Found out late last week that Lux Interior, the “Godfather of Psychobilly”, and lead singer of The Cramps died at the age of 62 in Glendale, California. Yes, that Glendale, California. Who knew that a rocking dude like Interior lived and died a few blocks from the place my brother calls home. Crazy…
Crazier still was the fact that it was my brother, Ryan, who first introduced me to Interior and The Cramps’ strange brew of classic rockabilly, punk, and straight up hilarity. I kid you not, amigos, the distinctive sound he created with founding bandmate, wife, and only permanent Cramp member, Poison Ivy, was insane.
Their music was gritty, raw, beautifully written, and filthy as the day is long. And though I loved a lot of the stuff my brother was grooving on in the mid-to-late-80’s (and still do…long live Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds!) The Cramps had a sense of humor that truly set them apart from some of the other dark-ass shit Ryan listened to back then.
I think he probably has all their best albums on vinyl or, horror of horrors, on…cassette tape, but the one Cramps CD I have is “A Date With Elvis”, and it rocks! I’m sure hardcore Cramps fans would tell you that “Elvis” was the band’s sell-out record, and maybe it is, but to me it was their most polished, lushly musical album and if you haven’t heard it, you owe it to yourself to check it out.
Christine and I have spent the whole weekend rediscovering it and, trust me, “A Date With Elvis” still packs a serious punch. From the jangly opening chords of “How Far Can Too Far Go?” to the children’s chorus is “People Ain’t No Good” and the swinging “South Pacific” vibe of the hilarious “Kizmiaz”, Interior and company prove themselves to be masters of not just the psychobilly genre, but straight up rockabilly as well.
And the way they recall some of the early Sun Studios work by fellow madmen like Rufus Thomas and The King himself in such songs as “It’s Just That Song”, “Cornfed Dames”, and “Can Your Pussy Do The Dog?” is freaking ingenious. And best of all, it’s just really good music. Seriously, you could dance all night to these songs. Hell, we did!
I guess the thing I found most shocking about Interior’s death was that he was so young, I mean, Joe Strummer, most of The Ramones, and then this…what the hell? Why all the good punk rockers gotta die so young, man? Sad…
Our thoughts go out to Interior’s widow, Poison Ivy, right now. I know it’s small consolation at a time like this, but here’s hoping you know what a huge impact you and your husband’s music had on these three impressionable youths. RIP, Lux Interior…long may you rock!