WFMU BLOG: Lux Interior, lead singer of The Cramps, passed away this morning due to an existing heart condition at Glendale Memorial Hospital in Glendale, California at 4:30 AM PST today. 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. The Cramps emerged from the original New York punk scene of CBGB and Max’s Kansas City, with a singular sound and iconography. Their distinct take on rockabilly and surf along with their midnight movie imagery reminded us all just how exciting, dangerous, vital and sexy rock and roll should be and has spawned entire subcultures. Lux was a fearless frontman who transformed every stage he stepped on into a place of passion, abandon, and true freedom. He is a rare icon who will be missed dearly. The family requests that you respect their privacy during this difficult time. MORE
LA TIMES: Lux Interior, the singer, songwriter and founding member of the pioneering New York City horror-punk band the Cramps, died Tuesday. He was 60. Interior, whose real name was Erick Lee Purkhiser, died at Glendale Memorial Hospital of a previously-existing heart condition, according to a statement from his publicist. With his wife, guitarist “Poison” Ivy Rorschach, Interior formed the Cramps in 1976, pairing lyrics that expressed their love of B-movie camp with ferocious rockabilly and surf-inspired instrumentation. The band became a staple of the late ’70s Manhattan punk scene emerging from clubs like Max’s Kansas City and CBGB and was one of the first acts to realize the potential of punk rock as theater and spectacle. Often dressed in macabre, gender-bending costumes onstage, Interior evoked a lanky, proto-goth Elvis Presley, and his band quickly became notorious for volatile and decadent live performances. MORE
THECRAMPS.COM: It would be almost impossible to have never heard of The CRAMPS. Their career has been the stuff of legend. Dangerously bizarre but most of all cool, The CRAMPS represent everything that is truly reprehensible about rock’n’roll. Founding members Lux Interior (the psycho-sexual Elvis/Werewolf hybrid from hell) and guitar-slinging soul-mate Poison Ivy (the ultimate bad girl vixen) are the architects of a wicked sound that distills a cross of swamp water, moonshine and nitro down to a dangerous and unstable musical substance. In the spring of 1976, The CRAMPS began to fester in a NYC apartment. Without fresh air or natural light, the group developed its uniquely mutant strain of rock’n’roll aided only by the sickly blue rays of late night TV. While the jackhammer rhythms of punk were proliferating in NYC, The CRAMPS dove into the deepest recesses of the rock’n’roll psyche for the most primal of all rhythmic impulses — rockabilly — the sound of southern culture falling apart in a blaze of shudders and hiccups. As late night sci-fi reruns colored the room, The CRAMPS also picked and chose amongst the psychotic debris of previous rock eras – instrumental rock, surf, psychedelia, and sixties punk. And then they added the junkiest element of all — themselves. Their cultural impact has spawned a legion of devil cults and dance-floor catfights, and created in its wake a cavalcade of cave-stomping imitators. As punk rock pioneers in the late seventies, they cut their teeth on the stages of CBGB and Max’s Kansas City and recorded their first record at Sam Phillips legendary Sun Studios, funded mainly by Ivy’s income as a dominatrix in NYC. They coined the now popular term “psychobilly” on their 1976 gig posters. Their hair-raising live performances are still a total, no-holds-barred rock’n’roll assault. After a quarter century of mayhem, they’re too far gone to even consider any other course. MORE
THE CRAMPS: Live At Napa State Mental Hospital
MIND HACKS: During a 1978 tour, psychobilly punk band The Cramps created one of the strangest moments in the history of both rock n’ roll and psychiatry when they played a gig inside Napa State Mental Hospital. It’s hard to believe it actually happened. The story sounds more like an exaggerated rock legend than an account of a real concert, but no suspension of disbelief is needed. Someone filmed the gig. We can only guess how the band got permission to play inside one of California’s biggest mental institutions, but play they did, to a few supporters and a fired-up crowd of psychiatric inpatients. The footage is grainy, black and white, and chaotic; the onlookers look bemused at first, a few start dancing, a few just wander. As the first song fades, the lead singer, Lux Interior, addresses the crowd: “We’re The Cramps, and we’re from New York City and we drove 3,000 miles to play for you people.” “Fuck you!” a patient yells back. He cracks a smile. “And somebody told me you people are crazy! But I’m not so sure about that; you seem to be all right to me.” The gig ascends into pure punk rock chaos. Patients jump on stage and pogo like they were Saturday night regulars. Lux suddenly duets with a member of the crowd who grabs the mike and adds her own improvised lyrics to the mix. One song finishes with the lead singer sprawled on the floor with two female members of the audience. One of them shouts “I got the Cramps!” MORE
BOLLOCKS: Jonesy On The Dole; Rotten Buttered; Sid Still Dead
LOS ANGELES TIMES: It’s come to this — a Sex Pistol drives a Prius. On a recent crisp afternoon, Steve Jones, the guitar architect of London punk in its primacy, zipped down Hollywood Boulevard in his shiny white hybrid Toyota, which is customized with a rooftop image of her majesty Queen Elizabeth, a safety pin jutting from her lip. And you thought punk rock was dead.
Even with the distraction of nubile young tourists strolling up the Walk of Fame, Jones was in a melancholy mood. You see, like so many people in America these days, the 53-year-old rock star turned radio DJ is looking for a job. Jones joined the ranks of the unemployed on Jan. 17, when Indie 103.1, the scruffy but revered L.A. rock station, became a victim of a vicious downturn in advertising revenue. For five years, the Sex Pistol had been the gloriously unpolished voice of “Jonesy’s Jukebox,” an eccentric and unpredictable two-hour lunchtime show on which he played any obscure record he wanted, chatted up famous guests or just, well, whistled.
The show was rebroadcast in the late afternoon, and its pirate soul became the signature of a station that Rolling Stone, Esquire, Spin and other national magazines celebrated as the best commercial radio outlet in the nation. Jones had plenty of war stories: Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, for example, dropped by to recount her 1970s sexual escapades with the Sex Pistol. “You won’t hear that on KROQ,” Jones said, referring to the rock powerhouse station in Los Angeles that is far more slick in its approach.
Might KROQ be a home for Jones? He won’t say whom he has talked to, but he’s decided to limit his choices to L.A. or New York. If a good fit doesn’t present itself, Jones has talked about going on tour with Iggy Pop and the Stooges — the band’s guitarist, Ron Asheton, died last month at age 60, and having an old friend take his place might help the band soldier on. MORE
RELATED: Dairy Crest spent £5m on the campaign featuring the singer, better known by his alter ego of Johnny Rotten. The company said the promotion of its Country Life butter by the punk legend under the “Great British Butter” slogan led to an 85% leap in sales of its spreads in its third quarter. The TV advert features Lydon, who now lives in Los Angeles, mocking the British way of life; frowning at morris dancers and getting chased by cows. He then delivers the payoff line: “Do I buy Country Life because it’s British? No I buy it because it’s great butter.” The campaign works because it mocks the picture postcard ideal of Britain, while reinforcing the Britishness of the product. MORE
QUESTION: Why Is This Man Selling Car Insurance?
SKY NEWS: Mark Allen, Dairy Crest chief executive, said the advert had “delivered increased brand awareness.” Ironic celebrity endorsements have come into fashion recently with ad agencies pairing leftfield figures with mainstream brands. The best known recent example is another punk icon, Iggy Pop. The singer is currently appearing on screens promoting swiftcover.com in the unlikely role of car insurance salesman. Ad experts say the reason the ads work is that this new breed of celebrity endorsement is fronted by memorable and unlikely figures, rather than publicity hungry Hollywood stars. MORE
MCCLAREN: No Way Sid Killed Nancy
MALCOLM MCLAREN: Punk Rock created a new kind of teenage angst. Sid [Vicious] embodied this in his sound and stance. To watch him was to watch a naïve, vulnerable, sad, beautiful and ugly teenager being loved for doing something different. He lowered the bar of entry and allowed everyone into the creative process. The line between the audience and band was blurred. Sid was once the Pistols fan who invented the Pogo (a dance involving jumping in once place and thrashing about). It created chaos, threw the fan at the feet of the band and suddenly, the fan was the center of attention and the star. Sid spelled trouble wherever he went—a wicked, sexy kind of trouble you can’t resist. He was the ultimate DIY Punk Idol: someone easy to assemble and therefore become. Sid didn’t just wear the clothes; he acted them. He single-handedly reinvented the classic Havana tuxedo into an outlaw costume by styling it with a pair of black drainpipe jeans and what would become the ubiquitous Punk garter that he wore so sweetly around his left thigh.They said he was capable of anything.
But to kill Nancy? I was stunned when I first heard this and I still can’t believe it. Sid was capable of a wide range of self-destructive acts, but I didn’t think that he could kill someone, especially his girlfriend, unless it was a botched double suicide. No! I don’t believe Sid killed Nancy. She was his first and only love of his life. As everyone knows, you may argue with your first (he lost his virginity to Nancy), sometimes might want to beat their brains in, leave them, move on, and be with others—but you never get over them. No. Sid was the sucker. The stupid, clumsy fool that night at the Chelsea Hotel. He passed out on the bed, having taken fistfuls of Tuinal. All around him, drug dealers, friends of Nancy came and went from Room 100. Money was stolen and Sid’s knife (similar to that of 007’s) was taken from the wall where it was hung and seemingly used by someone defending themselves in a struggle with Nancy. Nancy was no pushover. I tried having her kidnapped in London and put on a plane back to New York. Probably, she caught this person stealing money from the bedroom drawer.
I was positive about Sid’s innocence and acquittal. But Sid’s trial was going to cost a fortune, and with the Sex Pistols account drained, I thought he could sing for his supper at the Sands in Las Vegas and pay the bills. Sid already had several hits under his belt—covers of Eddie Cochran’s “C’mon Everybody” and “Something Else” as well as “My Way.” During the preparations for Sid’s trial, my conversations with various promoters had me contemplating Sid performing in Las Vegas. After all, Sid was the only Punk candidate who could fill Elvis’s shoes. Sid’s mother, Anne, was kind enough and helped him wherever she could. A small-time drug dealer, she smuggled heroin in her vagina to Sid at Riker’s Island, a detention center in New York where he was awaiting trial for the murder of Nancy. A dutiful mother, she aided him in his last breath, killing him, and killing herself years later. MORE