There comes a point at every Creed Bratton concert where he breaks into “Let’s Live for Today,” the breakthrough hit by his old folk-rock band the Grass Roots that hit Number Eight in 1967 and remains a staple of oldies radio to this day. Throughout the many lean years that followed his departure from the group in 1969, this was always the one song in his repertoire guaranteed to drive the crowd wild. Lately, however, it’s been greeted by nothing but blank stares and when he reaches the iconic chorus (“sha la la la la la live for today”) nobody chimes in to help. “I get nothing back from the crowd when I do that song,” he says with a chuckle. “Absolutely nothing.”
That’s because most people at his shows these days are only faintly aware that Bratton was a genuine rock star 50 years ago. They come because of his role on The Office as the mysterious quality-assurance director that smells like mung beans, lives for scuba diving, can’t tell the difference between an apple and a potato, and also happens to go by the name Creed Bratton.
He’s been playing solo gigs ever since The Office took off in popularity well over a decade ago, but thanks to Netflix an entirely new generation of rabid fans has emerged that help him pack large clubs all over the country. Never in his life has Bratton done nearly this well on the road, even if most people in the audience are five decades younger than him. “It’s hard to get laid!” he says. “It’s just these young girls and I need a 60-year-old woman. I tell them to bring along their grandmothers for Creed. They laugh. They think I’m joking!”
Bratton had to walk a long, hard road to reach this point. He spent the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties desperately struggling to earn a living from catering jobs and bit roles in B movies The Wild Pair and Seven Hours to Judgment. Grass Roots lead singer Rob Grill hired new backing musicians and began playing the hits on the nostalgia circuit in that time, but there was little interest in the guy that played guitar with him back in the 1960s. (Grill died in 2011 and the current incarnation of the Grass Roots has not a single member that played on the original records.) In the late Nineties, Bratton formed the Original Rockers with Dick Dodd and Paul Downing from the Standells to see if he could generate even a tiny bit of excitement on the road. “We couldn’t get arrested,” Bratton says. “Tribute bands were getting a lot more money than we were and after a year we just gave it up.”
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