If you’re anything like me, just the name Creed makes your ass pucker. The word conjures thoughts of history’s worst band complete with the sound of Scott Stapp gargling his own balls through a microphone. Just in case you want to dispute the fact, I can tell you that it’s scientifically proven. Creed is, empirically and by virtue of testing in a controlled environment with adjustments made for outlying variables, classifiable as the most terrible and putrescent musical act of this or any other time.
I’d rather go to a children’s recital where all the performers suddenly get food poisoning all at once.
But I admit, this is a pretty big tangent. I never miss a chance to shit on Creed but this has nothing to do with them. This is about a far better and more interesting Creed.
This is about Creed from the hit NBC series The Office. That guy, believe it or not, was a rock star. Best known to modern audiences for playing a homeless, mung-bean eating miscreant named Creed Bratton, the real Creed Bratton is actually a veteran of ‘60s hit machine, The Grass Roots.
Creed first came into contact with his future bandmates while working as a globetrotting street musician. Bratton met Warren Entner at a folk festival in Israel in 1965. They returned to the U.S. together and began performing under the name the 13th Floor (not to be confused with the 13th Floor Elevators).
They rounded out the band with two additional members, changed their name and procured a contract with Dunhill Records (because it was just that easy back in the day).
As a singer and guitarist for The Grass Roots, Creed (born William Schneider) served during the band’s most successful period. Backed by the songwriting duo of P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri, the Grass Roots drew heavily on the sounds of the British Invasion to float 21 charting singles and more than 20 million in album sales.
The Grass Roots rose to visibility on the strength of their Summer of Love anthem, “Let’s Live for Today.” The hit featured prominently in their performance at the Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival which preceded the Monterey Pop Festival by mere days and, in doing so, holds title as the very first modern rock and roll festival.
One year later, “Midnight Confessions” reached #5 on the charts and gave the Grass Roots their biggest hit yet.
This would also mark the end of Creed Bratton’s trip with the band. Indeed, the inspiration for his character on The Office may well be couched in Creed’s dicey real life reputation. The guitarist found himself increasingly frustrated with the level of songwriting and production control being imposed upon the band (a familiar story via The Monkees and countless other studio-prop bands of the late ’60s). Thus, when he performed “slightly inebriated” during a ‘disastrous’ performance at The Fillmore East, Sloan and Barri were all too happy to dismiss him from the band.
It was at this point that Creed began to pursue work as an actor. The next thirty years are marked by minor roles in film and television. His most prominent role was as “Carnival Ticket Taker” in Mask, a 1985 Eric Stoltz movie about a horribly deformed person named Cher.
Twenty years later, Creed would score the role for which he is best recognized today. As Creed Bratton, he played a fictionalized version of himself who, by his own recall, had been both a member and leader of various cults, had stolen LSD from the U.S. military and was more than likely responsible for at least one murder. After a 9-year run on the show, the character was led away in handcuffs, ultimately made to pay for his various crimes against humanity.
Today, the real Creed Bratton is a free man who tours and records as a solo performer.