Creed is an American rock band, formed in 1995 in Tallahassee, Florida. The band consists of lead vocalist Scott Stapp, guitarist and vocalist Mark Tremonti, bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips. Creed released two studio albums, My Own Prison in 1997 and Human Clay in 1999, before Marshall left the band in 2000 to be replaced by touring bassist Brett Hestla. The band's third record, Weathered, was released in 2001 with Mark Tremonti handling bass before the band disbanded in 2004 due to increasing tension between members. Tremonti, Phillips and Marshall went on to found Alter Bridge while Stapp followed a solo career. After years of speculation, Creed reunited in 2009 for a tour and new album called Full Circle, and in early 2012 the band reconvened to tour and work on a fifth album.
Becoming popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the band released three consecutive multi-platinum albums, one of which has been certified diamond and has sold over 28 million records in the United States, and over 40 million albums worldwide, becoming the ninth best-selling artist of the 2000s. Creed is often recognized as one of the prominent acts of the post-grunge movement of the late 1990s and early 2000s and is one of the most commercially successful rock bands of all time. Billboard ranked Creed as the 18th best artist of the 2000s.
Early years (1993–1996)
Creed's origins lie in 1993 in Tallahassee, Florida. Founding members vocalist Scott Stapp and guitarist Mark Tremonti had been classmates in high school and friends at Florida State University. Upon reuniting, Stapp and Tremonti realized that they had a mutual love for writing music and performing. After several discussions and times spent writing songs, many of which addressed themes of Christian theology and spirituality due to Stapp's religious background as the stepson of a Pentecostal minister, the duo held auditions which led to the recruitment of bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips to complete the quartet. Originally known as Naked Toddler, the band changed its name to Creed at Marshall's suggestion, after a band Marshall had previously played for called Maddox Creed. These four musicians had already written and collaborated four of the songs that would go on to become tracks on Creed's chart-topping debut album, My Own Prison. The band found local success and began to play shows in bars and small venues throughout Tallahassee.
My Own Prison and rise to fame (1997–1998)
With a new name, a new sound and several new songs written, Creed began playing locally. Initially struggling to secure gigs in their hometown because at that time no one wanted to book rock bands, they resorted to playing unlikely music venues such as gay bars and family restaurants like T.G.I. Friday's. Wanting "a real show at a club", they managed to convince the owner of a bar in Tallahassee to book them by claiming that they could guarantee an audience of 200 people. Owner and manager Jeff Hanson later told HitQuarters that the band had played mostly cover versions, but two original songs stood out and impressed the manager so much that he promptly signed them to his management and promotions company and set about developing their act. For their first recordings he matched the band up with John Kurzweg, a producer and friend of Hanson's who he felt was an appropriate fit. Together they recorded their debut album for $6,000, which was funded by Hanson. The album, titled My Own Prison, was initially self-released on their own label, Blue Collar Records, selling 6,000 copies throughout the state of Florida.
My Own Prison had been circulating around the music industry for a while when, in May 1997, Diana Meltzer from Wind-Up Records heard the album for the first time and decided almost immediately that she wanted to sign them to the label. She later said that she heard "an arena band". Within the same week, Meltzer, together with Wind-up president Steve Lerner, CEO Alan Meltzer, and A&R representative Joel Mark, flew to Tallahassee to see Creed perform live and decide for certain whether to offer them a contract. "Seeing the energy in the room when Scott Stapp stepped up to the mike, and hearing his powerful voice fill the room, alongside Mark Tremonti’s now legendary guitar riffs and that big Creed anthemic rock sound, was all I needed," she told HitQuarters. According to Hanson, before Wind-up signed Creed, fourteen labels had already passed on the band, and at one point he was tempted to take charge of them himself.
My Own Prison was remixed, given a more radio-friendly sound, and re-released by Wind-up Records. Four singles were released from the album: "My Own Prison", "Torn", "What's This Life For", and "One". Each of these songs reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, making Creed the first band to accomplish such a feat with a debut album. With little MTV exposure, media coverage, or label support, My Own Prison sold extremely well, moving over six million copies and going six times platinum. Creed continued to top year-end charts and was recognized as the Rock Artist of the Year at the 1998 Billboard Music Awards. My Own Prison was also the highest-selling heavy music record of 1998 on Nielsen SoundScan's Hard Music chart. The band's hit song "My Own Prison" was also featured as a live performance on the charity album Live in the X Lounge. The band covered Alice Cooper's song "I'm Eighteen" for The Faculty soundtrack in 1998.
Critical reception toward My Own Prison was mostly favorable. Stephen Thomas Erlewine from Allmusic gave it four out of five stars and said that Creed "work well within their boundaries" despite "basically [falling] into the category of post-Seattle bands who temper their grunge with a dose of Live earnestness." The album lyrically deals with themes of questioning and struggling with faith and spirituality. Because of this, some mistakenly interpreted Creed to be a Christian rock band. In response, bassist Brian Marshall said that Stapp's use of religious imagery "doesn't mean we're religious. He uses it as a metaphor. That's different. He uses the symbolism, but that doesn't mean we're Christian rock." Stapp said that his lyrics were spiritual but not religious, emphasizing the difference between the two: "For me, religion was about 'what not to do.' Spirituality opens you up, sets you free."
Human Clay and Marshall's departure (1998–2000)
With money made from My Own Prison, the band started to write for their second album, Human Clay. The album's first single, "Higher," spent a record-breaking 17 weeks on the top of the rock radio charts. In 2009, "Higher" was ranked as the 95th greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1. The album was released in 1999, when My Own Prison was still doing reasonably well. However, Human Clay was an instant and overwhelming success debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and selling over ten million copies over the next two years, allowing it to become one of the few rock albums to be certified diamond by the RIAA. The album was the band's first to hit No. 1 in the U.S., where it debuted with first week sales of 315,000, and stayed on top for two weeks. After the album's release, follow-up singles were released: "With Arms Wide Open," "What If," and "Are You Ready." The first three of those topped radio charts, giving Creed a total of seven chart-topping singles. The band would later go on to win their first, and to date only, Grammy Award for "With Arms Wide Open" for Best Rock Song in 2001.
Reviews for Human Clay were largely positive. Stephen Thomas Erlewine from Allmusic said that the record "does make it clear that there is an audience for post-grunge hard rock, as long as it's delivered without pretension and as long as it meets the audience's desire for straight-ahead, hard-hitting music." The lyrical content of Human Clay is a slight departure from that of My Own Prison, touching on subjects such as lucid dreaming ("Higher") and fatherhood ("With Arms Wide Open"), as well as darker, more violent themes such as sexual abuse ("Wash Away Those Years") and hostility ("What If").
During the summer of 2000, bassist Brian Marshall criticized Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder in a radio interview with KNDD in June 2000, claiming that Scott Stapp is a better songwriter, and criticized Pearl Jam's recent albums for "having songs without hooks." Stapp later distanced the rest of the band from Marshall's comments and stated, "Yes, we get tired of the PJ question, but there is no excuse for the arrogance and stupidity [of Marshall]. I ask you all not to judge Creed as a band, because the statements made were not the band's feelings, they were Brian's. I'm sorry if Brian offended anyone, and he has already apologized for his comments." Marshall left Creed "on friendly terms" soon after the controversy and formed a new band called Grand Luxx with his old Mattox Creed band mates. Marshall was temporarily replaced by touring bassist Brett Hestla of Virgos Merlot. Stapp stated Marshall's leaving was his choice and was unrelated to the Pearl Jam comments.
Weathered and break-up (2001–2004)
Creed worked on their third album for most of 2001, with Tremonti choosing to play bass on the record himself instead of Hestla to "[preserve] the band's initial core," although Hestla remained in Creed's touring lineup. Weathered was released on November 20, 2001. Six singles were released from the album: "My Sacrifice" (which earned the band a nomination for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 2003), "One Last Breath, "Hide", "Don't Stop Dancing", "Weathered" and "Bullets." The album was a commercial bestseller and was certified platinum six times over and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200. It remained at that spot for eight weeks, a record which Creed notably shares with The Beatles. The tour to promote Weathered was met with considerable controversy; it was delayed in April 2002 when Stapp suffered a concussion and vertebrae damage after being involved in a car accident. As a result, in addition to his growing addiction to alcohol, he became addicted to Percocet and began taking a host of other medications while on tour, including steroids and Xanax.
This, along with other events, led to a considerably controversial concert on December 29, 2002 at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois, which ultimately led to the band's disunion. Four disappointed concertgoers filed a lawsuit against the band, claiming that Scott Stapp "was so intoxicated and/or medicated that he was unable to sing the lyrics of a single Creed song." Creed later issued an apology on Stapp's behalf, although Stapp would later deny the claims. Ultimately, the case was dismissed. Stapp later confirmed that he was intoxicated during the concert, but was not incoherent.
After remaining inactive for over a year, it was announced in June 2004 that Creed had disbanded. Tremonti cited tensions between Stapp and the rest of the band as the reasoning. He said that the relationship with Stapp had become so strained that the creative juices were no longer flowing. Almost simultaneous with the announcement of Creed's break-up, Stapp opted for a solo career. On November 22, 2004, Wind-up Records released Creed's Greatest Hits, after which Stapp released his debut solo album The Great Divide in 2005 with Roadrunner Records recording artist Goneblind. Meanwhile, Tremonti and Phillips had reunited with Marshall to form a new band, called Alter Bridge with singer Myles Kennedy, formerly of The Mayfield Four and the current frontman of Slash's latest project. Alter Bridge, who continues to tour and record today, has released three studio albums: One Day Remains (2004), Blackbird (2007), and AB III (2010).
Reunion and Full Circle (2009–2010)
From 2004 onward, Tremonti promised that Creed would never reform. However, on April 27, 2009, Creed's website announced that the band had reunited for a new tour and plans for a new album. According to Tremonti, "We're all very excited to reconnect with our fans and each other after seven long years." He later added that being in Creed again was "the last thing [he] expected." Phillips also stated: "Our career as Creed came to a very abrupt and unforeseen ending. After reflecting on some of the greatest personal and professional moments of our lives, we've come to realize that we are still very capable of continuing that career and our friendship on a grander scale than ever before." In an interview for People magazine, Stapp elaborated on the reunion, saying, "We never felt like we weren't together. We're not looking at this as a reunion. It's more of a rebirth."
In June, Creed performed with Marshall on bass for the first time in nine years on Sessions@AOL, showing the band playing four of their hits. In addition, the band performed live on Fox & Friends on June 26, 2009. Creed's reunion tour, with touring guitarist Eric Friedman, kicked off on August 6, 2009 and concluded on October 20. Full Circle, Creed's first album in eight years, came out on October 27, 2009. Stapp elaborated on the title, which is also the name of a track to appear on the album: "It really defines and articulates, melody-wise and lyrically, what’s happened with us. We've come full circle and it's a great place to be." The first single from Full Circle, "Overcome," was posted on the band's official website on August 19, the same day the radio premiere started along with its release as a digital download on August 25. The second single, "Rain," was released to radio stations on September 23 and became available on October 6 as another digital download. On September 25, 2009, Creed performed a concert in Houston, Texas that was recorded, broadcast via a live internet stream, and released on December 8, 2010, as a concert film titled Creed Live, the band's first live recording. The performance broke four world records, including the world record for the most amount of cameras used at a live music event (239). The previous holder of this record was Justin Timberlake. The performance also featured the very first usage of the "big freeze" technology, popularized by The Matrix, in a concert environment. The band's first live recording, the record-breaking concert film titled Creed Live, was released on December 8, 2009. Drummer Scott Phillips also confirmed that Full Circle will not be the band's final album. The same announcement confirmed that Creed was to go on a world tour in support of Full Circle between April and September 2010, starting with an Australia/New Zealand tour, followed by South America, Europe, and North America. The tour was called The 20-10 Tour. Tickets for the tour were ten and twenty dollars to stand up against rising concert ticket prices. The first 2,010 tickets purchased for every concert did not include any service fees. Due to high ticket sales, Creed was put in high numbered areas. Skillet joined the tour as main support.
Creed reconvened in early 2012 to begin work on their upcoming fifth studio album. A tour was also announced where the band would perform their first two albums, My Own Prison and Human Clay, from front to back. This tour kicked off with two shows on April 12 and 13, 2012, at the Chicago Theatre in Chicago, Illinois, with the band performing My Own Prison the first night and Human Clay the second. They also toured in South America and Indonesia. It was announced that lead singer Scott Stapp and lead guitarist Mark Tremonti would enter the studio to start recording new songs in June, but it is not known whether this led anywhere, as further news has yet to surface as of March 2013. Alter Bridge, of which Tremonti is a member as well as Marshall and Phillips, later announced that its fourth studio album is slated to be released in 2013 putting the next Creed album on indefinite hold.
Creed's music is generally considered to be rock. According to Rolling Stone magazine, Scott Stapp's vocals have been influenced by Jim Morrison of The Doors. Andrew Leahey and Steve Huey of Allmusic describe Creed's music as hard rock and post-grunge.
Creed is sometimes labeled a Christian rock band due to the fact that their first three albums focus on questions of faith, Christianity, and eternity. The band was never signed to a contemporary Christian music label, nor did it perform in Christian music venues or get any widespread regular play on Christian radio. However, the band's name itself refers to the religious concept of a creed. Also, themes within their musical titles such as "My Own Prison," "Higher," "My Sacrifice," "What's This Life For," "With Arms Wide Open," and "One Last Breath" contain allusion to Christian theology, though it has not been confirmed that the songs were meant to be Christian songs. Band members have stated that while they may be Christians, the band as a whole is not. Bassist Brian Marshall, who named the band, said that singer Scott Stapp uses spiritual imagery as a metaphor.
Reception and criticism
Creed was one of the most commercially successful rock bands of the late 1990s and early 2000s, having sold an estimated 53 million records worldwide. Their first three studio albums, My Own Prison, Human Clay, and Weathered, have all gone multi-platinum in the United States, selling 6 million, 11 million, and 6 million copies respectively. The band also won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Song for the song "With Arms Wide Open" in 2001. However, in spite of this enormous commercial success, Creed was poorly received by professional critics, such as Robert Christgau. Although Jonah Weiner of Slate has tried to make the case that the band was "seriously underrated," that "most people hate Creed’s combination of overwrought power-balladry and Christian-infused testosterone." However, the band's live shows from throughout their career have been critically acclaimed. In 2011, Billboard ranked Creed as the 18th best artist of the 2000s.
Awards and Nominations
American Music Awards
MTV Video Music Awards
On September 25, 2009, Creed performed a concert in Houston, Texas that was recorded, broadcast via a live internet stream, and released on December 8, 2010, as a concert film titled Creed Live, the band's first live recording. The performance broke four world records, including the world record for the most cameras used at a live music event (239). The previous holder of this record was Justin Timberlake. The performance also featured the very first usage of the "big freeze" technology, popularized by The Matrix, in a concert environment.
- My Own Prison (1997)
- Human Clay (1999)
- Weathered (2001)
- Full Circle (2009)
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Image from Discogs