Creed’s Triumphant Return!

March 25, 2024

Bands come and go: Peaks and valleys, reunion tours that aren’t quite reunions, farewells that end up being more of a prolonged break and other hype that may or may not excite the masses sufficiently. But the momentum behind the return of Creed may be something this industry has never seen.

“It’s really sometimes hard to articulate the significance of what’s happened,” says Scott Stapp, frontman of Creed, one of the biggest bands of its time.

In the span of barely seven years, Creed went from the top of the music business to the ash heap. The Florida-based four-piece whose 1997 debut, My Own Prison, was certified six times platinum by the RIAA, spawned four No. 1 singles that went global, making millions of fans as they played the biggest stages across the world. They even went on to win a Grammy. Nearly as quickly, the band spectacularly flamed out with inter-band tensions, perhaps victims of their own success and susceptible to the excesses that can come with rock stardom. A low point came during a chaotic 2002 show at Chicago’s Rosemont Horizon, which led to a class-action suit filed against the band for not performing up to snuff (the suit was eventually dismissed). Shortly thereafter, Creed’s members largely went their separate ways, starting families, getting healthy and working on side projects.

“To realize that we’ve stood the test of time through all the ups and downs that we’ve experienced as a band, personally and professionally, the music lived on. No matter what the narrative was out there at the time, behind the scenes, the music was still at work,” says frontman Scott Stapp, who publicly struggled with addiction and mental health issues and in recent years been vocal about his recovery, crediting his wife and faith.

“I definitely feel everything that has gone on throughout this journey has just ended up working for the band’s good,” Stapp said. “I definitely feel that as a man of faith, God’s been a part of the story.”

In ways perhaps no one could predict or orchestrate, momentum has built for Creed organically and maybe surprisingly, as the band’s earnest, anthemic hits have aged gracefully alongside its fans, evoking fond memories of the World Wide Web 1.0 era with an uplifting take on grunge that translated to the big stage in a way few have ever achieved.

Since 1999, Pollstar Boxoffice Reports submitted for Creed total $79 million grossed, with 2.3 million tickets sold for 256 shows. This included a $1.27 million haul on two shows at Dallas’ Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in September 2002 and almost $900,000 at Philadelphia’s Spectrum in December that year. While their touring stopped, their songs never did.

“The catalog had a bit of a renaissance during COVID,” said United Talent Agency’s Ken Fermaglich, Creed’s agent from the beginning. “During lockdown streaming really exploded for people in general and we started to see some real spikes from the streaming standpoint, from the YouTube standpoint, and even from the TikTok and meme standpoint. “That’s where we started to feel something of a pulse with respect to the music.”

That “meme” aspect reached new levels in October, with the Texas Rangers clubhouse adopting the band’s “Higher” (which surpassed 243 million streams on Spotify) as a theme song, leading the team to play it during its playoff run and invite the band to attend a game. Those moments created lifetime memories for Rangers fans watching their team bring home their first World Series trophy. That was followed up in February with a Paramount + Super Bowl ad featuring the band, Patrick Stewart, “Hey Arnold,” Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and others in what can only be described as a ’90s fever dream of a commercial.

But, by then, the wheels were already in motion with Sixthman’s “The Summer Of ’99” cruise announced in July of 2023 for this year, which would be the band’s first gig together in more than 10 years and somewhat of a gauge of demand for what could turn into more.

When that endeavor, a five-day affair that runs April 18-22 and includes fellow ’90s alt favorites 3 Doors Down, Buckcherry, Tonic, Vertical Horizon and The Verve Pipe — as well as meet and greet and special VIP perks like basketball with Stapp, karaoke with the band and more — went on sale, it sold out in less than two days.

Sixthman executive Darby Moeller said the event was the fastest-selling music cruise the company has produced and led to a second cruise April 27-May 1. This one, joined by Daughtry rather than 3 Doors Down and also Veruca Salt’s Louise Post and Jimmy’s Chicken Shack, also sold out.

“When we launched it, within the first 24 hours, we had over 9,000 signups for the presale. By the time we went to the presale, we had almost 20,000 signups, and this is for around 1,000 cabins,” Moeller said, explaining that music cruises are typically announced a week before onsale to give fans a little time to check their calendars and make arrangements.

“On average, we see around a 5% to 10% conversion rate on presale signups to actual bookings. This one was double, triple that in terms of what actually came through.”
With a Live Nation tour penciled in already, the team had confidence that a
full summer run would be successful, but no one could really know for sure.

“The cruises really primed the pump for the tour because we could see from the comments on social media, the pervasive comment was, ‘When’s the tour? When’s the tour? When’s the tour?’” said Fermaglich, who was an early adopter of the concert cruise model. His client, Paramore, who created the successful “Parahoy Cruise” with Sixthman, was one of the first contemporary bands to try the format. “It allowed us to kind of have a bit of a sense of what would happen when we put real shows on sale.”

A full “Summer Of ’99 Tour” was put on sale in early November, again exceeding expectations and leading to a fall leg announced this month. The “Are You Ready?” tour will feature 3 Doors Down and Mammoth WVH, this time taking in arenas in new markets and some repeats, with many dates selling out immediately. A big believer in the band is Live Nation’s Steve Herman, a self-described expert on rock reunions with artists who may have been out of the scene — or touring without their full original line-up — mentioning recent successes including blink-182, Guns N’ Roses, Smashing Pumpkins and Nickelback. He admits the response to Creed’s tour was bigger than anyone would have anticipated. “It’s double what I expected, which was still going to be super successful,” he says.

It was a good problem to have and further proof of the band having a wide-reaching and organically grown moment.

“It’s really interesting to note the demographics on their sales — 10% of the tickets sold on this tour are under 24 years old. That’s pretty remarkable to us,” Herman said. “Under 34 represents 38% of the tickets sold, which is a big number. They still obviously have a very big base in the middle-age range, but they are trending younger than most of the rock bands from that era.”

Herman says the shows are configured for around 11,500 to 13,000 tickets per night, with first-day sellouts at markets including Pine Knob Amphitheater in Detroit and Toronto’s Budweiser Stage.

He expects more than 700,000 tickets to be sold ultimately on all Live Nation dates, “which is pretty remarkable in North America.” He says there is also plenty of demand overseas, although there are no international touring plans yet.

The stars seemed more than aligned and the band themselves were ready — although busy.

“Everything’s been kind of in the works for a while, but everything seems to be happening all at once,” says Mark Tremonti, Creed co-founder and guitarist, who was about to hit the studio to record guitar tracks for an upcoming solo project at the same time Stapp was on tour for his own solo project.

“We always hoped it would come back as strong as it was back in the early 2000s and it really has,” says Tremonti, adding he’s getting calls from friends and family and even hearing excitement from his kids’ school teachers. “It seems like people are going nuts for it. Not just the stuff you see online. I’m getting calls from people from around the globe asking me about it.”

With both Stapp and Tremonti remaining active recording and touring with side projects, including Tremonti’s Alter Bridge going into its 20th year now, there’s no stage fright or jitters about getting back on the big stages — even if it is a little different this time.
“We’ve seen it all over the years, but it’s definitely going to be exciting to get the 20,000 folks there just solely to see you,” said Tremonti, adding he’ll need just “a few weeks” to dust off some of the cobwebs to play the Creed material. “Especially those amphitheaters, they’re a lot of fun. I’ve missed doing that back in the earlier Creed days and just seeing the sea of people.”

Tim Tournier, co-manager for Creed and specifically Tremonti and Alter Bridge at Janus Music Management, says the huge response echoes the excitement from the band to be doing it again.

“The fact that we’re able to go out and do this and do a 26,000-capacity (venue) in Hershey, Pennsylvania, is an absolute gift, but the enthusiasm would still be there if it was a 1,500-cap. House of Blues,” said Tournier. “We’re excited for people who are willing to come on the journey with us, and we’re doing it either way.”

Although rehearsals have yet to take place, Tremonti says to expect the hits along with the band’s favorite deep cuts, “and then we’ll kind of see what happens from there.” As far as production, he says the band’s music lends itself to lights and pyrotechnics. “It’s huge. It’s as big as it’s ever been production-wise. I don’t think anybody’s going leave saying that wasn’t a big show.”

Although disbanded in 2004, Creed didn’t completely disappear, and did some gigs together in 2009 and 2012 but without nearly the momentum or support seen now. With enough time passed for younger generations to discover the band — and the millennials who grew up with them craving a nostalgia hit from their glory days — the reunion feels like unfinished business.

“The whole point of this is to celebrate what’s already been created and to get the machine back up and moving,” says Tournier. “Yes, it’s nostalgia, but it’s also a healing process to be able to get everybody back together and play these songs again. Then the focus can happen of figuring out who Creed is moving forward.”

Stapp’s manager is Shelter Management’s Tom Storms, who began working with the singer in 2020. He says the focus was on Stapp’s solo career and invigorating the Creed catalog while waiting for the right time for something large-scale.

“It was better to be patient. If we’re going to do this, let’s do it right,” said Storms, who said a tour opportunity came up in 2021 but there was still much COVID-
related uncertainty. “We were going to get one shot at this and needed to have a long enough runway to do it right.”

Stapp just released a solo album, Higher Power, March 15 via Napalm Records. Proud of his highest-charting solo single, the album’s title track, he says the Creed momentum has carried over to his solo endeavors.

“Of course I wanted to do it, especially with the vibe and the good relationships growing with the band, but there was some concern,” Stapp said, noting the possibility of a Creed reunion negatively affecting his album. “Some wise folks in my life said, ‘You know, a rising tide raises all ships,’ and I trusted them. I’m definitely experiencing some of that.”

Tremonti’s endeavors may also see a boost from a rejuvenated Creed, including his work benefiting the National Down Syndrome Society. His 2022 musical project, “Tremonti Sings Sinatra,” including original members of Frank Sinatra’s band, is part of his Take A Chance For Charity initiative raising money for the organization. He and his family also recently spearheaded a first-of-its-kind Down syndrome clinic in Orlando, which specializes in adult treatment.

“It’s a huge honor for us, and it’s probably my life’s favorite achievement,” said Tremonti, whose daughter Stella was born with Down syndrome. “It’s the thing that when I’m a little old man on my deathbed, that’ll be my No. 1 thing.” Operated by Advent Health, the clinic provides care for adult patients, who are often underserved and have trouble finding medical care after adolescence. “The clinic is fully booked,” Tournier said.

Meanwhile, with several projects from multiple families meaning multiple schedules to consider and still more logistical puzzles to figure out, the Creed team says everyone has the band and its members’ best interests in mind. That also means letting the band rekindle on its own terms and remember why the magic happened in the first place.

“It’s just like old friends who maybe go months without talking to each other and then when they reconnect, they just pick up where they left off,” Stapp said. “No matter what’s happened over the years, good, bad, indifferent, when we get on that stage, we just pick up where we left off and there’s a chemistry and a magic and a connection that only the four of us have.”