Lux Interior, 1946-2009How in the hell did I not learn about this until yesterday?
Lux Interior, the legendary – LEGENDARY – front man of the legendary – LEGENDARY – Cramps, died February 4. It’s a shame and a sin that his passing seemingly slipped by. Without Lux, Poison Ivy, and the Cramps, there would have been no pyschobilly and countless bands we take for granted today would have been lost in the wilderness with no guiding light.
My introduction to the Cramps came through the movie Urgh: A Music War and their frenetic version of Johnny Burnette’s “Tear It Up.” I’ll never forget Lux caroming around the stage in skintight leather pants that seemed to defy gravity as they clung (barely) to his hips. Then shoving the mic into his mouth and grunting lewdly. It was just fucking amazing to watch.
A few years later, I had the opportunity to see the Cramps play live at the Hollywood Palladium. I wish my memories of that show were as vivid as my initial impression of the Urgh performance. All I can really bring to mind right now is that the show did not disappoint.
In Lux’s obit, the New York Times related the following anecdote, which took place in 1979 while the Cramps were guest D.J.’ing on WPIX-FM in New York. One of the station personalities asked Lux about the music. He replied, “Rock ’n’ roll has absolutely nothing to do with music. It’s much more than music. Rock ’n’ roll is who you are. You can’t call the Cramps music. It’s noise, rockin’ noise.”
Lux Interior was one of punk’s – nah, one of rock’s – greatest front men. There is and will be a lot of imitators, but he was a true original and he will be sorely missed.
Today’s music comes from the 2004 compilation How to Make a Monster. The two-disk set included tons of unreleased demos and rehearsals, as well as two historic live performances, both from very early in the Cramps’ career: One at Max's Kansas City and the other at CBGB's. Note that the sound quality isn’t always that great, but it’s nonetheless all worth hearing.
Domino.mp3 ~ Summer 1976 rehearsal
I Was a Teenage Werewolf.mp3 ~ October 1976 rehearsal
Lonesome Town.mp3 ~ 1981 rehearsal
Hanky Panky.mp3 ~ 1982 A&M Studio
All Women are Bad.mp3 ~ 1988 Home Demo
I Was a Teenage Werewolf.mp3 ~ Live at Max's Kansas City, 1/14/77
The Way I Walk.mp3 ~ Live at CBGB, 1/13/78
Human Fly.mp3 ~ Live at CBGB, 1/13/78
Baby Blue Rock.mp3 ~ Live at CBGB, 1/13/78
TV Set.mp3 ~ Live at CBGB, 1/13/78
Click here to check out the aforementioned Urgh performance of “Tear It Up."