Rock Hall Shows Film About Detroit’s Creem Magazine

Wed 5/29 @ 7PM

The Rock Hall’s spring film series continues with the new documentary Boy Howdy: The Story of Creem Magazine, telling the story of the publication that probably came closest to capturing the rowdy, freewheeling spirit that was rock & roll in the late 60s and 70s.

Part of that was undoubtedly due to the fact that it was based in Detroit and started by Detroiters at the time when bands like the Stooges, SRC, Frut and the MC5 roamed the earth. It was therefore disconnected from the east/west coast tastemakers who created rules about who mattered and who didn’t, and it opened the door to writers, artists and photographers whose tastes, writing styles or connections left them outside that rock journalism establishment.

Creem published copious work in the gonzo style by writers like Lester Bangs and Cleveland’s Peter Laughner, who tried to imitate him, as well as more conventional writers at the beginning of their careers, such as Dave Marsh. It gave breaks to young writers and photographers who would never been able to crack the closed loop of Rolling Stone. It also had noticeably more women on its staff, including writer Jaan Uhelski, one of the producers of Boy Howdy.

Creem was founded by Barry Kramer in 1969. It got its name from its short-lived first editor Tony Reay, who surfaced briefly in Cleveland in the spring of 1971 to edit Scene, which had been founded the previous year. Within a single week he almost caused the now almost 50-year-old publication to go out of business, with wild accusations about people in the local rock & roll business.

Throughout the 70s, Creem heavily covered the new wave, glitter, power pop and punk scenes and later the nascent college rock scene led by bands such as R.E.M. Kramer died in the early ’80s (as did Bangs, who left the magazine in 1976). By the late 80s, after moving to Los Angeles, the magazine was heavily focused on cranking out heavy metal one-shots. By the end of the decade, it was for all practical purposes dead, although attempts were made to revive it. But those were different times.

In addition to Uhelski, the film’s produces include Barry Kramer’s son J.J. and former Clevelander Margaret Saadi, who is married to MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer.

The screening at the Rock Hall is $55.50, free for members.


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