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The Cramps' Lux Interior dies, aged 62


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The theatrical, macabre frontman of the cult garage-punk band has died from a previously existing heart condition

[smaller]Rosie Swash | guardian.co.uk | Thursday 5 February 2009 | Link[/smaller]

Lux Interior, the founding member of garage punk band the Cramps, has died aged 62. Interior, whose real name was Erick Lee Purkhiser, passed away on 4 February at Glendale Memorial Hospital in California. He had suffered from a previously existing heart condition.

Interior was the theatrical, macabre frontman of cult punk-rock group the Cramps. He founded the band in 1973 with his wife, Poison Ivy, whose real name is Kristy Wallace, and quickly became a staple of the New York punk scene. The band's music fused their love of horror B-movies with rockabilly and surf rock, and their influence can be heard in bands such as the White Stripes, My Bloody Valentine and the Horrors.

The Cramps recorded their debut EP, Gravest Hits, in 1979 and continued touring and recording, albeit with a revolving lineup, until 2004. Interior and Poison Ivy were the only constant members of the group. They were notorious for their flamboyant, fetishistic live shows, and once infamously played a show for patients at Napa State Mental Hospital in Sacramento.

False rumours that Interior had died of a heroin overdose circulated in 1987, with fans sending wreaths to his home after hearing the news. "At first, I thought it was kind of funny, but then it started to give me a creepy feeling," the singer told the Los Angeles Times. "We sell a lot of records, but somehow just hearing that you've sold so many records doesn't hit you quite as much as when a lot of people call you up and are obviously really broken-up because you've died."

Sadly, a statement confirming his death earlier this week is no hoax. He is survived by Wallace, his wife of 37 years. A statement from the Cramps' media representatives reads: "Lux has been an inspiration and influence to millions of artists and fans around the world. He and wife Poison Ivy's contributions with the Cramps have had an immeasurable impact on modern music. He is a rare icon who will be missed dearly."

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Leaving aside some of the most preposterous journalistic hyperbola I've ever heard - if their influence can be heard in the oeuvre of My Bloody Valentine then I'm Paris Hilton - The Cramps and Lux Interior are legendary. When I first came to Leeds in 1983, it was Goth City Central- The Sisters Of Mercy had recently begun to make their mark and the place was awash with theatrical, macabre blackness, almost wherever you looked. Psychobilly was also a very popular genre at the time, at least among the "alternative" types. The Cramps (along with the likes of The Gun Club, The Birthday Party, Alien Sex Fiend) straddled these two genres perfectly, so they were always a popular feature at Leeds' alternative "hotspots"- The Phonographique, The Warehouse, even the Poly Bop. I was neither goth nor psychobilly, but I must have cut a rug to "Human Fly" or "Goo Goo Muck" - on a heaving dancefloor, no doubt- a fair number of times.

There is no doubt that The Cramps were both unique and significantly influential, (just not on My Bloody Valentine). Lux may be dead (technically), but his legend surely lives on.

"He is a rare icon who will be missed dearly."

"Goo Goo Muck"

"Can Your Pussy Do The Dog?"

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I was a fan of The Cramps in the ealy eighties, I saw them live and it was, no doubt, something different... Lux and Poison were the trendy couple among the punks, but they were much too underground to be considered just as punks. They were rather a mix of kitsch, garbage and erotica.

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