You Better Run We’re The Green Fuzz

Posted: February 6, 2009 in The Roper Files
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That’s it; I am declaring an official File23 state of mourning for a few days. Erick Lee Purkhiser A.K.A. Lux Interior of The Cramps has passed away this week (Wednesday to be precise) at the age of 60 and this world is a lesser place for it.

Wayne Kramer of MC5 once said that performing rock and roll was becoming a lost art and no one illustrated that point better than Lux Interior.
“Rock and roll is about drugs and f***ing” Lux would tell shocked reporters while in Washington DC hearings investigating rock lyrics and discussions about warning stickers were being conducted.

Lux Interior knew what Sun Records-era rock and roll was really all about: horny hillbillies hopped up on pills in a studio wailing their hearts and souls into a microphone. Primal screams uttered from beneath brows dripping with beads of sweat and misplaced locks of long greasy hair. Unapologetic roars of unbridled lust and testosterone-fueled angst rolling on a stage covered with spit, beer and broken glass. Living out of a suitcase in an endless chain of cheap motels on nameless back roads of Appalachian America. There’s talking the talk and walking the walk and when it came to good old-fashioned Elvis-shaking-his-hips-until-every-girl-in-the-audience-wet-herself Rock and Roll, Lux Interior did indeed Walk the Walk.

In interviews Lux never once glossed over Rock and Roll and what it was about and he sure didn’t on stage as well. The Cramps shows usually ended with one of two songs: the chaotic “Tear It Up”

or more often a 15-minute version of “Surfin’ Bird”

Lux was always accompanied on stage with his wife (Kristy Wallace A.K.A. Poison Ivy) who played guitar and co-wrote songs with Lux. The Cramps were often accused of being sexist, due to their suggestive lyrics ( “Can Your Pussy Do The Dog?”) but besides being a husband-and-wife duet who lasted and toured as an act together from 1976 to 2006 (!) they often employed female bass players. They released about a dozen albums and countless Eps and 45s and their performances were frequently bootlegged into countless vinyl and CD releases. They had a serious and devoted cult following despite a lack of airplay or commercial success in terms of selling records.

Lux never gave anything less than 100% in his performances, wailing his lungs out into a microphone which he often stuck in his mouth in a suggestive manner especially as he spazzed out on stage during the climatic show-stopper cover of Surfin’ Bird” Usually by this point of the show Lux would peel down to a black leather jock-strap or a leopard-skin Speedo while Ivy banged out a machine-gun barrage of chords, feedback in a glorious union of holy, sacred NOISE…

My mother had pretty strange tastes in music for a woman who taught Sunday School: Herb Albert, Tom Jones, Roy Orbison and I remember her shaking her ass around the living room with the vacuum cleaner listening to the Ventures as a child. But I’ll never forget her reaction when she walked in on me as I was watching URGH-A MUSIC WAR on cable one day and Lux was onscreen performing “Teenage Werewolf”

“What in the name of God….?” she asked in what I was pretty sure wasn’t feigned horror. I knew right then and there I had found a new favorite band..


RIP Lux Interior….1948- Feb 6 2009


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