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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – October 1985 (Volume 17, Number 5)

The October 1985 issue of Creem is the final magazine published under the stewardship of Connie Kramer, the former wife of Creem founder Barry Kramer. There is an article in the UPI archives from August 20, 1985 titled “Creem Stops Publication.” In that piece, it is stated that circulation had dropped to 130,000 issues from 150,000 and that the “shutdown apparently came as a surprise to about 20 editorial full-time staffers and numerous contributors, who were unaware of the magazine’s financial problems.”

Strangely, on August 28, 1985, there was a lengthy article in the Chicago Tribune penned by Lauara Berman in which Creem was portrayed as having tremendous success at this time. In somewhat of a puff piece, Connie Kramer is described as someone who took over the magazine when it was in debt to the tune of $250,000 and increased circulation to “an all-time high of 210,000.” According to the article, the magazine was “making money for the first time in years.” Despite the theoretical profits described in the Tribune piece, it did note that Connie Kramer was considering selling the publication. Sometimes, I have heard, when an asset is for sale, the owner may tend to paint a rosier picture of that asset than exists in reality. I also recall an article from the “Village Voice” about the shutdown of Creem, which reported that many contributors were unhappy, due to not being paid for their published work.

In any event, Tom Petty, holding a guitar like a stoned lover, was featured on the cover of the October 1985 issue of Creem. Gary Graff interviewed the chain smoking rock star, who discussed breaking his hand by hitting the wall (“It’s taken that temperament right outta me, let me tell ya”), his battles with record companies, his need for a break after the 1983 tour, and working with David Stewart on “Don’t Come Around Here No More” (“The best thing that came out of it was that I got a really good friend out of the deal”). This is a solid, if somewhat short, cover story which doesn’t attempt to answer the question of whether Petty was in a holding pattern at this time or expanding his creative direction.

“Rock ‘n’ Roll News” reported that Hanoi Rocks had disbanded and Jefferson Starship had lost their “Jefferson.” Also, poor Ike Turner was busted for cocaine possession and Eddie Van Halen was shopping for a new lead singer.

It’s pretty funny seeing The Smiths in the “Creem Profiles,” looking like agitated teens forced into posing by a resented authority figure.


“Katrina & the Waves Doing Swimmingly,” by Iman Lababedi
“Tom Petty’s New Tales of the Old Soul,” by Gary Graff

“Howard Jones: Words of Wisdom, Moos of Peace,” by John Kordosh
“Sex and Schnapps and Rock ‘n’ Roll: Scorpions Shock Horror,” by Annenne Kaye

“Paul Young: U.K. Soul Man,” by Sylvie Simmons

Iman Lababedi interviewed Kimberley Rew and Katrina Leskanich of Katrina and the Waves. Rew’s involvement in the Soft Boys and his work with Katrina represents one of the more interesting movements away from punk rock during this era.

Howard Jones came across as somewhat of a well-meaning simpleton in his interview with John Kordosh. He bashed away at the education system and eating meat in a way that a teenager might do, having only criticisms and no solutions. When Kordosh mentioned the world might be a better place if Hitler had been killed in 1932, the response was, “No. Because that’s trying to make the universe perfect and it is perfect already.” I guess it was a perfect universe despite the education system and the dietary habits of humans.

Paul Young was considered noteworthy or photogenic enough to flank Tom Petty on this issue’s cover. Sylvie Simmons considered Young one of the better pop singers of his era. Young credited Paul Rodgers for namechecking blues artists that would become his biggest influences. Young likened himself as a vocal interpreter like Tom Jones and hoped to age gracefully like Tony Bennett. If Young ever had an interesting quote, he didn’t save it or recycle it for this discussion.

Quotable Quotes:

Jojo of the Mary Jane Girls on the single “In My House,” “It’s not any metaphor that I’m aware of. I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not about that at all.”

Kimberley Rew on the Soft Boys, “It was really Robyn Hitchcock’s business; it was his songs we were playing. I went through the pop star bit – drugs and groupies, it wasn’t much fun.”

Katrina Leskanich, “When are we going to have our photographs taken with Boy Howdy beer?”

Howard Jones, “I spent years going through a period of my life where I completely stripped myself down. I just took away my whole personality.”

Bill Holdship on the Stephen Davis book, “Hammer of the Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga,” “Even more than rock history, ‘Hammer of the Gods’ is a morality study of POWER and a perverse rock excess (on various levels) that was basically founded by Led Zeppelin and continues to haunt us in many mutated forms to this very day.”

Craig Zeller on Madonna’s “Into the Groove” single, “A cosmic experience. Happiness is a heated groove.”

Summary: An average issue of this era with accidental historical relevance.

Grade: B

Latest price on eBay: $7.95 to “Buy It Now.”

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