Lester Bangs and the saga of CREEM magazine

Jan 23, 2008 at 12:00 am

Last week, we examined the Detroit origins and early history of CREEM, "America’s Only Rock ’N’ roll Magazine." This week, we take a look at a controversial new CREEM book, which has resulted in a battle over the magazine’s legacy between its original ’70s staffers and the crew that ran the magazine in the ’80s through its 1988 demise.

When CREEM magazine co-founding editor Dave Marsh called the '80s version of the magazine — which employed me as an editor — "just a comic book" during a panel at the 2000 South by Southwest music conference, I didn't think it was an insult at the time. And maybe it really wasn't intended as such. Even so, numerous people approached me after the panel and suggested that I should be offended; every one of them agreed that what they loved about CREEM in the '80s was that it was like a comic book.

And, indeed, fellow '80s editors John Kordosh and Dave DiMartino had even once put together a David Lee Roth comic strip. An artist calling himself "the Mad Peck" drew record reviews as comic strips (written with the always fabulous Robot A. Hull) that graced the pages from the early days on. Hell, Stan Lee's Spiderman was on the cover of one of the early issues. And the magazine's Boy Howdy! mascot had been created by R. Crumb, the world's most famous underground cartoonist (who received a mere $50 for his efforts — publisher Barry Kramer tried to talk him down to $30 — and, as office legend had it, used the money to get a shot of penicillin).

Marsh did follow up his statement during the panel with something about the writers being more "sincere" during his 1969 to 1973 era — but in retrospect, it was kind of insulting to suggest that we later writers and editors weren't sincere.

In fact, Marsh had told me several years before that "his vision of CREEM" wasn't the same as Lester Bangs' or even founding publisher Barry Kramer's "idea of CREEM."

The funny thing is, in the '80s, we editors were all just happy to be part of what we thought was a singular legacy; we all grew up as CREEM fans who'd bought into that communal spirit nonsense that rock 'n' roll once seemed to represent. It wasn't always fun to work at CREEM in those days, but we were always proud to be part of that Detroit legacy.

Perhaps Jaan Uhelszki, a former self-described "CREEM subscription kid" who was senior editor by the time she left the magazine in 1976, described this schism of philosophies best in Jim DeRogatis' Lester Bangs biography, Let It Blurt, when she said: "Marsh saw us as foot soldiers in the counterculture revolution and Lester just saw us as bozos on the bus. We used to say CREEM was a cross between Mad magazine and Esquire. Marsh and Lester were largely responsible for maintaining that delicate balance between the absurd and the profane.''

Many would argue that the absurd bozos triumphed over the profane, if not the "profound," in the years that followed the departures of both Marsh and Bangs.

And maybe that's why, in the first edition of his Book of Rock Lists, Marsh listed CREEM during his tenure there as No. 1 on the list of all-time "best rock magazines," and CREEM during every other era following his departure as No. 1 on the list of all-time "worst rock magazines."

"Every generation has its opportunity," someone, I don't remember who, said on that SXSW panel. But anyone who experienced the '80s firsthand can certainly recall that the decade wasn't all that great, musically or culturally speaking. And yet, that atmosphere — call it the new MTV world (in which ridiculous bands like A Flock of Seagulls became stars) — was in many ways also perfect for CREEM, and I'd put our absurdity, dadaism and sense of humor against any era of the magazine. After all, DiMartino, Rick Johnson (whose zany writing made him "Best Critic" in almost every readers' poll following Bangs' departure) and especially Kordosh were some of the funniest people I've ever known or read.

It wasn't the early era of CREEM that Kurt Cobain told RIP Magazine he was reading as a kid. For some perspective, one only need ask the Replacements, Robyn Hitchcock, R.E.M., the Cure or Van Halen, among numerous others, how important CREEM was to them in the '80s. Billy Altman, the magazine's New York editor for more than a decade, has frequently pointed out that CREEM had its highest circulation in 1978 and '79 — when, quite appropriately, the Ramones and KISS were battling it out in the poll as the readers' favorite band — and it surely took a few years after that for the numbers to significantly fall (although MTV, the era of the mainstream superstar and the super-publicist, and the new rah! rah! rah!-isms of the mainstream rock press certainly didn't help).

So, it still stings a bit when you read comments from '70s staff members like the one recently published in the New York Observer that CREEM in the '80s just didn't have "the genius" that it had in the '70s ... even though that's probably right. CREEM didn't have the same genius in the '80s ... mainly because, as far as I'm concerned, Lester Bangs was the only real genius to ever pass through CREEM.

Now, the combination of all those assorted talents that original owner-publisher Barry Kramer (and, in the case of freelancers, the editors) allowed to flourish there may have made the genius all that grander and stronger. But again, Bangs was the creative-genius-in-residence. Many have thrived in his shadow and limelight ever since, especially in the wake of Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous film.

Still, every generation does have its own opportunity, and as moderator DeRogatis claimed during the panel and suggested in his Bangs biography: "I became obsessed with CREEM by reading your and DiMartino and Johnson and Kordosh's CREEM because I wasn't reading CREEM when I was 6 years old and those other guys started it. CREEM was great, I think, through 1988."


Of course, none of this would have any pertinence and would seem like an even bigger wank job if not for the recent publication of a highly controversial CREEM anthology book titled CREEM: America's Only Rock 'N' Roll Magazine, which was compiled by Brian J. Bowe, a Michigan-based journalist and past MT contributor, and Robert Matheu, a Detroit-born, L.A.-based rock photographer who obtained the rights to CREEM from Arnold Levitt, its final owner, in 2006. The book has opened a lot of the old wounds between original and latter-day staffers all over again, and, quite frankly, I'm sick of being in the thick of it all these years.

I decided at the beginning of this essay that I really couldn't write it without offending some of the people I've known and some I've even loved for years — but this is my version of the truth. And that truth finds me sometimes resenting all the negativity and animosity. Quite frankly, when I see the Boy Howdy! logo these days, I'm often as filled with contempt, if not disgust, as I am with any sense of pride.


There has been acrimony from the time Matheu first licensed the CREEM brand in 2000. On one side, the loudest voices are Detroit-based writer Sue Whitall and Marsh. Whitall was the person who first brought Matheu to CREEM as a freelance photographer in 1978 and was initially far more enthusiastic about him reviving CREEM than I was. And Marsh has complained from day one that Matheu only wants to sell T-shirts. Then there's Matheu and his CREEM Media partners (and several early CREEM veterans) on the other side. Matheu didn't exactly go out of his way not to alienate Whitall and Marsh early on.

It was rather foolish, as a businessman buying CREEM magazine, for Matheu to piss off Dave Marsh and Sue Whitall. But then, things were done and said on the part of the new CREEM Media since 2000 that frequently made me angry. None of that anger, however, had to do with the fact I was talking to anyone who'd listen about licensing CREEM and turning it into a Web site as early as 1996. But then my Los Angeles home burned down in 1997, turning me into a Hollywood nomad for quite a few years after, and that, as they say, was that.

So, I was somewhat impressed, if not a little jealous, when Matheu actually got the rights and did turn CREEM into a Web site (that was actually pretty good in its early stages) as well as a glossy, full-color presentation book — mostly material from the original magazine — which became the prototype for the new book HarperCollins bought last year.

Full disclosure: I've known Matheu since I began working at CREEM in '81. I've considered him a friend over the years. I've had some very good times with him and there have been instances when he's been very generous to me, Kordosh and DiMartino. There have also been times when I've been so pissed off at him that I haven't spoken to him for more than a year.

Matheu and his business partners in CREEM Media are presently being sued by two investors and former business associates. What makes it even stickier in the eyes of the public is that one of these other business associates happens to be J.J. Kramer, the attorney son of CREEM's founder. There was even a physical fracas at a Manhattan book release party in November, when Kramer confronted Matheu, although there are conflicting reports as to what actually happened. To say that controversy follows Matheu as a businessman these last two years, though, would be an understatement.

Recently, I was talking to Kordosh who said: "You know, I think [Matheu] probably is a hustler and a big talker but I still can't help liking the guy. I've looked at the book. I think it's OK." Now, I'm certainly not making comparisons here because Barry Kramer obviously was a visionary of sorts. Kramer, with founding CREEM editor Tony Reay and then Marsh, started something; Matheu, like Levitt, simply purchased a brand that already existed. Nevertheless, Karl Marx would be pleased to see his observations in full bloom in all of CREEM's ownership scenarios — namely that it's almost always the owners who make the most money off the creative efforts of others. That's a given.

So it should be noted that Barry Kramer was also frequently described as a hustler and big talker. On that SXSW CREEM panel, when DeRogatis suggested "it was hard to tell if Barry was lying" in regards to sales figures, someone responded: "It wasn't hard to tell when Barry was lying. His lips were moving."

When the FBI had the CREEM communal farm in Walled Lake under surveillance in the early '70s due to possible revolutionary activities, the final report determined that Barry Kramer was a capitalist at heart (though, much to his credit, the report also notes that Kramer told the government to go fuck themselves when they contacted him about being a snitch).

The point here is that when people try to paint those early years as some sort of ethical golden era ... well, all I know is that I heard the last time Barry's ex-wife Connie Kramer — who ran the magazine after Barry's death — spotted Lester, who was visiting Detroit from New York City, and hugged him from behind, Bangs reportedly rebuffed her in no uncertain terms. There was obviously resentment there, as well there probably should've been. After all, Bangs died in near poverty in 1982 and ... well, I'll say again: Without Bangs, nobody would still be talking about CREEM Magazine in 2008.


Of course, revisionism has been going on for a long time now. In 2000, music critic Simon Reynolds took potshots at Bangs (and me) on his blog, writing that he'd read Bangs' stuff in CREEM just recently, and while a lot of it was very good, a great deal of it wasn't all that. But Reynolds obviously couldn't read it in full context. So that's sort of like me saying "I listened to Elvis in the '80s," or "I listened to the Sex Pistols in the '00s, and I just don't know what all the outrage was about." Take it from someone who was there reading him at the time: Lester Bangs was great, even if it's harder these days to accept, as Greil Marcus once put it, "that the best writer in America could write almost nothing but record reviews."

Bangs isn't especially well-represented in the new HaperCollins anthology, although one could argue that there are two major books — one, Main Lines, Blood Feasts and Bad Taste, compiled by Morthland; the other, Psychotic Reactions & Carburetor Dung, compiled by Marcus, already out there.

One thing that irritates me about the new book is that the included "Androgyny in Rock" feature, one of the best things in it, appears to be a Bangs composition, even though, strangely, there's no byline on it. His wit, heart and style are all over it. It may have been a group effort, but Lester surely must have been in the driver's seat for that one. Likewise, there should have been an editor's note attached to his review of Exile on Main Street explaining that he changed his mind about the album later on, as he often did (the MC5's first album being a prime example) throughout his career. And I would have definitely voted for something else aside from the 199th reprint of Psychotic Reactions & Carburetor Dung, no matter how legendary that piece may be.

Marsh is represented by two pieces in the book (and several snippets in a Detroit rock piece), only one somewhat representative of his time at the mag.

Marsh was certainly the second name from CREEM that I began to recognize and identify with, both for his critical aesthetic and his extremely romantic views of rock 'n' roll as culture, after first worshipping at the altar of Bangs in those early years. But truth be told, it was Marsh's later stuff that I fell in love with.

I compiled and edited a 15-year anniversary special edition Best of CREEM in 1984, which gave me an opportunity to really explore the archives again, looking at those early years with a more critical eye. I'd done the same when I compiled and indexed all of Bangs' CREEM pieces for Greil Marcus, when he was editing the first anthology of Lester's works. And, of course, I'd already read and collected every issue of the magazine as a kid, beginning sometime in early 1972.


CREEM had also been my class project in the final magazine editing class I took as an undergrad at Michigan State University. I still recall the professor laughing until tears streamed down her face when I read Lester's review of a Helen Reddy album out loud to the class. The professor suggested I visit CREEM's Birmingham offices.

So I headed down to Birmingham one sunny spring afternoon. I don't believe I ever mentioned that afternoon to then-editor Sue Whitall in the years that followed, as I doubted she'd remember and also because I probably didn't endear myself to her or associate editor Linda Barber (who was exceptionally nice to a college kid) when one of the first things I asked upon entering the office was: "Where's Lester Bangs?"

I learned that he'd recently moved to New York. I also learned he'd just recently seen the published version of what would be his final piece ever (though no one knew it at the time) for CREEM — a Grace Slick feature that had been edited and cut to his dissatisfaction. It'd be the final straw that kept him from writing for the magazine again. Not that we didn't try to get him in later years. The Detroit-based Richard C. Walls, one of CREEM's finest scribes and the only one to appear in both the very first 1969 and very last 1988 issue, once told me and DiMartino that Lester liked what we were doing in the magazine. Billy Altman heard the same about his record reviews section. But despite requests from all of us, Bangs refused to ever write for CREEM again.

Nobody seemed to have a problem with what I put together for that special edition (including Marcus, another of my teen heroes for his intellectual spins on Elvis, even after I apologized for losing a paragraph of his classic "Jungle Music: The All-Time All-Star 1950's Rock 'n' roll Movie" feature in a sloppy jump). Marsh agreed to write the intro to the issue, even though — aside from Kramer's obituary — he hadn't written anything for the magazine in years. And it was brilliant.

But I was forced to study those early issues as a more mature writer at that time, and I truly came to believe that, although he was the beginning of that editorial force that gave writers the freedom to flourish and he was the one who found a lot of those writers, Marsh did his greatest work after he left the CREEM editorial staff in 1973 — including his subsequent work for the magazine as a freelancer, but especially in his consistently great Rolling Stone "American Grandstand" column, his long string of mostly excellent books, including several Bruce Springsteen biographies, and his verbal commentary on radio and TV as well as on music conference panels (as long as it's not directed at me, that is).

That's not to detract from any of the stuff he did for the magazine. I still remember how enthralling his report on Rodney Bingenheimer's English Disco was the first time I read it in the "L.A. is Alive and Sick" issue. His first MC5 piece was one of the leads in the special issue.

But the early pre-Bangs CREEM appeared — at least to these eyes — to have a different, more serious spin on that high-energy spirit that was uniquely Detroit. The humor (at least the really funny humor) and the absurd captions didn't really blossom until the arrival of Bangs, who did most of his best stuff in CREEM. Marsh claims he invented the really funny stuff, but John Kordosh once argued in an interview: "Dave Marsh taking credit for CREEM's zany captions is like Orville Wright taking credit for the lunar landing."

Nevertheless, Marsh's influence and shadow would linger over the publication until its dying days. He's complained a lot recently that his editorial era gets short shrift in the HarperCollins book. A little more than half of it is devoted to the early and mid-period CREEM; the rest to the later years. But Marsh's presence carries over even into those later years. He's largely discussed in DiMartino's Bob Seger interview, as well as my piece on the Replacements. Based on Marsh's prickly reputation, I'm sure he gets a kick out of reading Paul Westerberg complain: "Dave Marsh sucks. He thinks the Who is the greatest band of all time." Or Seger saying: "[Marsh is] a great critic. He just decided it's time to shoot Bob in the back."

And still, his shadow doesn't loom as large as Lester's did and always will. Nobody's does, after all.


Whatever the reasons, Marsh has hated Matheu from day one and has made no secret of it. He has accused Matheu to me of being "crass." And that may be true. On the other hand, one of CREEM's most famous covers was R. Crumb's classic Mr. Dream Whip cartoon — a drawing so suggestive that Matheu claimed in a recent interview that HarperCollins nixed using it as the cover to the book. Likewise, Lou Reed once told Lester in a CREEM interview that he liked sticking his fist in a jar of Dippity Do hair gel because it felt like a vagina (though vagina wasn't the word he used). And one of the funniest captions I recall from the early CREEM was a photo of Bob Dylan looking at some hot strippers in a burlesque show from a balcony, with the words underneath: "And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard ..." Now, Matheu has his faults — I believe that his forte is as an often terrific rock photographer and that he should leave the writing to the writers and the editing to the editors and simply buying the rights to a publication doesn't make you either of the latter things — but crassness, like taste, is in the eye of the beholder.

In the wake of the book, however, many of the public opinions from those early CREEMsters began to move away from the book itself and take the form of an attack on the later CREEM years. The free-for-all discussion has played out on Web sites like, as well as in such print publications as the New York Observer. Whitall even described the inclusion of a John Mellencamp piece in the book to the Observer as "so unCREEM," despite that she'd assigned stories on the Indiana rocker to Johnson, Kordosh and Ohio-based veteran Richard Riegel during her stint as CREEM's editor. It's a pity they couldn't have just kept their focus on the book.


Full disclosure: Matheu phoned me in mid-February of last year to ask if I'd edit the anthology, which HarperCollins had just bought and which he informed me "had to be finished by the end of the month." I told him I'd never heard of a publisher wanting a book — even an anthology — within two weeks of signing the contract, and the offer was never repeated.

If I'd have edited the book, it definitely would've been a much different one. I'd have also made sure writers knew their material was being reprinted before the fact as well as informing them how much they were being paid for the reprints. Whether that could've been accomplished in two weeks, while editing the book at the same time, is an entirely different matter. Matheu has claimed he will pay the contributors, but many are upset.

Truthfully, I never thought for a minute that the book would ever see the light of day, even when it was being put together, even after DiMartino and Ivan Suvanjieff (aka Mark Norton) encouraged me to write my "An Editor Remembers" memoir piece for the book because "this is probably the only CREEM book there'll ever be." (The only other CREEM books that ever appeared in the past were two, long out-of-print quickie — albeit well-written — editions of a rock history called Rock Revolution, published in the mid-'70s.)

Various outsiders have tried to get the rights and put together a CREEM anthology since at least the late '80s, including former rock writer-turned-university administrator Hank Bordowitz and Detroit attorney (and former MT columnist) Lex Kuhne. Each time, though, former CREEMsters have put up roadblocks, terming the newcomers "outsiders" and "carpetbaggers."

Whether CREEM should have taken the form of a coffee-table book is another matter entirely — but the new book is neither as bad as its detractors, nor as good as its champions say it is. I have received various e-mails from friends and acquaintances since its publication who claim to love it. Others, however, have called it "a wasted opportunity." What CREEM needs is a really strong oral history a la Legs McNeil's punk history Please Kill Me. As far as anthologies are concerned, however, the best way to do one would be to have various editors compile the best of their specific eras.

Greg Allen, who designed the 272-page book as well as the early Web site, is a terrific art director, and, visually speaking, it's handsome (perhaps too good-looking for a magazine that basically celebrated junk culture). There are some nice touches. Matheu was able to get new quotes about CREEM from Alice Cooper, Iggy (maybe too much Iggy; there's a heavy concentration on Matheu's faves and friends), Ted Nugent, Tommy Ramone and Thurston Moore, among others. There certainly could've been a lot more if they'd had longer than two weeks to assemble this volume. They could've — and certainly should have — gotten more than the several editors included here to offer reminisces; circulation director Ric Siegel, a "founding father," is the lone voice representing the early years, while Jeffrey Morgan — who never worked in the actual CREEM office — represents the mid-period years.

Many of the old articles still read great. But — it has to be said — there is way too much Bob Matheu in this book. Still, it is his name on the cover; he's the one who managed to get a book published and, as such, it's solely his vision of what a CREEM anthology should be. But it's definitely a photographer's, and not a writer's, version of things.

There are some stunning photos, several of them gorgeous, throughout the pages. But the original CREEM covers are presented as portraits here, without the original (often hilarious) headlines, which some may consider a misrepresentation. And many, many, too many great writers who made their name at CREEM are missing from these pages, a list way too long to include here, running from Walls and Robbie Cruger to Gregg Turner and Joe Fernbacher. There are no readers' letters (except one short exchange between Joan Jett and Rick Johnson), no columns (many of us first discovered Robert Christgau's Consumer Guide in CREEM, years before we'd even heard of the Village Voice), and no reviews, which featured some of CREEM's best writing.

These are all major oversights. Ultimately, the anthology is more about the photos than the words. As such, it doesn't capture the cultural force that CREEM once was.

And the copy editing is pretty problematic. For instance, the two most important quotes in my Mellencamp piece (which I wouldn't have chosen to represent my CREEM contributions in the first place), which were an important news climax to something set up in the article's introduction, were cut for space consideration. Rick Johnson's infamous "Duets From Hell" piece is condensed in the book but nowhere is it indicated as such. Kordosh's George Harrison interview originally ran in two parts, so Part 2 was previewed in the intro to his first installment. But that needs to be edited out when the interview appears in its entirety, as it does here. And the proofreading — which would be partially the fault of HarperCollins — leaves a lot to be desired; there are typos throughout.

More importantly, the Harrison piece is far from a great example of Kordosh's wit and style, just as Billy Altman's David Lee Roth piece isn't representative of what he accomplished at CREEM. But the book was obviously sold to HarperCollins based on the rock stars featured within, not the writers. After all, it's easier to pitch the publisher Chuck Eddy on the Beastie Boys, or Kordosh on Harrison and Johnny Cash, than it is Kordosh lampooning Blackie Lawless and Rush, even if the latter two are far better examples of what he could do.

None of the nonmusic covers — including the pills in the bubblegum machine or the classic cheerleader drinking wine photos — are included. Nor are such cultural touchstones as the pre-SNL Gilda Radner-as-Boy Howdy! ad; the Mercury Records New York Dolls ad (after they'd won both Worst and Best New Band in the readers' poll); or those ubiquitous "Jay Gatsby is the most wasted boy alive" ads. A few of the in-house subscription ads over the years were hilarious. Some of the stuff that appeared in EXTRA CREEM — briefly a mid-'70s supplement, exclusive to Michigan editions of the magazine — was often as good as anything in the main publication, including contributions from Bangs and all the CREEM kids. (I think I read about the gun in Frank Sinatra's pocket at Pine Knob there). Some of that content could have been nice, since it's relatively unknown and unseen material. Patti Smith's classic "Jukebox Crucifix" piece is missing the original layout's gravestone photos of Buddy Holly, Hank Williams, and Hendrix — giving the piece less visual impact.

Most upsetting to me, however, are the "Backstage" pages, which feature all-new photo captions — because there is actually no indication that it is new material. And the captions aren't particularly funny, no better than the ones Blender and other pop-culture journals have tried to imitate in recent years. Photos of various CREEM staff members from different eras are scattered throughout these sections, but since there are no identifications included (with the exception of one photo), the whole thing is just kind of an inside joke and rather pointless.

My CREEM book would, for the most part, have had the pages exactly as they originally appeared in the publication (with perhaps only factual errors fixed). I'm not a fan of revisionism in any form — even if one courageous anonymous online poster and Dave Marsh himself have already accused me of "rewriting history" in the first part of this essay, although neither cited one valid example.

So there are things in the book that bug the fuck out of me that may not bother others. For instance, George Harrison was never actually on CREEM's cover. MT's own Jeffrey Morgan wasn't really CREEM's "Canadian Editor" because there was no such thing as a CREEM Canadian Editor (all the writers in the mag's masthead were listed as "Contributing Editors," beginning in the mid-'70s, but it was basically an honorary title). Despite claims made by other lensmen, the only "staff photographer" CREEM ever had was founding art director Charlie Auringer — and he'd stopped taking photos by the time I got there. And Kordosh swears that several aspects of Matheu's published memory of a chance meeting between them and Bob Dylan and George Harrison backstage at the Hollywood Palace just didn't happen as presented here.

All that said, I'm not sure that any book could really capture the CREEM spirit, aesthetic and magic— at least not in one volume. My CREEM book would have more words, less photos — and that could perhaps be just as bad. The bottom line is the book is out there; it's received mostly positive (if at times misinformed) reviews. It's reportedly selling well and that is what it is. It isn't the best representation of CREEM there could've been, but it's not really an embarrassing one, either. As coffee-table books go, it's better than many.


I can certainly understand and even identify with people wanting to preserve and protect their legacy, especially when that legacy is part of a grand thing. Hell, an article in this very paper last year about Matheu's association with J.J. Kramer, completely wrote DiMartino, Kordosh and me out of the story, while including a few names that barely wrote for the magazine. The three of us laughed it off, but it did sting a moment. Even Paul McCartney wanted Yoko Ono to allow him to take Lennon's names off the Beatles songs they didn't actually write together several years ago.

So I can certainly understand why Sue Whitall would be upset that the book lists her as "features editor," when she was actually the editor in charge. I'm not sure titles really matter in the extended long run, but Whitall has also argued that former staffer and Detroit Ramrod Mark J. Norton — who also wrote a memoir for the book — was never anything more than an editorial assistant ... when the truth is he was associate editor by the time I replaced him in that title, after my requisite three months as editorial assistant. So consistency is important on everybody's part.

On the other hand, many of the kids who saw those sold-out Stooges reunion shows all over the world these past several years have probably never even heard of CREEM magazine and have no idea the role the magazine played in that band's career and a lot of what is now just taken for granted in modern culture. As Dave Marsh said on that South By Southwest panel in 2000: "We changed the way people think. We changed the world." Maybe that should be enough. Or as someone else so succinctly put it: "CREEM was an outsider magazine. You don't start outsider magazines with a million dollars. Or if you do, it becomes MTV."

Bill Holdship is music editor of Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]