Creech, Steve

Steve playing his blonde 1982 Guild X-500. Photo by Tom Whelan.

Guitarist, band leader and impresario Steve Creech was born on a farm near Kenly in Johnston County. He has been playing music since he was 6 and a member of his family quartet. He grew up in Kinston, where in high school he began playing professionally in bands, performing original compositions as well as covers. He co-founded the Hi-Fi’s, an instrumental and vocal group which performed popular music of the 1950s at local dances, parties, church functions, and special occasions. The Hi-Fi’s had a 30-minute weekly radio show for nearly a year, won several talent shows, and performed widely throughout eastern North Carolina.

He also played on the Kinston Grainger High School football and basketball teams, each of which won state championships.

Steve with his 1956 Les Paul Custom, aka the Les Paul Black Beauty

While in high school and college, Creech composed over 40 songs. Three were recorded: “Stay With Me” and “Spanish Guitar” by Jimmy Briggs (now Jymmi Briggjanos), vocalist, and “Marry Me” by Johnny Daye, vocalist. “Marry Me” was played in over 20 countries and on Dick Clark’s Bandstand, made the top 20 r&b chart, and was selected as “Sleeper of the Week” in a national DJ publication. “Spanish Guitar” was reissued in Germany on a compilation of great r&b songs from the 1970s.

While a student at Wake Forest University in the late 1950s, he led the vocal quartet Steve Creech and the Creatures, for whom he did the musical arrangements, sang baritone, and accompanied on guitar. He also performed widely with Jimmy Briggs, the Kinston vocalist who later recorded on Capitol Records, and he played guitar with the Southerners, a combo and big band from Winston-Salem.

After graduation, Creech continued to perform with various groups in eastern and central North Carolina while obtaining master’s degrees from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest and UNC-CH, where he also earned his PhD.

Creech worked professionally in counseling and administration in mental health services for more than 30 years, first at John Umstead Hospital in Butner, NC and for 23 years as Area Director of the Pitt County Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Area Program in Greenville, NC.

Since retiring in 1997, Creech has maintained a busy performance schedule throughout the region, appearing with a variety of the area’s most talented jazz performers. 

He  is married to Catherine Treadway Creech, originally from Gastonia, and they have two daughters, Stephanie Peo, a music teacher at Aycock Middle School and Rose High School in Greenvllle, and Cathy Kyriakakis, both of whom are vocalists, voice teachers, and have performed professionally. Stephanie is married to baritone Ron Peo, a former opera singer with Opera Nuremberg who performed widely throughout the United States and Europe for 25 years before relocating to Greenville. They have one son, Stephen. Cathy teaches private voice lessons in her studio and her husband,  Scott Kyriakakis, is an underwriter with Wells Fargo. They reside in Herndon, Virginia.  

Creech is a charter member of the Greenville Noon Rotary Club,  a former board member of  the East Carolina University Friends of Jazz,  guitarist with the Emerald City Big Band, a member of the East Carolina University Club Advisory Committee at Cypress Glen Retirement Community, a Centennial Pirate of the East Carolina University Alumni Association, a member of the Advisory Committee of the Associate of Fine Arts in Music at Pitt Community College, and past member of the Advisory Committee of the East Carolina University Performing Arts Series. Until COVID, he was still an avid tennis player, active in the Baywood Racquet Club where he was part of the 9.5 State Champions Mixed Doubles Team and has been winner or finalist in 125 tournament events. 

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A Steve Creech discography

“Marry Me,” written by Jimmy Briggs and Steve Creech. Johnny Daye, vocals, Steve Creech guitar. 45 rpm. New York: Jomada Records M600. 1968. Listen to it.

“Stay with Me,” written by Steve Creech. Jimmy Briggs, vocals, with the Willie Moore Quintet. 45 RPM. Kinston, Beverly Records.

“Spanish Guitar,” written by Steve Creech and Jimmy Briggs. [B-side of “Stay with Me”]  
—. reissued on Praise Poems: A journey into Deep Soulful Jazz & Funk from the 1970s. CD and LP. Tramp Records. 2015.

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Read Donna Davis’ profile of Steve.

Steve’s playing a 1976 Gibson Johnny Smith guitar, with Earle Abernethy on bass; Jimmy Aycock, piano; and Les Sutorious, trumpet


Date(s) performed at RAF