previous month.

Jaan Uhelszki is an American music journalist and co-founder of the music magazine Creem. She is one of the first women to work in rock journalism.

Robert Duncan is an American music critic, author and entrepreneur.

Mickey Leigh American musician and author

Mitchel Lee Hyman, best known by his stage name Mickey Leigh, is an American musician and writer. He is the brother of Joey Ramone, lead vocalist of the punk rock band Ramones.

<i>Mystery Train</i> (book) Greil Marcus book

Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock 'N' Roll Music is a non-fiction book written in 1975 by Greil Marcus. It features critical essays centered around artists such as Elvis Presley, Sly Stone, Robert Johnson, and Randy Newman.


  1. 1 2 3 Holdship, Bill (January 16, 2008). "Sour CREEM The life, death and strange resurrection of America's only rock 'n' roll magazine". Metro Times (Detroit, MI). Retrieved 3 January 2013.
  2. Harrington, Joe (2002). Sonic cool : the life & death of rock 'n' roll (1st ed.). Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Corp. p. 226. ISBN   0-634-02861-8.
  3. "Backstage - Where the stars tank up & let their images down". CREEM: 66. May 1985. Archived from the original on 17 January 2013. Retrieved 3 January 2013. Cory Hart watches amazededly as the Object forces Stephen Still and Cyndi Lauper to grin sheepishly for the rest of their lives beginning now!Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  4. Guarino, Mark (October 12, 2001). "Heavy heaven New Cobain bio sheds light on fallen hero" . Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL). Retrieved 3 January 2013 via Questia Online Library. Soon band member Roger "Buzz" Osborne started Cobain's schooling, lending him records and old copies of the '70s rock magazine Creem."
  5. "Alice Cooper – Detroit City". Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  6. Matheu, Robert; Bowe, Brian J. (2007). Creem : America's only rock 'n' roll magazine (1st ed.). New York: Collins. ISBN   9780061374562.
  7. Cwik, Greg (15 January 2013). "'Conversations with Greil Marcus' Are Not Conversations About Greil Marcus". PopMatters . Retrieved 18 January 2013. Born in San Francisco in 1945, Marcus has spent nearly his entire life in the Frisco/Berkley/Oakland area, though he would write and edit for New York-centric publications Creem, Rolling Stone, and The Village Voice.
  8. DeLano, Sharon. "The Torch Singer". The New Yorker. Retrieved 17 January 2013. Smith had been writing pieces for Creem and other music magazines …
  9. Hirsch, Caroline (August 2, 2011). "Laura Levine: New York Rocker". The New Yorker. Retrieved 17 January 2013. I worked for all of the usual suspects – Rolling Stone, Creem, Trouser Press, Spin, Sounds, the New York Times
  10. "Night after Night: Jan. 10, 2013". My SA. Retrieved January 18, 2013. Turner started his career in the '70s, writing for the Los Angeles proto-punk fanzine Back Door Man, moved on to the storied Creem magazine for more than a decade.
  11. Matheu, Robert; Brian J. Bowe (October 2007). CREEM: America's Only Rock 'N' Roll Magazine. Collins Living. p. 166. ISBN   978-0-06-137456-2.
  12. 1 2 McKinley Jr., James C. (July 27, 2011). "Rock Chronicle Inspires Battle Over Its Legacy". New York Times. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
  13. Neyfakh, Leon (2007-11-27). "No Rock of Love as Gents Try to Creem Each Other". The New York Observer. Archived from the original on 2008-10-10. Retrieved 2009-05-12.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  14. Nevada Secretary of State Business Entity Search.
  15. "Watch Frenetic Trailer for New Doc on 'Creem' Magazine". Retrieved 2 April 2017.