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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – November 1982 (Volume 14, Number 6)

John Cougar, sporting a t-shirt with the question “Why Do You Think They Call It Dope, Anyway?,” was featured on the cover of the November 1982 issue of Creem. The cover concept was “Creem’s 1982 Drug Update.” This story was an update of the September 1974 guide to street drugs penned by Lester Bangs. Rick Johnson penned this piece, looking at the history and effects of LSD, cocaine, pot, amphetamines, etc. The overall tone was less sensational – this article is like a rock ‘n’ roll PSA, with anti-drug quotes, or pleas for moderation, from artists like Frank Zappa and Stiv Bators, among others. My favorite Johnson-ism, “There are more myths about bong-brain than anything since the debate over the contents of Rod Stewart’s tummy.”

In the “Mail” section, one reader commented that the band Asia “rates somewhere between Neil Young’s Block party and Rick Johnson’s last blind date.” The Editorial reply, “ALL of Rick Johnson’s dates have been blind.”

In “Rock ‘n’ Roll News,” the Who announced that their 1982 tour would be their last. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. In more serious news, the death of Joe Tex was reported. Also, “Managing Editor” Dave DiMartino tied the knot and Suzi Quatro reminisced about a 1975 offer from Elvis to move into Graceland with him.


“Letter Bomb for Ted Baxter: Gang of Four Out of Uniform,” by Laura Fissinger

“Only In it for the Money? Frank & Moon Zappa Go AM,” by Michael Goldberg

“Pete Townshend Stops Hurting People; Stops Hurting Himself: Action for the 80s,” by Chris Salewicz

“Joe Cocker Visits My Hometown! Wow!,” by John Kordosh

The Gang of Four were in good spirits, touring in support of their “Song of the Free” album. Drummer Hugo Burnham felt the record had the spirit of their live shows but was more accessible to a mainstream audience than previous efforts. Jon King on the band’s direction, “You’ve GOT to get the intellectual substance into a record. And the physical energy. AND the emotion.”

Frank Zappa was enjoying his only Top 40 success, courtesy of his 14-year-old daughter Moon Zappa who made fun of S&M and spoiled teen culture in “Valley Girl.” Frank, “Who would have thought in their WILDEST DREAMS that a record like that would drive people CRAZY?” Author Michael Golberg and Frank engaged in a lengthy conversation about Zappa’s relationship to commercial music and the price paid for being “different.” Zappa, “There was never a choice. I mean I’ve always done the same kind of stuff. I’ve written songs about what appealed to me or what disgusted me.”

In a very lengthy interview, Pete Townshend discussed going to drug/alcohol rehab, namechecked the Clash as a band that “allows you to face up to your problems and then to dance all over them,” fantasized about screaming into Margaret Thatcher’s face, and pontificated about the power of prayer. Townshend, perhaps revealing why the Who still tours today, also had to negotiate his way out of potential bankruptcy during this timeframe.

John Kordosh had a casual chat with Joe Cocker, who discussed meeting the Beatles, which was interesting, and the recording of his 1982 “Sheffield Steel” album, which wasn’t.

Quotable Quotes:

Jon King of Gang of Four, “If you propose that rock ‘n’ roll is about rebellion, you know, that kind of Rolling Stones thing, obviously that’s now what REO, Aerosmith and those bands are about.”

Frank Zappa, “There’s definitely an anti-information syndrome as far as radio is concerned. No real content is ever allowed on the airwaves anyplace.”

Moon Zappa, “People walk around me and stare. It’s really bizarre. I hate being stared at.”

Pete Townshend, “What kind of world are our kids going to be going out into? Because in a way we’ve neglected ALL our responsibilities. We’ve done NOTHING. And that’s got to alter.”

Joe Cocker, “CREEM? Isn’t that the one with all the silly captions? You don’t write for ‘Circus,’ do you?” John Kordosh, “No, I write for the silly one.”

John Kordosh, “How’s Joe (Cocker) Looking Anyway?: Well, his hair – what’s left of it – is frazzled and thin. He’s got a decent paunch. While I interviewed him, he was barefoot and wearing a pair of lawn-green pants that were too short to have ever been in style, unless he used to be in Slade and I missed it. Despite the heat, he was wearing a sweater that was truly and extremely ugly. What I mean to say is that he’s looking OK to me.”

Rick Johnson, “The classic symptom of longtime cocaine abuse is called formication psychosis, where the user seriously believes that snakes, insects, squids, mudpuppies or members of Fear are riding skateboards just beneath the skin. Papa John Phillip’s description of this is particularly striking. He went to half a dozen skin specialists and begged them to get rid of the bugs crawling all over him. The doc would say ‘what bugs?’ and John would storm out of the office hollering ‘liar!’”

Robert Hull, “What we hear in the Go-Go’s music, then, is the joyful celebration of freedom – the awareness that women in rock ‘n’ roll now can pretty much do as they damn well please. If what you hear in the band’s music is not toughness or bitterness – if what you hear is only ‘cute’ or ‘bubbly’ – then you’re not listening.”

Rick Johnson on Robert Plant’s “Pictures at Eleven” album, “The band is real solid, the lyrics contain ‘got the blues’ and ‘baby baby’ in sufficient quantity and ‘House’ Plant’s production is unobtrusive. He doesn’t blow his nose in your waffles.”

Summary: Rick Johnson, who I believe did some personal research on the subject, was the perfect choice to write about the negative issues regarding drugs and alcohol with no preachy sentiment.

Grade: A-

Latest price on eBay: $9.99 to “Buy It Now.”

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