I didn't know who The Cramps were until I saw their name on the soundtrack for the awesome zombie flick, Return of the Living Dead. (Gods, I love that soundtrack!) I probably wouldn't have known them for any more than my favorite song from that cassette ("Surfin' Dead") if it hadn't been for my friends, Dave and Walter. Thanks to them, I learned that there was more music out there than the early-to-mid-80's rock and heavy metal I was listening to at the time. Thanks to them, I added to my music vocabulary band names like The Dead Kennedys, The Dead Milkmen, The Ramones, Violent Femmes, Suicidal Tendencies, The Cure, and many others.
But the band that I was most attracted to, by far, was The Cramps. I listened to my copy of Bad Music for Bad People so much that I wore out the tape in less than a year. To this day I can't put my finger on it, but the band's music just appealed to me in a way none of the other music at the time did. Maybe, subconsciously, I was connecting with Lux's (and his wife/The Cramps guitarist Ivy's) love for pop culture, B horror movies, and what I guess you would call "schlock."
I eventually moved on to other genres of music, but The Cramps have always had a special place in my heart. That's why I was so saddened when I heard that Lux passed away this week. Here's the official press release:
Missed dearly, indeed.
For Immediate Release:
February 4, 2009
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.
It's one of my regrets that I never got to see The Cramps live - one of the really crappy results of living in the middle of nowhere is that very few decent bands include The Middle of Nowhere in their tour dates. On the up side, I have plenty of good memories associated with the band, mostly involving alcohol and teenage/young-20's mischief (which I'm glad I survived!); but always involving some really great, really cool, friends.
So, here's to you, Lux: Thanks for being there and supporting me during my late-onset teenage rebellion, and for providing the soundtrack for a truly memorable part of my life.