LOS ANGELES (AP) â Lux Interior, co-founder and lead singer of the pioneering horror-punk band the Cramps, has died, the group's publicist said. He was 62.
Interior âborn Erick Lee Purkhiser â died Wednesday of a pre-existing heart condition at a hospital in Glendale, Calif., publicist Aleix Martinez said in a statement.
Interior, born in Stow and raised in Akron met his future wife Kristy Wallace aka Poison Ivy in Sacramento in 1972 reportedly while she was hitchhiking.
The pair who shared a love of obscure and odd early rock n' roll moved back to Akron for a few years before going to to New York in 1975 where they became Cramps with Interior on lead vocals and Ivy (then known as Poison Ivy Rorschach) on guitar.
The group became one of the more flamboyant parts of the late 70s early punk scene centered at the Manhattan clubs like CBGB alongside acts like the Ramones and Patti Smith.
Their unmistakable sound was a synthesis of punk's lo-fi aesthetic, rockabilly, reverb drenched surf guitar and mutated blues riffs staged with a deviant dose of midnight and B-horror movie camp. The band initially dubbed their macabre yet always fun musical combination as ``psychobilly,Â´Â´appropriated from a Johnny Cash song and it became a musical submovement that still exists, though The Cramps eventually eschewed both the term and the scene they inspired.
The pale, tall, gaunt Interior, usually appeared shirtless onstage with his jet black hair and tiny, low-slung black pants, looking part emaciated zombie, part Elvis Presley as he crawled and writhed his way across the stage often stripping down to his underwear and flinging himself around the stage with Iggy Pop like abandon unleashing his wild, primal wail, demented yowls and hiccups and exagerated annunciation. Like many Northeast Ohio bred rockers who came of age in the 1960s Interior was heavily influenced by legendary Cleveland television personality Ernie ``GhoulardiÂ´Â´ Anderson for whom the band dedicated their 1997 album Â§li Big Beat From Badsville Â§lf to Ghoulardi and Interior once Dj'd at a Hollywood radio station as "The Purple Knif" one of Ghoulardi's ALIASES and named their 1997 album "Stay Sick" after Ghoulardi's sign off.
The group had the raw intensity of punk but took the music in strange new lyrical directions by incorporating theatrical and campy horror-themed elements, in songs like "I was a Teenage Werewolf" and "Bikini Girls with Machine Guns," and one of their better known songs Â§li Human Fly. Â§lf Their debut EP was 1979's "Gravest Hits."
The Cramps spent much of their 30 plus years together on the road including a notorious appearance at a California mental institution, Napa State Hospital, in 1978 where Interior's maniacal stage presence incites several of the paitents. The performance, whose video is still popular on YouTube, was a punk-era echo of the Folsom Prison concert of Johnny Cash.
Interior was widely rumored in 1987 to have died from a heroin overdose, and his wife received flowers and funeral wreaths.
"At first I thought it was kind of funny" he told the Los Angeles Times at the time. "But then it started to give me a creepy feeling."
The Cramps' lineup changed often through the decades but Interior and Ivy remained the center. Their bluesy, trebly soundâthey didn't use a bassist on their early recordingsâresonates in modern minimalist groups like the White Stripes and the Black Lips.
The band's last release was the self-released 2004 rarities collection Â§li How to Make a Monster, Â§lf and though they met with little commercial success, their influence and dedication is deep and wide enough to be acknowledged by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame which has on display a bass drum that Interior shoved his head through during a show.
Interior is survived by Wallace, his wife of 37 years and his brother Michael Purkhiser of Akron.
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."
Gravest Hits EP (1979)
Songs The Lord Taught Us (1980)
Psychedelic Jungle (1981)
Here's the classic Napa State concert
and some more!