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In 2014, the Birmingham Museum featured a large display devoted to Creem Magazine as part of its Sounds of Birmingham: A Community of Music exhibition. "America's Only Rock 'n' Roll Magazine," as Creem called itself, was published from offices in downtown Birmingham from 1973-1986. It was second in circulation only to Rolling Stone, and is noted for its bold gonzo style of rock journalism, especially associated with legendary rock critic Lester Bangs. Creem launched the careers of many other famous and talented writers and photographers, and was a significant force in American music culture during its heyday in the 1970s and early 1980s.
Despite the historic and cultural importance of the magazine, our exhibit was the first in-depth curated presentation of Creem in a museum setting. We worked with former Creem staff and conducted additional research to help tell the magazine's unique story. The exhibit attracted attention from all over the country, and generated two reunions (one of which was videotaped in oral history format) of former Creem editors and photographers. It also resulted in the donation of the most significant collection of Creem materials in any public institution--the personal collection of Charlie Auringer, longtime Art Director at Creem from 1969-1986.
The Charlie Auringer Collection consists of photographs and snapshots, negatives, slides, pre- and post-production art, layouts, corporate documents, newspaper and trade publication clippings and other ephemera, merchandising items, books, and dozens of magazine issues. In addition, the museum has acquired 74 additional magazine issues, for a current total of 108. Other photographs, memorabilia, and Creem-related historical materials continue to be donated to our permanent collection, helping to build a more extensive archives. (Photo, right; Art Director Charlie Auringer at the Creem Offices, c. 1976)
The goal of the Birmingham Museum is to make these materials accessible to the public electronically as well as physically. The collection is currently being processed, but check back to get additional information on our progress. You can reach the museum Tuesday through Friday at 248-530-1928.New Documentary by Scott Crawford, "Boy Howdy: The Story of Creem Magazine" Features Content from Birmingham Museum
For his just-released documentary about the iconic 1970s rock magazine, Scott Crawford interviewed former Creem staff right here at the Birmingham Museum. The former Creem art and writing staff came to celebrate the installation of the Charlie Auringer Reading Room in June of 2017. Crawford and his film crew used the opportunity to interview several of the former staff, including writer/editor Susan Whitall and J.J. Kramer, son of Creem founder Barry Kramer.
The documentary,"Boy Howdy: The Story of Creem Magazine" was screened in various venues around the Motor City in 2018. If you missed it, you can find it online. If you check it out, look for settings around the Birmingham Museum in the background (such as our wood-paneled library) and B-roll of our permanent CREEM exhibit and reading room. Oh, and if you are especially sharp-eyed, you may notice a certain period typewriter with an iconic logo from our exhibit that was used for the film poster and promotional materials! (Our support of the project included a generous donation from the Friends of the Birmingham Museum to support the crowd-funding for the start-up costs of the film. )
More Creem at the Birmingham Museum
- The Birmingham Museum has completed the installation of the Charlie Auringer Reading Room. Charlie Auringer (rock photographer and long time art director from CREEM's inception in 1969 to 1986) has donated his collection of magazine issues, objects, memorabilia, and other CREEM documents to our museum, making it the most important collection of CREEM available to the public. (Auringer is pictured here seated at the exhibit typewriter with J.J. Kramer, son of CREEM co-founder Barry Kramer.)
- Visitors can immerse themselves in a reconstructed CREEM-style office with interactive IBM Selectric typewriter (just like in CREEM's editorial offices), surrounded by loads of original artifacts.
- Complete access to fully digitized complete run of CREEM issues is available at our study station in the exhibit
- (Watch a YouTube interview with Auringer by BackstageGallery.com about his work and days at the magazine.)
- Check out our online .pdf Finding Aid for our Charlie Auringer Collection of corporate papers, clippings, photos, graphic art and more. Boy, Howdy!
Interest in Creem has been on the upswing, from researchers to documentary filmmakers. Check out the links below for two recent audio interviews.
Former Creem writers/editors Susan Whitall and Bill Holdship were featured on WDET-FM's Ann Delisi Essential Music program. In this 15+ minute interview, the two talk about what it was like behind the scenes at Creem, and why it is an important part of rock history. Listen to the interview with Ann Delisi (by permission of WDET-FM and the Ann Delisi Essential Music program).
Michigan Public Radio's Stateside with Cynthia Canty featured an interview with former Creem editor Susan Whitall and Birmingham Museum Director Leslie Pielack regarding Creem's impact on the American rock music scene and some of Ms. Whitall's experiences with the bands, the fans, and the legendary staff. Listen to the interview.