5:02 PM GMT 17/05/2013
Lux Interior, the gloriously untamed frontman of garage punk psychoids The Cramps, passed way yesterday in Glendale Memorial Hospital in Glendale, California, as the result of a pre-existing heart condition.
The Cramps, who formed in 1973, were instrumental in popularising the forgotten weirdness of early moonshine rockabilly, garage punk and lascivious ’50s R&B. Interior (born Erick Lee Purkhiser), along with his fellow Cramp, and partner for 37 years, Poison Ivy, became de-facto curators of bizarro American pop culture, from sci-fi movies to Tiki culture and it was this unholy mix of rock’n’roll energy and backwoods American lunacy that The Cramps injected into the American music scene during their time served on the downtown New York punk scene of CBGB and Max’s Kansas City in the mid ’70s.
The Cramps released 14 albums over the course of their career, from the dribbling rockabilly sexuality of 1980’s Songs The Lord Taught Us to 2004's How To Make a Monster but the best way to experience The Cramps was always as a live “event”, where Ivy’s echo-fuzz guitar and mind-altering devil-girl hip thrusts were but the backdrop to the psychotic stage show that was Lux Interior, bucking and writhing near-naked but for tiny briefs and a pair of ladies high heels, on a stage covered in knickers and broken glass, microphone half way down his throat, wailing, hiccupping and howling his way through Billy Burnette’s Tear It Up like he was some pre-verted Southern Baptist preacher on a cocktail of Elvis drugs.
The night I went to see The Cramps play Liverpool Royal Court in 1983 was one of the most exciting and terrifying evenings of my life. When a sweaty and bloody Lux Interior launched himself into the audience it was the first and last time I’ve ever seen the audience run, in confusion and fear, resulting in the singer smashing with a crunch on the Royal Court’s foul, oily floor. He was so bruised and concussed he sang the next three songs on his back, before rising to freak and twitch and howl across the stage once more.
I was so traumatised by the experience that I never told my mum and dad where I’d been; I felt almost as if I’d been involved in a crime. The last time I saw them play London Lux was still at it, biting Ivy’s leather boots, writhing in a stage soup of sweat and broken bottles and, finally, falling off the back of the stage like Lee J Cobb In Anthony Mann’s Man Of the West.
That’s how I’ll remember him.
Posted by Ross_Bennett at 10:09 AM GMT 05/02/2009