Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lux Interior of the Cramps dies...

original article in the montclarion

Lux Interior, famous front man of the Cramps, died at 62 due to a pre-existing heart condition on Feb. 4.

The Cramps helped rockabilly get its way into the New York punk scene in the late '70s. With long-time fellow band mate and wife Poison Ivy, he created a sound and act that set them apart from the CBGB scene.

Though the line-up of drummers, bassists and guitarists has changed throughout the years, this didn't stop Interior and Ivy from touring and making albums with the same raw edge as they had years ago.

They have been considered to be the founders of psychobilly by some, which is a genre that is an incredible mash-up of rockabilly and punk music.

The Cramps have performed and recorded various covers ranging in artists and genres. They have explored rockabilly, surf and '60s garage rock. The Cramps made ghoulish interpretations out of anything from Peggy Lee's "Fever," to the Trashmen's "Surfin' Bird."

One of their most popular songs was "Human Fly," where the Cramps give onomatopoeia meaning with Interior's buzzing and Ivy's echoing guitar. Other favorites are "I Was a Teenage Werewolf," "Goo Goo Muck" and "Garbage Man." It's hard to resist shaking one's hips or bobbing one's head to these tracks.

Their popularity was in its prime in the '80s, with their albums Psychedelic Jungle and Songs the Lord Taught Us.

With Interior's gender-bending fashion and horror-fueled lyrics accompanied by Ivy's mysterious glares, stage presence and guitar riffs, the Cramps put on a show that one would never forget.

Having memorable concerts like a free show at the California State Mental Hospital with patients dancing and singing along in 1978, to a show just as entertaining over 30 years later, the Cramps finished their most recent tour this past November.

Interior's infamous stage antics of stripping down to leopard print g-strings, shoving microphones in his mouth while singing during many songs and having those never-ending bottles of wine pour out of his lips; he made recent so-called shock rockers look like absolute amateurs.

Interior had also been an animal rights activist until his death. Instead of flowers, fans were asked to make donations to his favorite charity, Best Friends Animal Society.

The Cramps' official website said that Interior's death "was sudden, shocking and totally unexpected. Five days of heroic measures were unable to save him."

Leaving fans full of regret that they never went out to see the Cramps, or grateful that they got to see them in action(lucky me!), Interior will always be remembered as one of the most eccentric, creative and energetic frontmen and ring leaders of underground music culture.

b&w photo by Chad Johnson, colored by Stephen L Harlow

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