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Music

CREEM crop

Selected characters from the seminal music mag

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Published 1/16/2008

LESTER BANGS: Often called, even during his lifetime, "the greatest rock 'n' roll critic in the world." The native of Escondido, Calif., was a CREEM editor from 1971 through 1976 and is probably most responsible for the magazine's legendary status. He died from a Darvon overdose in 1982.

DAVE MARSH: Michigan native who became the second editor of CREEM in 1969, following founding editor Tony Reay's brief stint in the position. Went on to a successful career at Newsday and Rolling Stone, as well as authoring best-selling books and publishing his own Rock & Rap Confidential newsletter. Currently hosts a show on Sirius Radio and has been active in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee.

BARRY KRAMER: The founder of CREEM, he remained its publisher until his death from a nitrous oxide overdose in 1981. His ex-wife, Connie Kramer, ran the magazine for their young son, J.J., who inherited CREEM from his father at the age of 6.

CHARLIE AURINGER: CREEM's designer and photo editor following a very brief early stint by Robin Sommers. Many of Auringer's iconic early photos were featured in the magazine (as well as the new CREEM anthology book) and he basically set the magazine's visual style and tone. After CREEM's demise, he was Metro Times' art director for many years. He's currently art director at Lapeer's View magazine.

RICHARD "RIC" SIEGEL: One of Kramer's "hippie" friends, Siegel was one of the magazine's "founding fathers." He wrote and shot photos for the magazine in its early days, before becoming its circulation director and helping the magazine become a phenomenon on a national level. He left the magazine in 1985 and is currently webmaster at ommphotos.com, which archives Detroit music images.

ARNOLD LEVITT: New Jersey-born, L.A.-based businessman and former Larry Flynt financial manager who bought the magazine from Connie Kramer after it went into bankruptcy court in 1985, moving the magazine to Hollywood where he kept it afloat until 1988.

ROBERT MATHEU: Detroit native and longtime freelance rock photographer who licensed the name from Levitt in 2001 and bought it (with several business partners) in 2007. Late last year, he compiled a CREEM anthology book with editor Brian J. Bowe for HarperCollins publishers. He is currently being sued by two former business associates, J.J. Kramer (Barry's son, currently a NYC-based trademark attorney) and Chris Carter, an L.A.-based musician and DJ, over ownership of the brand.

SUSAN WHITALL: Joined the editorial department of CREEM after graduating from MSU and eventually became head editor (following Bangs' departure) — one of the first women to edit a national music publication — until her 1983 departure to The Detroit News, where she continues to write about music and culture. She is also the author of Women of Motown and is currently working on a book about Little Willie John.

BEN EDMONDS: A CREEM editor during the Bangs era, he would go on to a successful career in Los Angeles, including an A&R gig at Capitol Records and financing Iggy's post-Stooges Kill City album. He currently lives back in Detroit, where he writes and serves as MOJO magazine's U.S. editor.

JAAN UHESZKI: Detroit native who joined CREEM as the "mail room girl" (after working at the Grande Ballroom) before becoming one of its senior editors. She continued writing for the magazine, including a popular "Confessions of a Film Fox" column, through the '80s, though she may be best remembered for her CREEM KISS story in which she joined the band onstage in full makeup. Went on to numerous successful editorial gigs after moving to California and became known as an Internet music news maven, working for Rolling Stone Online and Addicted to Noise, among others.

JOHN MORTHLAND: A Rolling Stone editor who joined the staff of CREEM in the early '70s to bring some professionalism and structure to the editorial department. He went onto a career as a highly respected music writer, editor and historian, writing several books. He currently resides in Austin, Texas, where he's a contributing editor to Texas Monthly.

GREIL MARCUS: San Francisco-based rock critic who also began at Rolling Stone as that magazine's first record reviews editor (at $30 a week). He was the first editor to publish Lester Bangs, running one of his record reviews. Via his friendships with Bangs and Marsh, he began contributing to CREEM, where he was one of its most influential early writers. He's written numerous critically acclaimed books on music, culture and sociology.

ED WARD: A rock historian and another former Rolling Stone editor, Ward contributed to CREEM during its early days until the mid-'70s when Bangs left the magazine. A co-author of Rock of Ages: The Rolling Stone History of Rock & Roll as well as the author of a Mike Bloomfield bio, he was the Austin American-Statesman rock critic in the '80s. He currently lives in Berlin, where he contributes to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and numerous music magazines, as well as serving as NPR's rock commentator.

BILLY ALTMAN: A NYC native, Altman went through a special majors program and earned a bachelor's degree in "rock 'n' roll" at State University of New York at Buffalo where he published an early zine called PUNK in 1973. A freelancer for CREEM, he became record reviews and New York editor after his friend Lester Bangs' 1976 departure, a position he maintained for a little more than a decade. A successful freelancer, he is also the author of a biography of humorist Robert Benchley.

RICK JOHNSON: A writer based in Macomb, Ill., who joined the CREEM editorial staff for several years in the mid-'80s. Johnson became well known for his zany and comical writing style, beginning in the '70s under Whitall. He was regularly voted favorite critic in the magazine's annual readers' poll during the years following Bangs' departure. He died in April 2006 from a heart attack at age 55. An anthology of his work, Tin Cans, Squeems and Thudpies, was published late last year.

DAVE DIMARTINO: Hired by Whitall as an editorial assistant while in grad school at MSU, the Miami, Fla., native worked his way up the editorial chain, becoming the magazine's head editor upon Whitall's 1983 departure. He left CREEM to become Billboard magazine's L.A. bureau chief in 1986. He's currently the executive editor of Yahoo! Music, following editorial stints at Entertainment Weekly and Musician magazine.

JOHN KORDOSH: Detroit native (and former bass player in the popular Motor City Mutants under the moniker John Amore), the Dean Martin fan became one of CREEM's most popular writers in the '80s due to his sardonic wit and hilarious pieces. He joined the editorial staff in the mid-'80s and remained an editor almost until the magazine folded in 1988 after its move to Los Angeles. For the most part, he left the world of music journalism and currently works as a chemist for a major paint manufacturer, probably the only former CREEMster to have two patents in his name.

BILL HOLDSHIP: A CREEM editor from 1981 to 1987 — and the guy who wrote the accompanying piece. He and Kordosh were listed as co-editors during the mag's final days, with the latter concentrating more on CREEM Metal and Holdship concentrating on CREEM proper. He went on to editorial gigs at Radio & Records, Variety, BAM, New Times LA and HITS, as well as contributing to SPIN, MOJO, The L.A. Times and NME, among numerous other publications, before returning to Detroit and the Metro Times last summer.

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