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Creem magazine rocks on with first issue in 33 years

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“Rock is dead.” “So is print.”

So declares the cover of the first issue of Creem magazine in 33 years. The magazine — which once famously billed itself as “America’s only rock ‘n’ roll magazine” — relaunched Tuesday with an issue that is available to subscribers online. For $79 a year, subscribers will also be mailed a print edition of the quarterly magazine.

Playing off the name of the band Cream, the magazine was founded in 1969 by Barry Kramer, rising from a Detroit rock scene that included Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper and Bob Seger. With plenty of attitude and irreverence, it helped launch the careers of such rock-star scribes as Robert Christgau, Cameron Crowe and the late, legendary Lester Bangs.

After Kramer died from an overdose in 1981, he left majority ownership of the magazine to his
4-year-old son JJ, who had the title of “chairman of the board” in the masthead as a preschooler. But years after Kramer’s death, JJ’s mother sold the magazine. Now JJ Kramer is finally back as Creem chairman.

The new Creem magazine
The new Creem will be a quarterly magazine with both digital and print editions.
Frank Zappa on a 1974 cover of Creem.
Frank Zappa was one of the iconic rock artists featured on the cover of Creem in the 1970s.

“I’ve really spent most of my adult life trying to get to this point,” Kramer told the Associated Press. “It’s something I felt like I had to do. There’s a magnet that draws me to Creem. It’s almost like it was predetermined in a way that I couldn’t fight it.”

The first issue of the new Creem features a cover illustration by Raymond Pettibon (whose artwork memorably graced the cover of Sonic Youth’s “Goo” LP), stories on everyone from The Who to younger rock acts such as Viagra Boys, plus pieces on rap and R&B artists including Lil Aaron and KeiyaA. There’s also a revival of the Creem feature “Stars Cars” with Slash.

Early Creem staffer Jaan Uhelszki — who served as a writer and producer on the documentary “Creem: America’s Only Rock ’N’ Roll Magazine” — returns as editor of the magazine. “It’s uncanny how much we were like our readers,” she told The Post in 2020. “We had no other place to go, and letters to the editor had weird rock-star fantasies.”

A story on the Who in the first issue of the new Creem magazine.
The first issue of the new Creem magazine features a story on The Who.

“Buying Creem was a little bit like buying Playboy,” actor Jeff Daniels said in the documentary. “You didn’t want your parents seeing either one of them.”

Also in the doc, Michael Stipe shared how “my entire life shifted dramatically” after discovering Creem: “Most people want to fit in somewhere. I wasn’t gonna find them in my high school. I found them in Creem magazine.”

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