June 3, 2022

Creem: The Alternative Music Magazine Which Gained Readership Among the Trendy

I follow a guy on Twitter called DrPopCultureBGSU from Bowling Green, Ohio. He happens to share a TON of interesting pop culture images. The other day, he shared a picture of seventies pop music idol Andy Gibb (initially, I wrote Barry Gibb which was a mistake ... sorry!) wearing a muscle-shirt (even though he was a skinny kid who didn't really have very big muscles) with an image that struck me: Creem magazine. 

Creem magazine was an alternative to Rolling Stone magazine or Billboard back in the seventies with a somewhat provocative title that evoked porn during a period when even THAT was still pretty taboo in mainstream culture, only the magazine's music coverage was unique in that it covered hard-rock, punk, alternative and new wave music which Rolling Stone and Billboard did not dare touch until those bands had already made it to the Billboard top 40. Creem began in 1969 (the year I was born), and continued publication until 1989. Its peak was arguably during the seventies.



I was listening to groups like Blondie, The Ramones, and Martha Davis and The Motels, or if I was feeling up to something a bit harder with more guitars, Iron Maiden or Def Leppard, while Rolling Stone was covering my parents' (Baby Boomer) music like Bob Dylan and James Taylor which we kids felt was more of a sedative.

Indeed, Creem was based in Detroit which most people believe gave it an editorial edge, hence its musical coverage was different from a New York or Los Angeles-based magazine likely was. As a result, Creem was favored by many people who didn't really like or consider reading mainstream musical coverage. Creem was edgy. The magazine covers were provocative, and article headlines were irreverant.

I also grew up on a street where the litter-bugs of the world literally threw Creem and other magazines out their car windows, so as kids we got to see Creem and read it. Initially, it looked like porn, but when I actually read it, I was impressed with Creem's musical coverage because it covered bands I actually listened to on college radio stations in the seventies into the early eighties. Creem spoke to me in a way that mainstream music magazines did not. Rolling Stone was for our parents, yet Creem was listening to what I listened to.
















Apparently, Creem magazine is enjoying something of a resurgence thanks to a hit 2020 Netflix documentary called "CREEM: America's Only Rock 'n' Roll Magazine". The trailer for that film can be seen below, or at https://youtu.be/GUcCMNRTZpI:

Perhaps as noteworthy as the documentary, the old magazine now has a newly available digital archive where the old issues can be read again online (find it at https://archive.creem.com/ to read some of Creem's old coverage).

Which brings me to the Andy Gibb Creem picture. Sure, Andy Gibb was a teen idol at the time, but he was also an image of youth, and no mainstream music magazine was focused on youth at the time, they were all aging with Baby Boomers. They were becoming Yuppies.

The revival of Creem magazine was a passion product of JJ Kramer, the son of the magazine's founder, the late Barry Kramer.  The original Creem magazine ceased publication in 1989. I was in college in the Boston area at the time. There were still other (now defunct) publications, such as Boston-based newspaper The Phoenix (and its radio station WFNX which sadly, today, is a lame country station which I would never listen to) which I read instead of Creem because it had news of bands which were coming to and/or playing around Boston at the time.

Anyway, Creem's resurgency is having it's day in the sun. From the Creem documentary website:

Capturing the messy upheaval of the '70s just as rock was re-inventing itself, the film explores Creem Magazine's humble beginnings in post-riot Detroit, follows its upward trajectory from underground paper to national powerhouse.

Then it bears witness to its imminent demise following the tragic and untimely deaths of its visionary publisher, Barry Kramer, and its most famous alum and genius clown prince, Lester Bangs, a year later.

Fifty years after publishing its first issue, "America's Only Rock 'n' Roll Magazine" remains a seditious spirit in music and culture.


Be sure to catch the Netflix documentary "CREEM: America's Only Rock 'n' Roll Magazine". It will be an interesting flashback to a time when music journalism was still in print.


PansyAss said...

I really, really hate being one of these people, but here goes: the picture is of Andy - not Barry - Gibb. And I should know because I wore Andy's face on my chest in middle school - LOL! Sorry, hope you don't mind my "OCDness"

PansyAss said...

P. S. - Now I want to wear Boy Howdy on my chest at age 57. Searching the internet as we speak.