When you think of the band Creed, you may think about a band that is essential in your classic rock playlist, or you may just wrinkle your nose and move on, but not before thinking – what ever happened to Creed? Let’s start at the beginning.
The American rock band was formed in Tallahassee, Florida, circa 1994. For almost the entirety of its existence, Creed consisted of lead vocalist Scott Stapp, guitarist and vocalist Mark Tremonti, bassist Brian Marshall, and drummer Scott Phillips.
Founding members Scott Stapp and guitarist Mark Tremonti were classmates in high school and friends at Florida State University. The two quickly realized they had a mutual love of writing music and performing it; with an enthusiasm that only boys in college can achieve, they started a band.
After working on writing songs and talks about the band’s future, the duo decided to hold auditions that led to the recruitment of bassist Brian Marshall, drummer Scott Phillips, and rhythm guitarist Brian Brasher to complete the five piece band.
A lot of the songs that Stapp wrote addressed themes of Christian theology and spirituality. Stapp had a spiritual background. His step father, Steven Stapp, was a Pentecostal minister.
Later in a 2013 interview, Stapp recalls “I would feel a connection with God when I wrote the words and then when I would sing the songs, learning the songs, I would feel the Holy Spirit,” (x).
The five boys played music together through 1994, and then Brasher left the band in 1995. After that, the remaining four friends decided to keep the quartet line up permanently.
By this point, the four friends had written and collaborated on four of their songs that would go on to be hit tracks from Creed’s chart-topping debut album, My Own Prison.
The band quickly found local success and began playing shows in bars and small venues throughout Tallahassee. Stapp eventually wrote in 2012 that Creed first performed as “Naked Toddler.”
The name was picked up by Tremonti from a headline in that day’s newspaper; shockingly, the name caused a negative reaction among the crowd that night.
The group then tried to brainstorm some better ideas when Marshall said he had been in a band named Mattox Creed. Stapp latched onto the Creed part, and the band agreed.
Creed’s Debut and Rise to Fame
As the boys became more and more locally known, they wanted to sink their teeth into bigger, better things. They wanted “a real show at a club,” and so they managed to persuade the owner of a bar in Tallahassee to book them by claiming they could guarantee an audience of 200 people.
Owner and manager Jeff Hanson later states in an interview that the band played mostly cover versions, but there were two of their original songs that stood out to him. Hanson was impressed and decided to sign them to his management right away. His promotions company quickly set about developing Creed’s act.
For their first recordings, Hanson matched the boys up with producer and friend John Kurzweg. Together they recorded their debut album for $6,000, which was funded by Hanson.
My Own Prison was a self-released album on their label, Blue Collar Records, and it ended up selling 6,000 copies throughout the state of Florida.
By May of 1997, My Own Prison had made an impressive circulation around the music industry. Around this time, Diana Meltzer from Wind-Up Records heard the album for the first time. She decided almost immediately that she wanted to sign them to the label.
Wind-Up records had recently dropped the American rock band Baboon over their reluctance to alter their image and sound to suit the label’s demands.
Within that same week, Meltzer, along with Wind-Up’s president Stave Lerner, CEO Alan Meltzer, and A&R representative Joel Mark, all 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 mic, 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,” Meltzer later said in an interview for HitQuarters (x).
Before Wind-Up had come along, Jeff Hanson told Hitquarters in 2010, “14 labels passed on Creed. I was always prepared to do it myself as I continue to do in my music career…
Wind-up finally signed them, they just happened to believe in it 100% and the owner did everything in his capacity. They had the same mentality as I did, don’t take no for an answer,” (x).
My Own Prison was remixed, given a more radio-friendly sound, and then was re-released by Wind-Up Records in 1997. There were four singles that were released from the album: “My own Prison”, “Torn”, “What’s This Life For”, and “One”.
Each of these songs reached number one on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, making Creed the first band to accomplish such an impressive feat with a debut album.
With a little bit of MTV exposure, media coverage, and label support, My Own Prison sold incredibly well, selling over six million copies and going six times platinum. Creed stayed at the top of the charts throughout 1998, and they were recognized as the Rock Artist of the Year at the 1998 Billboard Music Awards.
The debut album was also the highest-selling heavy music record of 1998 on Nielsen SoundScan’s Hard Music Chart.
The band’s hit song and album namesake “My Own Prison” was also featured as a live performance on the charity album Live in the X Lounge in 1998.
The album lytically deals with themes of questioning and struggling with faith and spirituality. From what we know of Stapp’s early life, we know his early views on religion and spirituality were shaped by his grandfather, and later his step father.
Stapp recalls that “I was a Christian who was in rebellion and running from the brand of Christianity that I was raised on… [Stapp’s stepfather] was very strict, very disciplinarian, very corporal punishment, very military.. I told God ‘ I can’t do it. I just can’t do it.’ And so I ran from it,” (x).
Human Clay and Saying Goodbye to Marshall
With the money they made from My Own Prison, the band set out to write music for their second album, Human Clay.
The album’s first single, “Higher”, spent a record-breaking 17 weeks at the very top of the rock radio charts. In 2009, “Higher” was ranked as the 95th greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1.
This second album was released in 1999, and at this point in time My Own Prison was still doing reasonably well. However, Human Clay was an instant and overwhelming success debuting at number one on the Billboard 200 and selling well over ten million copies over the next two years.
This allowed it to become one of the few rock albums to be certified diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). After this album’s release, three follow-up singles were released in 2000: “What If”, “With Arms Wide Open”, and “Are You Ready?” .
These singles topped radio charts, giving Creed an impressive 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.
During the summer of 2000, Creed’s bassist Brian Marshall began to spiral into alcoholism. Concerned about Marshall and his future, Stapp and Tremonti had a meeting with management and supported the idea of Marshall going to rehab. The bandmates attempted to talk Marshall into going, but he refused.
Initially, the public believed that Marshall was let go because he criticized Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder in a radio interview with KNDD in June of 2000. He had claimed that Scott Stapp is a better songwriter, and criticized Pearl Jam’s recent albums for “having songs without hooks,” (x).
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,” (x).
Even though it was reported that Marshall left the band “on friendly terms,” this wasn’t the case. Tremonti and Stapp were concerned for Marshall and their collective friendships.
But soon after the controversy, Marshall formed a new band called Grand Luxx with his old Mattox Creed bandmates.
Stapp stated that Marshall’s leaving was his own decision and was completely unrelated to the Pearl Jam comments. Later on, Brett Hestla replaced Marshall. Hestla had been the vocalist and guitarist in the American hard rock band Virgos Merlot.
Weathered and a Break-Up
Creed worked on their third album for the majority of 2001, with Tremonti choosing to play bass on the record in order to “[preserve] the band’s initial core,” while still having Hestla on the band’s touring lineup.
Weathered was released on November 20, 2001. The album contained six singles: “My Sacrifice”, “Bullets”,”One Last Breath”, “Hide”, “Don’t Stop Dancing”, and “Weathered”. The first of those singles, “My Sacrifice”, earned the band a nomination for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 2003.
The album, like the ones before it, became a commercial bestseller and was certified platinum six times over and debuted number one on the Billboard Top 200. It stayed cozy in that spot for eight weeks, a record which Creed notably shares with The Beatles.
The tour to promote Weathered didn’t pan out as expected; it was delayed in April of 2002 when Stapp suffered a concussion and vertebrae damage after being involved in a car crash. As an unfortunate result, in addition to Stapp’s growing alcohol addiction, he also became addicted to pain medication.
This, along with other events, eventually led to a highly controversial concert on December 29, 2002, at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. This event prompted concertgoers to not only ask for their money back, but some even filed a class-action lawsuit against the band.
Four local concertgoers claimed that Stapp was so “intoxicated and/or medicated that he was unable to sing the lyrics of a single Creed song… he left the stage on several occasions during songs for long periods of time, rolled around on the floor of the stage in apparent pain or distress and [finally] appeared to pass out,” (x).
Creed later issued an apology on Stapp’s behalf. The letter was written by Jeff Hanson and reads:
“The band has heard that you are unhappy with the quality of the recent Creed show in Chicago. We apologize if you don’t feel that the show was up to the very high standards set by our previous shows in Chicago. We also understand and appreciate the fact that there has been much concern about Scott’s health and we want to assure everyone that he is doing very well and is taking a much needed break at home in Orlando after a very long and rigorous touring year… for now we hope that you can take some solace in the fact that you definitely experienced the most unique of all Creed shows and may have become a part of the unusual world of rock’n’roll history! Again, we apologize if you didn’t enjoy the show but remember, ‘It’s only rock’n’roll but we like it!’” (x).
After taking a hiatus for a little over a year, it was announced in June of 2004 that Creed had disbanded. Tremonti would go on to be interviewed by Mtv, where he claims “Scott and I hadn’t been close for a while and things just weren’t working out… none of us really argued amongst each other. It was always Scott who had the problem.”
Tremonti would continue to say that the creative juices between he and Stapp simply weren’t flowing anymore.
However, this wasn’t exactly true. Stapp’s faith based lyrics that he had come up with the entire time led many people to believe they were a Christian band. They were not, and Stapp’s bandmates resented it.
With tensions high, it was clear that the band couldn’t go on together. Stapp took a year-long trip to Maui in order to clear his head and overcome his addictions. This is also where he met Miss New York USA 2004 winner and model Jaclyn Nesheiwat, who he would marry later in 2006.
Stapp later recalls that around this time, after an episode of binge drinking, Scott checked into a Miami hotel. His anxiety was high and he became paranoid, worried the police were after him. He climbed out onto his room’s balcony, trying to escape to the floor below. He lost his footing and fell a whole 40 feet.
He says “Inevitably I land, and land on a ledge specifically designed to catch seagull waste…I really felt, even in that moment, I felt that’s where I belonged. And it was a real epiphany as I laid there and cried out to God and asked for help.”
Stapp survived the fall and ended up in the hospital, where Nesheiwat and her mother looked after him. Stapp described this as though he woke up and saw two angels before him.
At the same time as Creed’s break-up announcement, Stapp opted for a solo career. On November 22 of 2004, Wind-Up Records released Creed’s Greatest Hits album. Stapp later debuted his solo album The Great Divide in 2005.
Tremonti and Phillips reunited with Marshall to form a new band, Alter Bridge, in 2004 with singer Myles Kennedy, formerly part of the American rock band The Mayfield Four.
A Reunion, Full Circle, and 2012 Tour
In 2006, Tremonti referred to Creed as “officially in our past.” However, years later, on April 27, 2009, Creed’s website announced that the band had reunited for a new tour and plans for a new album.
Tremonti states that “we’re all very excited to reconnect with our fans and each other after seven long years.”
Phillips also stated that “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 June of 2009, Creed performed on [email protected] Along with them, Marshall performed on bass for the first time in eight years. Creed’s reunion tour began on August 6th of 2009, and then concluded on October 20th.
Full Circle, Creed’s first album in eight years, was released on October 27th of 2009. When Stapp elaborated on the title, he said that “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 track from Full Circle, “Overcome”, was posted on the band’s official website on August 18th of 2009.
On September 25th of 2009, Creed performed a concert in Houston, Texas that was recorded, broadcast via a live internet stream, and released on December 8th of 2010 as a concert film titled Creed Live.
Drummer Scott Phillips also confirmed that Full Circle will not be the band’s final album. In that same announcement they confirmed that Creed was to go on a world tour in support of Full Circle between April and September of 2010, starting with an Australian/ New Zealand tour, followed by South America, Europe and North America.
The tour was called the 20-10 Tour, and tickets for the tour were ten and twenty dollars to stand up against rising ticket prices.
Despite these efforts though, not every show sold out, and reviews were mostly mixed. When the band arrived in Birmingham for a show at the BJCC Arena, the lowest run of ticket prices had slid to 75 cents per seat.
They were essentially giving the tickets away in an attempt to rustle up a crowd.
While the promoters had spent what was likely hundreds if not thousands of dollars on full scale arena setup- smoke plumes, pyrotechnics, light shows- attendance was miniscule, and rather sad (x).
Creed later reconvened in 2011 and early 2012 to begin work on a potential fifth studio album. A tour was announced around this time in which the band would be performing their first two albums, My Own Prison and Human Clay, from front to back over the course of two nights, with as few selected tracks from Weathered and Full Circle also featured.
The “2 Nights” tour kicked off with two shows on April 12th and 13th of 2012 at the Chicago Theatre in Chicago, Illinois.
Hiatus and the Present
The band has been on hiatus since 2013. In October of that year, Stapp noted in one interview that extensive work on the album was done throughout 2011 and 2012, however the project was subsequently abandoned. Stapp recalls that he is uncertain of the reasoning as to why, but maintains that Creed is “still a band.”
In 2015 while promoting a solo album, Mark Tremonti claimed in an interview with Kerrang that he “[hasn’t] been a close friend of Scott’s in 9 years.” Other members of the band stated that they didn’t really talk to Stapp during their South American tour in 2012 and plans for their fifth studio album were shelved.
2015 was also the year that Stapp appeared on the Dr. Oz Show. He was asked about a Creed reunion, to which Stapp replied “I sure hope so. I love those guys with all my heart and if they’re watching, c’mon guys, let’s make a record,” (x).
When asked about Stapp’s comment, Tremonti clarified that he was still very busy promoting his solo albums and it was unlikely he would be able to return to Creed within Stapp’s proposed timeline.
In September of 2015, Stapp announced that Creed would be releasing a new “retrospective” album in November. It would contain three discs, one with hits, one with rarities, and the last with acoustic versions of hits. The album, titled With Arms Wide Open: A Retrospective was released as a Walmart-exclusive.
Because of the nature of time and the former band member’s new busy lives, the likelihood of a Creed reunion is low. As of the writing of this article, Creed is still on Hiatus and Scott Stapp still claims they are together.