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Friday, December 8, 2023

Creed from The Office’s days in a psychedelic pop band

For those well-acquainted with The Office US, Creed Bratton remains one of the most memorable supporting characters to grace the Dunder Mifflin desks. Equal parts quirky and off-putting, the acting manager of the office was an ex-rockstar whose consequential memory loss prompted some of the most memorable lines in the series. The character’s story, funnily enough, isn’t too far off the actor’s own life.

The first clue that The Office’s Creed Bratton was based on the real Creed Bratton comes with the name, but their similarities go far deeper. Like his character, the real-life Bratton spent the late 1960s immersed in the vices and virtues of psychedelic music.

He joined The Grass Roots, at the time known as The 13th Floor, at the request of guitarist Warren Entner, with whom he would find major musical success. The band sold millions of records, achieved charting singles, and toured across the country. “I mean, imagine,” Bratton told Esquire, “we were on the road. We had hit records. I’m making money. I get to fly around the United States and play for people. This is the best.”

But Bratton’s optimism quickly faded as the label limited his creativity. The band’s earliest hits comprised covers and songs written by people from the label, who restricted their freedom in songwriting and playing. By the end of the decade, it seemed that Bratton had had enough.

His stint in the band culminated with a show at San Francisco’s Fillmore West. As a consequence of the LSD he had taken before the gig, Bratton struggled to play the guitar as he thought that his hands were glowing. “I hear [Fillmore promoter] Bill Graham going, ‘Play! Play, you L.A. f***!’ Why would he say that to me? He didn’t like me very much. I don’t know what the deal was…” Bratton recalled to Yahoo Entertainment.

“They didn’t know I was tripping out,” he explained. The show devolved further into chaos when Bratton was compelled to rid himself of his trousers. “And then all of a sudden I looked around, and I couldn’t perform,” he recalled, “So I dropped my pants! And back in those days, you know, let that pony dance! I mean, Old Blue needed some air room!”

Expectedly, this behaviour didn’t fly, and Bratton was swiftly kicked out of the band. “I didn’t have a plan,” he told Esquire, “I was just sitting there watching it happen, you know. I always knew, though, when the opportunity arose, I would be told because that’s how my life had been.”

After spending some time travelling and meditating, Bratton eventually turned to acting. After small roles in films throughout the 1980s, he landed a role in the US adaptation of The Office in 2005 and his real life, already more interesting than fiction, formed the basis for his character. Though he is now more known for his office shenanigans than his psych-pop stint, the two have become entwined through the show.

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