Back when the Earth’s crust was still cooling (1969), Barry Kramer cobbled together an irreverent music magazine called Creem, following on the heels of the first arguably serious bastion of rock and roll journalism, Crawdaddy, which had been birthed three years earlier. The first issue of Creem blared “We are a rock ‘n roll magazine, with all that that implies”, and it was one of the first publications to give us all a look into the antics — both onstage and off — of such acts as Alice Cooper, The Stooges, The New York Dolls and MC5. Before it folded in 1989, it had established the careers of many notable writers, including Dave Marsh, Greil Marcus, Robert Christgau, Richard Meltzer, Nick Tosches, Cameron Crowe and Lester Bangs. Creem was, at its peak, the go-to source for just about everything rock and roll in the 70s.
Now, if the stars and planets align properly, Creem will live again in the form of a new documentary. Boy Howdy! The Story Of Creem Magazine is getting the Kickstarter treatment, with the filmmakers aiming for a $100,000 infusion in order to get the project off the gound. It features interviews with musicians, writers, former staffers and others, including Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, Lenny Kaye and Paul Stanley.
In one segment, Alice Cooper recalls in his usual wry fashion, “We finally got an album out. Lester Bangs reviewed it as ‘a tragic waste of plastic.’ That’s a great review!” Adds editor Jaan Uhelszki, “We didn’t put artists on pedestals. If anything, Creem was dragging artists off of pedestals. At heart, we were just a band of misfits.” Exhibit A: Lester Bangs on Emerson, Lake and Palmer: “Musical sterility at its pinnacle. A band that, you know, has absolutely no soul. There’s nothing — there’s no feeling in the music.” Ouch. How did you really feel, Lester?
The documentary tracks the Detroit-based Creem — self-described as “America’s only rock ‘n roll magazine” — as its credibility grew over the years while the staffers managed to eschew journalistic rigidity. “Were they serious about this?” asks photographer Bob Gruen. “No, they were never serious about anything. Rock ‘n roll’s not supposed to be serious. It’s supposed to be fun.”
Producer J.J. Kramer, who’s the son of Creem‘s founder, says “This is a story that I’ve wanted to tell my entire life. Creem is more than a magazine. It’s a living reminder of my father. This film is the perfect way to preserve the legacy that he and the Creem community created.”