Hello Creem!

Today in 1969, Creem, “America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine,” was first published. For the next three decades, it will be second only to Rolling Stone Magazine in influence.

Creem’s writers included a galaxy of rock journalists, some of whom became household names.  Lester Bangs, Dave Marsh, Billy Altman, Bob Fleck, John Morthland, Ben Edmonds, Ed Ward, Richard Riegel, Ric Siegel, Robert ChristgauRichard MeltzerNick ToschesGreil Marcus, Jeffrey Morgan, Richard C. Walls, Rob TynerPatti Smith, Peter LaughnerCameron Crowe, Trixie A. Balm (a.k.a. Lauren Agnelli), Craig S. Karpel, Linda Barber, Catherine Gisi, Todd Weinstein, Laura Levine, Judy Adams, Jaan UhelszkiPenny 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, 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 were among the Creem team during its glory years. (Wikipedia)

Creem December 1977

Creem championed heavy metalpunk rocknew wave and alternative bands, with a special focus on those based in Detroit. Dave Marsh‘s Looney Tunes column about ? and the Mysterians coined “punk rock” in the May of 1971. Some also credit that issue of Creem for originating the term “heavy metal.” Author Philip Bashe in his book on the genre wrote, “Best indications are that the term heavy metal comes from Beat generation author William Burroughs’s novel Naked Lunch (published in Paris in 1959, in the United States in 1962).” (Taylor Francis) However, Creem did much to popularize the term throughout the 1970s.

Creem’s first offices were located at 3729 Cass Avenue in Detroit. After an armed robbery, publisher Barry Kramer relocated the the operation to a 120-acre farm in Walled Lake, Michigan at 13 Mile and Haggerty. Right before the move, the legendary Lester Bangs came on board to write a feature on Alice Cooper. Bangs was sacked at Rolling Stone after a particularly harsh review of the band Canned Heat. Lester Bangs would fall in love with The Motor City during his five year run with Creem, calling it “rock’s only hope”.

Books by former Creem journalist and long time Detroit News writer, Susan Whitall

The iconic Creem logo was designed by Bob Wilson, a cartoonist who contributed comics “Mike and Barney” and “Mr. Dreamwhip” to the publication. The famous “Boy Howdy” icons were designed by underground cartoonist Robert Crumb. Legend has it that he was paid $50 for his work. Both images debuted on the cover of issue number 2 as part of a drawing titled Detroit 1969. by Barry Kramer and founding editor Tony Reay.

Creem changed ownership many times after publisher Barry Kramer died in 1981 and the magazine descended into bankruptcy.

Cameron Crowe‘s 2000 film Almost Famous, and Philip Seymour Hoffman‘s powerful portrayal of Lester Bangs, reawakened interest rock journalism of that era and brought Creem back into the popular culture spotlight.

Several Creem contributors went on to write influential books about the rock genre, the most prolific are likely Dave Marsh and Susan Whitall

For those of us who grew up with it in Detroit, Creem will always be an important part of our youth.

Today in History:

The Marvelettes

1770: The Boston Massacre (Incident on King Street): British soldiers kill 5 men in a crowd throwing snowballs, stones and sticks at them. African American Crispus Attucks 1st to die; later held up as early black martyr. Massacre galvanizes anti-British feelings.
1836: Samuel Colt manufactures first pistol, 34-caliber ‘Texas’ model.
1956: ‘King Kong‘ 1st televised.
1960: Elvis Presley ends 2-year hitch in US Army.
1962: The Marvelettes became the first Motown act to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show on CBS-TV.
1963: The Beatles record ‘From Me to You‘ & ‘Thank You Girl‘.
1969: The first issue of Creem magazine was published.
1970: ‘Airport’ based on the book by Arthur Hailey, directed by George Seaton and starring Burt Lancaster and Dean Martin is released.
1971: ‘Stairway to Heaven‘ by Led Zeppelin first played live at Ulster Hall, Belfast by Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Bonham and John Paul Jones.
1982: John Belushi, noted comedian for Saturday Night Live and part of the project the Blues Brothers (‘Gimme’ Some Lovin”), died from drugs at the Chateau Marmont Hotel in Los Angeles at age 33.
2002: American reality TV program The Osbournes‘ featuring family of Ozzy Osbourne premieres on MTV.

Today’s Birthdays:

Murray Head

1908: Rex Harrison, English actor (My Fair Lady, Dr Doolittle), born in Huyton, England (d. 1990).
1927: John ‘Jack’ Cassidy, American singer and actor (Oscar-He & She, The Eiger Sanction), born in Richmond Hill, Virginia (d. 1976).
1934: James B Sikking, CA, actor (Hill St Blues, Star Trek 3, Doogie Howser)
1936: Dean Stockwell, California, actor (Werewolf of Washington, Blue Velvet)
1939: Tommy Tucker (‘Hi-Heel Sneakers’ from 1964) was born in Springfield, Ohio; died January 22, 1982
1946: Murray Head, British singer (Jesus Christ Superstar), born in London.
1947: Eddie Hodges, Miss, actor/singer (High Hopes, Adv of Huckleberry Finn).
1952: Alan Clark, keyboardist (Dire Straits-Sultans of Swing).
1956: Teena Marie, American singer.
1956: Bobby DeBarge (d. 1995)
1958: Andy Gibb, British singer-songwriter, performer and teen idol (Bee Gees-I Just Want to Be Your Everything), born in Manchester, England (d. 1988).
1974: Eva Mendes, American actress (Training Day, 2 Fast 2 Furious), born in Miami, Florida.

Much More Music:

1959: “Dream Lover” – Bobby Darin:  Darin went into the studio on this date in 1959 to record “Dream Lover”. Produced by Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler, it was an early success for the Atlantic Records Atco label and was the precursor to his breakout smash, “Mack the Knife“. Darin started his career as a songwriter for Connie Francis. He was married to actress Sandra Dee from 1960 to 1967. He worked on Robert F. Kennedy‘s presidential campaign and was present on the night of June 4/5, 1968, at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles at the time of Kennedy’s assassination. An early bout with rheumatic fever weakened his heart and drove him to accomplish as much as he could as soon as he could. He died on  December 20, 1973 following heart surgery at age 37.  (Video)

1966:  “Tijuana Taxi” – Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass: This week in 1966, the TJB owned the top two album spots on the Billboard LP chart. Going Places took over at #1 from Whipped Cream & Other Delights. “Tijuana Taxi” was the first cut on side one of Going Places. The fascination with Alpert’s unique musical style lead to five number one singles on the Adult Contemporary chart. By 1969, their popularity was in decline, although Alpert as a solo artist would earn another number one ten years later with “Rise”. (Video)

1986: “You Can Call Me Al” – Paul Simon:  On this date in 2007, Simon’s Graceland album joined the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction”, “Blue Suede Shoes” by Carl Perkins and the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” on a list of recordings chosen by the United States Library of Congress for preservation by the National Recordings Registry. Graceland became Simon’s most successful studio album and his highest-charting album in over a decade selling 16 million copies worldwide. The music video, featuring Saturday Night Live alumnus, Chevy Chase, was an MTV fave.  (Video)

Today’s Quote Worth Re-Quoting:  “Never give in. Never surrender.” ~Galaxy Quest

One more for the road: By now, you know that I’m a fan of well produced records with full orchestration and an arrangement that accentuates the artist’s strengths. Such is the case for this chestnut: Michael Bublés “Save The Last Dance for Me“. Taken from his second major-label studio album, It’s Time, the tune gained a following when it was played over the closing credits of the 2005 film The Wedding Date. It has a great #hook and a the perfect arrangement for Michael’s crooner constitution. Enjoy! (Video)

Thanks for listening!

Scott Westerman
Curator: Keener13.com
Host and Producer – Rock and Roll Revisited
Author: Motor City Music – Keener 13 and the Soundtrack of Detroit