Kickstarter Spotlight: Documentary About Legendary Music Magazine Creem

Creem Magazine, the premier source for all things rock and roll in its real guttural sense, and which became a sort of underground bible for the true outcasts (fans and musicians alike) in the 1970s, is the focus of an upcoming documentary, Boy Howdy! The Story of CREEM Magazine, which is currently making the rounds on Kickstarter for fundraising.

You can read more about Creem and watch the Kickstarter pitch video below.

From the late 1960s and through much of the 1970s, although it would appear at face value that Rolling Stone was the utmost source for all things related to music and youth, and in many ways it was, Creem Magazine was the magazine run by misfits, for misfits, the term “misfit” here being used in the best attitudinal way. People like Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop and his Stooges, and The MC5 (the magazine, based out of Detroit, Michigan, relied heavily on covering the Detroit Sound in its early years, right when that music scene was starting) were covered by Creem in a manner that told it like it was.

Unlike so many music magazines of the past that ranged from the teenybopper mundane ass kissing fodder (16 Magazine, Tiger Beat) to the “like The New York Times” feel and stance of the aforementioned Rolling Stone and even Billboard Magazine and to lesser extents magazines like Crawdaddy and England’s New Musical Express and Melody Maker, Creem wasn’t afraid or ashamed about writing articles or reviews on bands or artists that were in a negative or pandering or even scornful light. If a journalist on staff didn’t agree with something, a piece could usually take on a stance in the vein of ridicule and mocking tones, but never done in a way that still didn’t have a tongue firmly affixed in cheek somewhere. It was taking the bitter with the bitter for many artists and bands covered in the magazine, and the sweet came from the fresh and vividly created honesty in the journalist’s prose that set the magazine, in terms of style and approach, light years and razor-sharp cuts above the rest. That said, when the magazine embraced artists and bands, it was serendipitous; those in the know knew that being accepted into the Creem fold was much more akin than being embraced by the competitors.

No one did this better than the Senior Editor of the magazine’s heyday, who remains one of the greatest writers America has ever produced in any genre, and who lived sometimes with even more wild excess than the bands and artists he was covering: the late, great Lester Bangs. Other writers like Dave Marsh, Richard Meltzer, Greil Marcus, Jaan Uhelszki, and more rounded out the staff, and all of them had a sort of double barrel at the reader kind of prose, attitude, and approach. With expressions like “Boy Howdy!” (which adorned a fake beer can affixed with a Robert Crumb sketching), Creem became a subculture unto itself, and in a way, the magazine and staff became as cult revered as arguably any band it ever covered.

And it’s because of its perceptive insight into covering genres like pre-punk and post-garage and championing bands like Black Sabbath while eschewing and turning its back on the adoring chokehold the “other media” had on bands like Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, James Taylor, and Peter Frampton that makes it ripe for its story to be told on screen via the upcoming documentary. In essence, Creem was punk before punk, it was attitude in print, like musical Charles Bukowski or someone of his literal or metaphoric ilk, again, something so especially prevalent in much of Bangs’ writing, interviews, and exposés and something that contributed to the magazine’s success as did the entire staff, all with the same common interests, yet completely unique as individuals.

Titled Boy Howdy! The Story of Creem: America’s Only Rock N Roll Magazine, the Kickstarter campaign launched this past Wednesday in the hopes of getting the project to full fruition. Premiering a trailer on (ironically) the Rolling Stone magazine webpage, in which the likes of Alice Cooper and Thurston Moore wax wonderfully about the magazine and the people involved therein, even to where Alice gleefully recounts an article Lester Bangs wrote that trashed him, the trailer is filled with the kind of visual verve, gritty gravitas, and bite seen in the greatest days of the magazine and hopefully will be able to transcend throughout the entire feature when completed.

Spearheaded by the son of Creem’s publisher, the late Barry Kramer, Boy Howdy! looks to be an essential piece of filmmaking and education, archiving in sights, sounds, and visuals a musical era during the 1970s that seemed to be a time when it meant more to matter less in a way, and by doing just that in one’s art, seemed to ultimately matter even more in a historic sense.

You can learn more about the documentary in the video and trailer below and over at the movie’s Kickstarter campaign page.


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