Remembering Lux Interior of The Cramps
Six years ago today, the world of punk said farewell to one of its greatest frontmen: the irreplaceable Lux Interior…and, yes, “irreplaceable” is definitely the appropriate term, since The Cramps officially called it quits in the wake of Lux’s death.
Born on October 21, 1946 in Akron, Ohio, Erick Lee Purkhiser for some reason felt that his real name wasn’t sufficiently punk, so he changed it to a moniker that he’d heard in a car commercial, having also contemplated but ultimately dismissed such alternate possibilities as Vip Vop and Raven Beauty. In a tale straight out of a movie script, Lux met his future wife, Kristy Wallace, a.k.a. Poison Ivy Rorschach, when he and one of his friends picked her up in Sacramento while she was hitchhiking. Ivy soon followed Lux back to Akron, then the two of them moved to New York, where The Cramps became a key part of the early CBGB punk scene.
Although The Cramps never had any real sort of breakthrough mainstream hit in America, they were damned near a phenomenon in the UK, at least on the Independent album charts: the band’s 1980 album, Songs the Lord Taught Us, hit #1, as did 1986’s A Date with Elvis, with those two efforts bookending 1983’s Smell of Female, which made it to #4. They also pulled a #4 placing with their 1987 live album, Rockin n Reelin in Auckland New Zealand XXX. (The Brits always did dig the rockabilly a bit more than us Americans.) The band made a surprising transition in 1990, however, with their Stay Sick album hitting #62 on the proper UK Albums chart, and that’s also when they had a bit of a college-radio comeback in the States with their single “Bikini Girls with Machine Guns.”
The Cramps continued to record and release material all the way through 2006, when they released the Australian-only effort, The Secret Life of The Cramps, and they also continued to play live shows regularly up through that point, too, but November 2006 brought the very last Cramps concert, and in 2009 Lux died from aortic dissection. Even if you’ve never heard a single song by the band, though, if you’ve got a kid, it’s not impossible that they might still recognize the voice of Lux Interior: in 2002, he gave voice to the frontman of an all-bird rock band called The Bird Brains on SpongeBob SquarePants.
Lux Interior won’t soon be forgotten, and not just because of his highly memorable name: he was a leather-clad rock star of the highest order, and he was a bad-ass punk rocker, too. When you put those two things together and throw in a rockabilly beat, you’ll never get the resulting sound out of your head…and if you listen to the commemorative playlist that we’ve put together, we can make that happen for you.