October 21 1946 – February 4 2009
A Date With Elvis & Gravest Hits & Songs The Lord Taught Us indeedâ€¦ Fucking hellâ€¦
A ferociously visually artist, his stage antics would often make Iggy Pop look static as Lux writhed on the stage clad in sweat and his underpants. And The Cramps music? Creating the genre now known as psychobilly, theirs was a bubbling cauldron of 50s rock’n’roll updated with B-movie and horror films imagery, Americana, campy humour, sexual fetishism and excellent bad taste that was nothing less than magnetic.
In conversation, I always found him to have a madly attractive macabre sense of humor as well as an encyclopedic enthusiasm for everything from Roy Orbison on Sun Records to the lyrics of ‘Strychnine’ by The Sonics – a song The Cramps recorded, as they did with Orbison’s ‘Domino’ penned by Sun founder Sam Phillips.
Lux is partially summed up by his opening comment when in 1978 The Cramps played at Napa State Mental Hospital: â€œSomebody told me you people are crazy but I’m not so sure about that – you seem to be alright!â€
The Cramps were formed in 1973 and having based themselves in New York became early members of the downtown punk scene that centred around the club CBGB on the then viciously-unfashionable Bowery. And The Cramps’ own fabulous X-rated songs proudly boasted non-X Factor titles like ‘The Hot Pearl Snatch’, ‘Devil Behind That Bush’ and ‘Can Your Pussy Do The Dog?’ – as well as some of the coolest-ever garage rock readings of raunchy rock-a-boogie classics and shadowy big beat ballads that licked you in places that mama don’t allow.
The Cramps influenced a whole rainbow of current bands, from The White Stripes to The Black Keys and The Black Lips as well as The Horrors, The Jesus And Mary Chain, Primal Scream and My Bloody Valentine. On hearing the news of Lux Interior’s death, Mani of Primal Scream texted me with â€œWhy is it never Chris Martin or Damon Albarn? All my heroes and legends are exitingâ€ while Bob Geldof’s message was simply â€œLOVE tht [sic] band!â€
And Alan McGee, the legendary Scottish entrepreneurial outlaw who formed Creation Records and signed Oasis plus co-founding with me the traveling rock’n’roll party Death Disco, Alan says â€œMy love of The Cramps started in 1980 when I saw them with The Fall in Glasgow College Of Technology with Gillespie [Bobby Gillespie the singer of Primal Scream, formerly the drummer with The Jesus And Mary Chain – McGee managed both bands]. I even in 1994 put out The Cramps album ‘Flame Job’ on Creation as nobody else seemed to want to put it out at the time. Much love to Ivy at this time. To Lux Interior, you probably changed my view of rock’n’roll forever that night in Glasgow. Love and respect foreverâ€.
I first saw The Cramps at The Nashville Rooms in London on June 22nd 1979. I know the date because after their astounding mind-fucking show they gave me a signed copy – dated – of their brilliant Alex Chilton-produced-at-Sun debut 12″ EP Gravest Hits [Illegal Records] which I’m looking at now. Lux wrote “If I ever said Beep I’d be banned”. The sleeve notes, listing then-drummer Nick Knox and guitarists Ivy Rorschach – ie Poison Ivy – and Bryan Gregory, say “And Lux Interior, the band’s frontal lobe, wherein Elvis gets crossed with Vincent Price and decent folk ask ‘What hath God wrought?'”
Brian Gregory quit The Cramps in 1980 and died in obscurity from a heart attack aged 46 in 2001.
Lux Interior died on Wednesday Feb 4 in Glendale Memorial Hospital in California from an ongoing heart condition. He was and always will be ageless.
My heart goes out to Lux’ wife Poison Ivy.
BP Fallon Feb 5 2009
Article appeared in Hot Press magazine, Feb 2009