The US record industry was doing numbers in the late 1990s that seem incomprehensible now. The year 2000 was the all-time peak, with 785 million total album sales according to Soundscan. In 2001, that number would drop to 763 million, and 681 million the year after that, and it’s been downhill ever since. But in 1997 and 1998, sales were still climbing year-over-year, from 652 million to 711. (To put that in some perspective, more albums were sold in 1998 than in 2014, 2015 and 2016 combined.)
On August 26, 1997 — 20 years ago tomorrow — Wind-Up Records re-released Creed’s debut album, My Own Prison. (The band had pressed 6000 copies of an earlier version of the album on their own Blue Collar label.) It debuted on the Billboard 200 chart on October 18, 1997 at #174, with the title track already a Top 10 hit on the Mainstream Rock chart, which combined sales and radio airplay. In March 1998, My Own Prison was certified platinum; at the time, it was #30 on the Billboard 200. One year after release, on August 25, 1998, it was double platinum and was at #22 on the chart, where it peaked. Ultimately, My Own Prison sold six million copies, and sent four singles — “My Own Prison,” “Torn,” “What’s This Life For” and “One” — up the Mainstream Rock charts. “What’s This Life For” hit #1. It was the 26th best-selling album of 1998, landing right above Janet Jackson’s The Velvet Rope and below the Spice Girls’ Spice on Billboard’s year-end chart. (Thanks to Chris Molanphy for supplying all this chart data.)
The music on My Own Prison took ideas from grunge, which had mostly come and gone by that point, and filtered them through more mainstream hard rock and arena metal. Creed weren’t interested in the punk-rock energy of Mudhoney or Nirvana, but they were borrowing heavily from Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains, whose lugubrious style was a natural fit for Scott Stapp’s baritone roar.
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