Bill Holdship on Creem: The 12″ Mega-Awesome Extend-o Remix

The life, death and strange resurrection of America’s only rock ‘n’ roll magazine: the first of two parts

By Bill Holdship (Metro Times)

This is the mammoth Creem piece Bill mentioned he was working on a few weeks back in his blog entry. Excellent stuff–great summation of the ‘zine’s formative years (though I wish there was a little more about contributors other than Bangs), and it ends with a zinger… can’t wait for part two.

10 thoughts on “Bill Holdship on Creem: The 12″ Mega-Awesome Extend-o Remix

  1. Scott, thirty years from now when someone writes whatever deseves–a book, an article, a paragraph, a sentence–and mostly leaves you out of it, I trust you will again celebrate.

  2. I should have added, I presume the celebration will feature fireworks, balloons, cakes and candy if what’s written also butchers facts, doesn’t bother to do a feather’s weight of research, and sides with the liars and thieves.

  3. Dave, I’m not exactly sure what this has to do with Bill’s article, in which you’re mentioned nine times by the way (I counted) and in which he gives much due to the ‘zine’s formative years. I assume you’re writing in reference to the book itself. You have beefs (to put it mildly) with Matheu and with the book, so I also have to assume you’re aggravated that we not only haven’t been badmouthing him and/or his project here, but we went so far as to feature him in a 2-part interview. What can I say–we’ll continue to cover the story and other Creem-related stuff (we are the unofficial house organ, after all…) in whatever way we see fit, and by “we” I mean by whomever it is covering that particular segment (there really is no collective “we” here, and I prefer it that way). I still (and suspect I will continue to) have mixed feelings personally about all this legal business and backstage bickering, but it interests me because the story of Creem itself interests me, from all angles. (I’d happily have you and Matheu go at it together right here on the site, though I suppose lawsuits and everything else would prevent such a thing from ever happening.)

    I wanna say, however, that I think some of the ire you are raising among varioius Creem contributors and readers these days is precipitated by stuff like you calling later Creem “just a comic book.” You’re entitled to that opinion, obviously, and I’m sure you have interesting and smart reasons for holding to that (I’ve personally never heard any of your reasons, mind you), but there are tons of readers out there, myself included, who most certainly don’t agree. I’ve taken my own Creem stash out of the cupboard recently–my earliest issue is from ’71, the issue with your Who cover story, and I have about 115 issues all the way up to the end–and as I’ve started to look a little closer at the contents and re-read more of the articles (and in many cases, read things for the very first time), I think in terms of overall writing quality, the ‘zine is remarkably consistent at least up until the mid ’80s, and in certain respects (less flab?), it gets better with age rather than worse–I mean, no offense, but there’s a LOT of stuff in those early issues that seems entirely superfluous and dated–and why wouldn’t there be? You can write off the post-73 years if you like–and I do want to explore your claim about the mag completely excising black music after you left, which I suspect is an exaggeration that contains some truth–and though you’ll never get me to ultimately choose sides between different eras–anymore than you’ll get me to choose sides between the, um, Second Beatles Album and Revolver–there are lots and lots of readers out there, believe me, who much prefer the Johnson/Holdship/Riegel/Kordosh/etc. crew to you and your cronies. It feels like this is what rankles you so much. Tell me if I’m off base.

    I really appreciate you stopping by, and hope you continue to do so–I don’t need to reiterate here what a big fan I am. And by the way, if is even mentioned in a lonely parentheses somewhere in the year 2038 I’ll probably do cartwheels down the block. Assuming I can still even walk at that point.

  4. Boy oh boy Howdy, only one sentence in the Metro Times article about true founder Tony Reay…were you around then, Dave? The link isn’t active to Tony’s rebuttal of Michael Kramer’s History of “America’s Only Rock’n’Roll Magazine”. Is there a different link or an archived copy of Tony’s comments that can repost?

  5. I started out reading Holdship’s Pt. 1 in an elated mood; by the end, as he got to the parts where old staffers are basically chomping at the bit to piss on each others’ graves when the time comes, I was just depressed. I mean, I’ve already read tons of the sniping and griping and races to interject various versions of history into the mix on blogs (and here) as the news about the CREEM book got out and people had a chance to look at it (and in some cases, apparently casting their opinions without actually seeing the book). So it’s not like I was unaware of all that.

    But I sort of look at it this way: if someone had given me a crystal ball back in the mid ’70s when I began to feel my initial stirrings of roccrit wannabe-itis, and I was able to see just what it all comes to in terms of broken friendships, petty professinal rivalries and just plain boneheaded, arrested adolescent territorial pissings many years later, I wonder if I would have been so enthusiastic about a writing career. (Maybe I wouldn’t have dropped out of law school in the late ’70s after all, knowing what the future might hold for me.)

    The rock journalism world probably isn’t all that different from other professional milieus, although it’s likely that it attracts more than its share of misfits, malcontents and possibly even unpleasant people to its ranks (where else can you grind an axe year after year and get paid for irritating people but in the journalism world?). But I have to say, I got into this whole thing for the community, for the chance to share the wealth and spread the enthusiasm — I risk redundancy by saying this, because I’ve said it many times over the years, in my own fanzines, for other publications, and most recently on the daily radio broadcast I take part in.

    And I’d like to hope that if I convene some 20 years’ hence at a music panel — I hope someone will be kind enough to wheel me in gently — I will be able to greet my fellow scribes as if we were old wartime shipmates at what might be our last likely reunion before we passed on. That’s probably dumbly idealistic, however.

    I will add one thing: in that same 20 years’ time, CREEM will still be remembered, on bookshelves, on the internet, in the closets of pack rats such as you and I, and certainly by a younger generation of writers who drew inspiration from it (some from the ’70s version, some from the ’80s incarnation, but who cares which?) as a complete, maybe even iconic, entity.

    I doubt that many of the writers, staffers and hangers-on who are coming out of the woodwork of late to fire potshots at one another will be similarly remembered.

    Apologies if this is all too Rodney King-ish for anyone’s unsentimental tastes. Feel free to give me a good L.A. cops-style beatdown if so.

  6. I thought of one thing a bit later after my original post above. For some time, the whole “former Creem staffers versus the Matheu crowd” reminded me of something but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Then it hit me: shades of the Bush administration’s “if you’re not with us then you’re against us” Iraq war rhetoric.

    But I don’t see bad guys (or an axis of evil…) lurking behind every potted plant or stray journalistic observation.

    Sometimes a book is just a book, Mr. Freud.

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