February 6, 2009


Lux Interior, 62, Singer in the Punk-Rock Era, Is Dead (BEN SISARIO, 2/05/09, NY Times)

The Cramps were founded in New York around 1976 by Lux Interior (born Erick Purkhiser in Stow, Ohio) and the guitarist Poison Ivy (Kristy Wallace) with a distinct musical and visual style. As connoisseurs of seemingly all forms of trashy pop culture from the 1950s and ’60s — ranging from ghoulish comic books to Z-grade horror films to the rawest garage rock — they developed a sound that mixed the menace of rockabilly’s primitivist fringe with dark psychedelia and the blunt simplicity of punk.

Cultivating a sense of sleazy kitsch, the band played songs with titles like “Creature From the Black Leather Lagoon,” and its members dressed like a rock ’n’ roll version of the Addams Family. Lux Interior, gaunt and dark, was fond of skintight rubber, although onstage he usually ended up in just his leopard-skin trunks, or less. Poison Ivy often performed in pin-up or bondage costumes, and others who passed through the band developed tawdry characters of their own.

Lux Interior and Poison Ivy met when he picked her up as a hitchhiker in California in the early ’70s. They bonded over their pop-culture interests — both scoured flea markets and thrift shops for discarded 1950s records — and by 1975 they had moved to New York. They took stage names and became regulars at CBGB and Max’s Kansas City, and they later married. She survives him.

After several singles in the late 1970s that were produced by Alex Chilton of the Box Tops and Big Star, the band released “Songs the Lord Taught Us” in 1980, and it became a club and college-radio standard.

...hard as it may be to believe, the state of rock n roll was so dire in the '70s that the anti-intellectual fervor of their psychobilly helped save it from itself.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at February 6, 2009 5:40 PM
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