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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – January 1984 (Volume 15, Number 8)

John Cougar, who was still in his period of transition to John Mellencamp, struck a somewhat pugnacious pose on the cover of the January 1984 issue of Creem. Bill Holdship went to the dazzling town of Bloomington, Indiana to interview Cougar, who remained a nice guy in Holdship’s assessment. Cougar/Mellencamp sounded like a different man than in his previous interviews; there’s no way the earlier version of the Coug would have described the ‘American Dream” as “propaganda.” Mellencamp seemed like a guy who was successfully balancing his life, between being a small-town Indiana guy and a multi-platinum selling rock star. Having reached the success he had always wanted, he also sounded like he was ready to push some artistic boundaries. 

Ann Mario Fazio joined the staff as the team’s “Editorial Assistant.” For those keeping score, Dave DiMartino was “Editor-in-Chief,” Bill Holdship was “Senior Editor,” and “Ranger” Rick Johnson was “Associate Editor” during this timeframe. 

In the “Mail” section, someone named “Chickie Scott Bobrowich” complained about a recent Rick Johnson article. I mention this only to fulfill my urge to type Chickie Scott Bobrowich. 

In “Rock ‘n’ Roll News,” Peter Wolf’s departure from the J. Geils Band was reported. Dave Davies had also reportedly left the Kinks, but that turned into a short-term power play. (Dave and drummer Mick Avory were not best friends and Mick soon thereafter left the band).  

Motley Crue’s fame had risen to the point where Vince Neil was featured in “Stars Cars,” looking approximately two hundred pounds lighter than he would appear later in his career. 


“Tales of America’s Video FIXXation,” by Kevin Knapp 

“Maybe It Was My Big Mouth, Carly Simon: Free, White, & Pushing 40,” by Nick Toshes 

“Eddy Grant Does It California Style,” by RJ Smith 

“John Cougar, Rock ‘Star’? Pink Houses in the Midwest,” by Bill Holdship 

“Q & A with Y & T: It Only Figures,” by Sylvie Simmons 

“Animals’ Third Invasion: Eric Burdon, Charmer?,” by Richard Riegel 

“Growing Up ‘Normal’ with Altered Images,” by Richard Grabel 

Carly Simon and Nick Toshes both seemed much more interested in discussing Carly’s sex appeal (“I’ve always felt a strong sexuality”) more than her music. The most Creem like question: “Were you really ugly when you were young?” 

Eddy Grant was finding fame in the U.S. with “Electric Avenue,” leading to a fine feature with future James Brown and Chuck Berry biographer RJ Smith. Smith explained how hard-earned Grant’s success was with a look at his history with the 1960’s English band The Equals and his solo career. 

Sylvie Simmons interviewed Dave Meniketti of Y & T, who never had the breakthrough success they desperately wanted in the U.S. This is one of those pieces that’s much more about potential commercial success than it is about music.  

Richard Riegel interviewed the Animals, who were doing the reunion tour/album routine during this era. Riegel’s personal rock ‘n’ roll flame had been lit by their version of “House of the Rising Sun” in 1964, so the interview was a significant event for him. Riegel had a positive interaction with Eric Burdon and was impressed by their live show. However, he was much more anguished by Alan Price’s rudeness, including Price accusing him of beating his wife, than is conveyed in this piece. 

Quotable Quotes:   

Nick Tosches, describing a New York Post item to Carly Simon, “Yeah, made you sound like a real slut.” 

Carly Simon on a recent video, “This is the unedited version. It makes it look like I enjoy being raped.” Nick Tosches, “Do you?” Carly, “Un, no comment.” 

RJ Smith on Eddy Grant, “For nearly two decades he’s been gnawing away at the music business like a termite in a woodshed. It got him somewhere.” 

Eddy Grant, “So many of the guitar players were morons. I thought, ‘I could do THAT’.” 

Steve Wynn, “I think John Cougar is the best spokesman of our time.” 

John Cougar, “Lou Reed sent us a song to use on Mitch Ryder’s record, but we couldn’t because it was too weird. It was about a guy who kills his girlfriend because she’s fucking around on him. Wasn’t right for Mitch, we didn’t think.” 

John Mendelssohn on Daryl Hall, “He might be the world’s blandest soul singer, but he’s never not had terrific, modish hair.” 

Summary: Bill Holdship caught Cougar/Mellencamp at one of the most interesting times in his career, as he was moving from sleazy rocker to Heartland spokesperson. 

Grade: B+ 

Latest price on eBay: $8.99 to “Buy It Now.” 

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