‘Creem’ Once Made Journalism a ‘Contact Sport.’ Three Decades Later, the Rock Mag Is Back
More than 30 years after its final issue, the legendary Creem magazine has returned — with a vast online archive and brand new content.
On Wednesday, the wild, brazen Detroit publication launched a free digital archive, featuring every issue from its 20-year run (1969-1989) that features bylines by Lester Bangs, Patti Smith, Cameron Crowe, Dave Marsh, and more. They’ll also become a presence in music journalism again, unveiling a new website and a quarterly print subscription.
“Creem was the one place where I felt like I was part of something bigger than myself,” editor Jaan Uhelszki — one of the first women to work in music journalism — tells Rolling Stone. “All of the early staffers serendipitously finding our way to a busted three-story old bank building in downtown Detroit, like we were characters in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, needing to come together to understand why we were sculpting our mashed potatoes into the dirigible on the cover of Led Zeppelin — being obsessed by a five-note musical sequence. Not even the same one.”
“We were certain there was revelation in what we were hearing, whether it was the Velvet Underground or the Stooges,” she continues. “From the very first, the Creem staff made journalism a contact sport, attempting to wrestle some of the biggest stars off of their pedestals on Mt. Olympus, then giving readers the play-by-play — like Lester Bangs’ infamous dust-ups with Lou Reed — all the while making it feel like you not only were watching a movie, but you were in the movie.”
The news follows the excellent documentary Creem: America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, released in 2020. The publication will be led by Uhelszki, CEO John Martin (formerly of Vice), and JJ Kramer, the son of Creem’s co-founder, Barry Kramer.
“We were all brought together by the belief that a song could change your life, and in the most extreme cases, save it,” Uhelszki says. “[Writer] Ben Edmonds was fond of saying, ‘We didn’t even really like each other, we had nothing in common. But we all had the same dream.’ I still have that dream. And fortunately, I have again found people who have that dream, too.”
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