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Lux Interior : In Memoriam

On the anniversary of Lux Interior’s death, Mr BAD gathers some loving memories of the Cramps frontman.

Lux Interior

If you haven’t heard of The Cramps, go look ’em up. I’m not gonna go into any great detail about them here or list a discography or anything like that, although maybe I will change my mind, we’ll see. I merely wanted to stick in a few lines about Lux. Anything else, go ask the bartender.

Lux Interior, the lead singer of the Cramps, died on the morning of Wednesday 4th February 2009 due to a heart condition, he was 62. It was a very sad day for many people around the world and particularly for me as I had the pleasure of meeting Lux on a number of occasions.

The Astral Ascension of Erick Lee Purkhiser, aka Lux Interior, took place on 21st February 2009 at The Self Realization Fellowship, Lake Shrine in Los Angeles (a favourite hangout of Elvis, I read). In the service program, guitarist Poison Ivy wrote, “Lux seemed like a creature from another world, with one foot already out of this dimension. As much as we might wonder, ‘Where are you now?’ we can also wonder, ‘Where on Earth did you come from?’ Now that’s a mystery!”

Lux created the monster that was The Cramps together with Poison Ivy (Kristy Wallace) in the early 1970s. Legend has it Lux and a friend picked her up as a hitchhiker and they remained together ever since. After moving to New York they became an integral part of the scene that surrounded the notorious CBGB‘s. The Cramps’ music differed from much of the New York punk scene however, with its thick coating of B-movie inspired lyrics and tongue in cheek sexual innuendo. Needless to say they went on to spawn a whole new genre to which many of us gave our souls.

Coffins and Graveyard hits

I think the text from the liner notes of The Cramps’ 1979 release ‘Gravest Hits’ best sums them up.

‘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 (sic) 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’

J. H. Sasfy, Professor of Rockology.

It’s unusually difficult to talk about someone or something that so significantly changes your life and is now gone, but Lux and The Cramps did change things for me in a very pertinent way and I’m still not altogether sure if it was for better or worse. I do know it made my life very ‘different’ and pushed and pulled me to all kinds of strange places and situations, got me involved in fights, kicked out of school and sacked from jobs.


Lux Interior was a wonderful and complex creature. During the times I met him, I only once saw Lux angry and yelling (which was admittedly quite scary). He was mostly very polite and soft spoken. I think most folk who met him along the way will say what a really nice guy he was. I have my own crazy memories of him.  I remember delivering coffins filled with booze to his dressing room. You get some looks driving through London with a full size coffin on your roof rack, I can tell you.

Providing him with a coffin somehow became such an expected gesture when visiting him backstage that when I went to meet him before a show in Amsterdam and explained that I couldn’t get anyone to ship it, he threw open the dressing room door and dramatically exclaimed, “What no coffin?!” to Ivy in that booming Lux stage voice.

He showed me how to open beer bottles with quarters, invited me to crazy parties and gave me booze-fuelled rock ‘n’ roll shows.  He even named my firstborn son and I still have the album where he scrawled the name in biro – I call it his birth certificate.  There were also nice letters, weird phone calls and some other things that carry a hefty jail sentence that I can’t tell you here. It was all a whole lot of fun and will stay with me forever. I also got some really nice hugs and that is an enduring memory.

During one tour in the early 1990s, I was chatting with him backstage and he dropped into the conversation that he had been diagnosed with a hole in his diaphragm.  That didn’t stop him giving his all at the gig; the audience would never have guessed that there was anything physically amiss.

Lux Interior was just a lovely guy. He was passionate about life and passionate about what he did and he was someone who was so obviously in love with his woman.

There was an interview by Nicholas Barber in 1998, which I think is one of the nicest ones I have come across and worth reading here.

How did they meet?

She says. 

POISON IVY: “We were both studying art at Sacramento State College in the early Seventies. It was a very strange art department in Sacramento at that time, too, because the whole student population was made up of hippies, and they were into witchcraft and metaphysics and everything else. We met up in a class called Art and Shamanism.

The textbook for that class was called ‘The Sacred Mushroom and The Cross’, and the subject of that book is how the real topic of the Bible is the Amanita muscaria mushroom and that Christ is a metaphor for this magic mushroom. The kind of instructors we’d have would say: “I haven’t seen you in class for a while, what grade d’you want?” And we’d say, “Well, I guess an ‘A’ “, and they’d say, “Okay.” So those were crazy times. It was just a very loose, very unique situation, and we met in that environment. We met in a very free way, and we fell in love very quickly.

Lux Interior
The Hand of Lux, by Tav Falco

I’d just started college, and one day I was hitchhiking back from the campus to my apartment, when Lux and a friend of his gave me a ride. I’d seen him around the campus, and I thought he was extremely exotic. He would have these pants and each leg of the pants was a different colour. That kind of thing fascinated me. Because it was the beginning of the new term, we had catalogues to see which classes we were going to take, so we were comparing to see if we’d be in any classes together. It turned out that we were, and that’s where our real meeting began.

I was sitting in the Art and Shamanism class when I saw Lux walking in. It was a very large class, too, because everybody knew the teacher got high, and I was sending out psychic brainwaves of, like: “Sit by me! Sit by me! Sit by me!” And he did. He came straight to me and sat next to me. We were making small talk and I said, “It’s my birthday”, and he pulled a drawing out of his portfolio and gave it to me as a birthday gift right then. It was a female figure, but it was very abstract expressionist. It had a lot of physical energy that I can’t describe in words.

I don’t know if it was past lives or what, but I felt like I’d known him all my life. It wasn’t like we’d just met. We were just together constantly, and we were pretty much out of our minds constantly, to be honest. We didn’t come to the surface for quite a long time.

In certain astrology, both regular astrology and Chinese astrology, there’s some things that say that Lux and I, we shouldn’t be together, and the reason is that the function of the astrology was to maintain social order. It had to do with arranged marriages and how a certain man would belong with a certain woman because it would fit in with the social order and they wouldn’t cause trouble. And combinations that they said were bad, it didn’t mean that they wouldn’t get along or wouldn’t enjoy each others’ company; what it might mean is they’ll start a revolution or that they’ll cause trouble or that they’ll set things on fire. I think we’re definitely the kind of pair that they would have tried to keep apart, because together we cause a lot of upheaval. From our point of view, it’s creation. We’re creating things.

We’re not married. I don’t know what you’d call what we are. We’re deeply in love and feel like we’ve been together for more than this lifetime, but we’re not aware of any particular ritual that would consecrate it in a way that makes sense to us. We sure don’t need to make it any kind of institutionalised situation. Nature upholds our bond.
There’s not anything that we deny each other. I’ll always hear somebody say, “Oh, I’d like to buy that but my wife would kill me”, or vice versa, and I’m, like, “God, what is that?” We don’t feel that either one of us has any right to say anything about the other’s needs. We just have to trust that person and what that person is entitled to. Fortunately, we happen to like a lot of the same things, but even if we didn’t, that shouldn’t matter. We’re both real free thinkers. We’re nice to each other. There’s all those reasons why we’re together, but I think it’s also karmic. We’re karmically entwined.

He’s easy to love. He’s someone I can get crazy with, I knew that about him right away. I thought: “Oh boy, what’s gonna happen now? Something exciting!” It’s still happening.”

He Says.

LUX INTERIOR: “First time I saw her she was walking down the street, hitchhiking, and she was wearing a halter-top and short shorts with a big hole in the ass with red panties showing through. I was with this other guy, a friend of mine, and we both just went, “Who-o-o-oh!” We pulled over and I think I had a hard-on about three seconds after I saw her.

It was 1972, and we were at Sacramento State College, although saying it was a college is stretching it a bit. You’d get credit for going there and everything, but it was just a bunch of weirdoes. It was crazy. Half the teachers were just fucking the students and getting paid for it. It was really a great time, those days. Really a creative environment.

We had to register for our classes and we had this pamphlet in the car that told you what classes you could take, and one was called Art and Shamanism. I remember I said: “What is shamanism?” She explained it to me, and I thought, boy, that sounds pretty interesting, I think I’ll take that. And then when I showed up for that class she was there.

I remember the first day of that class, the teacher had us all sit around in a circle on the floor and hold hands. It was some kind of weird exercise, some mumbo-jumbo crazy cult thing where there was supposed to be energy which would fly around clockwise, and then he made it go counter-clockwise. It was great, it really worked, but just holding hands with her I felt about a thousand times the energy that I was getting from him.
She’s incredibly beautiful, that was the first thing I noticed. And then when I talked to her she was incredibly smart, too. We just had a bond. A week and a half, maybe two weeks later we started living together. We just couldn’t hardly stand to be away from each other. People would even tell us: “That’s not right, it’s not healthy, you guys shouldn’t be spending all your time together.” And they tell us that to this day.

It was a while on before the group actually happened. All my life I’d been to see rock’n’roll bands, but I’d never quite been in one myself until I met her. I remember her saying, “Well, we should do that”, and I’d say, “Well, yeah, I guess we could do that”, and she’d go, “Of course we could do it!” I think we just talked each other into it. Sometimes you have friends and they’ll talk you out of doing things. They’ll say: “You? Oh yeah, sure.” But the same thing can happen, you’ll meet someone who’ll talk you into doing things, too. If I hadn’t met Ivy I might just still be going to rock’n’roll shows.

She’s really courageous and she’s really smart. At first, when we started out we just wanted to have fun and we didn’t want to have anything to do with the business part of all this band stuff, but every time we’ve tried to have somebody manage us it’s been some kind of a bad experience, so she’s taken over managing the band and she really does it great. That’s why the Cramps are still around after all this time, because she cares about it and she’s capable of unbelievable acts.

This is our dream-child or something, this is something that we make and we do together, and we’re real protective of it. And we’re also appreciative of the fact that we invented this thing called the Cramps, and from that has sprung a subculture of people all over the world, and we feel we’re representative of them. We take that real seriously. We’ve thought about having children before, but we’ve always been so busy doing this, and this seems more important to us. We have three cats and we can’t even stand to leave them to go on tour. So I don’t know how we’d deal with a child.

We’re different in a lot of ways. I tend to fly off the handle and go crazy and start screaming and she tends to be a bit wiser and calmer and more patient than I am – before she starts going wild, too. I think she’s a lot classier than I am, but I think I’ve gained a lot of class from her. It’s hard to figure out how we’re different because we’re together all the time and we always do everything together. In a way it’s kind of one thing, me and her, but she’s also very much an individual and very strong. She grows like a tree. She’s faceted like a diamond. There’s a million sides to Ivy and I just love all of them.”

“Rock ’n’ roll has absolutely nothing to do with music. It’s much more than music. Rock ’n’ roll is who you are. You can’t call the Cramps music. It’s noise, rockin’ noise.”Lux Interior.

We all have our special memories of Lux.  If you have any, please feel free to share them below.

Byron Auberon Death (gravedigger and poet)


30 Replies to “Lux Interior : In Memoriam”

  1. furball11@sbcglobal.net says:

    Beautifully and truthfully written. Lux was a very kind, refined and rather quiet person by day. Then the lights would come up and the wine would go down. For a short time the Human Fly would appear. Quite fascinating and a privilege to be a part of. And a bit taken for granted by me, a 24 yr. old just passing through for kicks. The experience was a love/hate relationship that I still dream about and treasure to this day. I get about one visit per year. The last dream had to do with gearing up to go onstage, current day, I was not sure that I had something appropriate to wear. Not much if anything was said, but the feeling was peaceful and one filled with friendship, which is all that I could hope for, had I ever gotten the opportunity to see Lux again, 22 years later.

  2. Ratty says:

    A huge influence on my life and my rock n roll career…gone but never forgotten..we make sure we keep his bones rockin through our show!!!

    R.I.P ..LUX


  3. Kid Congo Powers says:

    Although I prefer to remember Lux on the day of his entrance into this world I cannot help but say that it is still shocking and sad that he has left this world even years later. However I am still having the pleasure of enjoying Lux’s music and influence on me in so many different ways. Like Jeffrey Lee Pierce, Lux shines bright in my smiling heart . Lux was was the best the beast the boss the blast . He still is in this world and certainly in that world.

  4. Hank Ray says:

    Congrats, Mr. Bad! Very nice write-up about my sadly departed teenage idol.
    Art and Shamanism sounds right up my alley, hahaha!
    Lux, you sure left some big boots to fill! May your soul rest in peace wherever you are, big man.

  5. Tav Falco says:

    LUX Interior – mentor, icon, and muse. Without Lux & Ivy, RL Burnside, and Xavier Cugat, there would be no Panther Burns as we know it today. I had a dream night before last – a long, lingering, detailed dream – of Alex and I getting ready for a show up in a hollow somewhere in Arkansas. Alex had made a short movie in black & white, and he showed it to me. LUX was in the film with his jet black hair pointed on end toward the cloudy heavens. In the midst of his stormy eyes, he exuded the precious milk of human friendship. LUX was a man who lived and breathed the music of the Cramps with its Artaudian strains and its embodiment of a southern Gothic cinema of the mind. He quaffed deep droughts from an elixir of devils that he passed around to those initiated into Euterpean mysteries. His music was derived from the moan and maniacal sway of wreck-a-billy pioneers, as he in turn became the postmodern neo-Promethean who lit the way for us across swirling rivers, foggy meadows, and the burned out pavements of Gotham. Lux leads us still in our eternal moon dance and heavens’s howl from our hearts, our guts, and our balls. – TF 2013
    Foto: Hand of Lux 1980 Memphis by TF.

  6. Pete Simonelli says:

    I still walk around and listen to “Garbageman” like it’s the first time, thinking, Jesus Christ! Play it again!

    Such a great, great song in every way.

    Lux will always be a hero to me. He is a singular, sheer voice and he is sheer rocknroll.

    Thanks for the great post, Mr. Bad. Well done!

    • Michele says:

      I feel exactly the same way about that song, you summed it up beautifully. 🙂

      I saw them in the basement of the old Cleveland Agora, it was one of the most amazing, anarchic shows I have ever seen. Godspeed Lux, you are missed.

      • bruce dunn says:

        I was at that show too! It was the Pop Shop. The space was called that. It was like seeing Elvis in 1954 or something, if you know what I mean…..

  7. wezil says:

    The sound track of my youth, and a true showman on stage! I never met Lux much to my eternal regret but the Brixton gig will will live on in my mind for ever!If I look hard iv’e probably still got the photos of the coffin ‘incedent’ somewhere. (on a mk4 Cortina if memory serves):) Hope he’s having one more ‘new kind of kick’ RIP lux!

  8. Col. Jon Burrows Jr says:

    The question here is, what record is Lux holding in that Tav Falco picture?

  9. Noisemaker says:

    Great piece on a lost icon. To say Lux & The Cramps changed my life and musical appreciation is an understatement. Luckily, I got to see The Cramps several times. Plus, when I lived in Ohio, I got to meet & know Mike, Lux’s brother…as Mike was in a band called The Walking Clampetts which I saw numerous times. One Christmas season, while attending a Clampetts show in a small dive..Lux & Ivy showed up and stood right next to me!!

    Any word on how or what Poison Ivy’s doing??

    Thanks for remembering Lux…

    curator of:



    • Col. Jon Burrows Jr says:

      Don’t forget ‘The Action’. As far as I am aware Ivy is doing fine. I know Mike has seen this article so maybe he would like to put a comment on here for the Lux fans. Mike ?

  10. Feyd Saif'ulisaan says:

    I left this same comment on the memorial pages. It was more than a decade ago in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and I was staying in this apartment block. Upstairs lived this gorgeous girl with china-blue eyes and long blonde hair to her ass. She was engaged to some other bloke, but I invited her to my apartment… and put on “Goo-Goo Muck”. She’d never heard The Cramps before and it siezed her by the innards and twisted. She started to bump and grind, then before either of us knew it, she was stark nekkid, and jumped into my lap. To me, that explains the power and mystery of The Cramps!

  11. spark retard says:

    loved the cramps were the wildest. made me get a band together there wouldnt be no demented are go with out the cramps rip

  12. rc Johnston says:

    Hiowdy!!! The Cramps and Lux will always rule!!!

    Cheers! Blind Brand X…!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. kyle says:

    lux is a god and though tears will be shed in his memory i’m sure they’ll be tears of joy, joy that he brought us all with his crazy antics and good natured personality although i didn’t discover the cramps till shortley after his passing they are one of my favorite bands have tought me one great life lesson: its okay to be wacky, you still get hot girls

  14. Loved this piece, I grew up in north London and read about Ivy when I was 12 in a book on women in rock, and, Lordy was it eye-opening! True originals The Cramps. RIP Lux xx

  15. knaith says:

    Queens Hall Leeds 1981 was the only time I ever saw the Cramps – Psychedelic Jungle had just come out, the music was amazing so cool, Lux was the ultimate front man, Ivy and Kid Congo with the twang and fuzz guitars with that thwacking snare drum – I was 16 and it truly changed my life

  16. Karry Briare says:

    You’ve spent a day in the woods or a day doing yard work when you brush against the leaves of a poison ivy or poison oak plant. Or maybe you didn’t notice the plants, but you’ve developed a streaky rash with red bumps that turn into weeping blisters. You can treat the itchy allergic reaction that comes from exposure to poison ivy and poison oak resins with either drugstore remedies, home remedies or prescriptions corticosteroids. The rash may last from 1 to 3 weeks, but the symptoms usually peak between the fourth and seventh days.-.^”

    See you real soon <http://www.healthmedicine101.com

  17. The Illustrious Jeffrey D. says:

    The first experience with The Cramps was at Urgh at the Olympic Auditorium in Cali. All the bands were great, but The Cramps just wrecked my psyche that night, the freedom of expression that was related through their onstage presence was extraordinary, I instantly transcended into something more than I was at the time, something bigger, braver, something within my soul was free, from that point on the freedom of self expression had no constraints, no flutters or hints of awkward restraint possessed me ever again. I think my third eye popped open that night. I’ve seen them so many times since then and always came away enlightened in a different way from each show. I remember one particularly savage show at Ichabods in Fullerton Ca. with Shattered Faith opening the show, Lux was giving it everything he had that night as usual, during Surfin’ Bird he had a look on his face like he was gonna pass out, he slumped over a bit and rested his head on my shoulder with the mic in his mouth, it was just for a moment, then he came alive again as if possessed by other worldly forces, I swear the energy that was coming off of him was intense! The news of Lux passing on Feb.4 for me was devastating, I felt a loss akin to a family member, I wept for his parting, but then loss became a joyous celebration of the life and influence he had on me, he is forever engrained in my heart, soul and mind, never to be forgotten. R.I.P Lux and much LOVE to Ivey Thank you for so many years of dedicating your heart and souls to pleasing your fans. You are truly Rock Icons. CRAMPED 4 EVER

  18. Chris M says:

    1987. I was 15, living in rural England, spending life at a boarding school run my monks. But I loved The Cramps. And I got to see them live at Reading Festival in 1990. I always figured I had good taste.


  19. What a great posting. We all saw the superhuman side of Lux, and this balances it out nicely. Those two were quite an inspirational team. What they have to say about their lives and each other is illuminating. I’ve been thinking of Lux a lot lately since I just saw a movie [Mud] with Michael Shannon in it. If ever an actor were born to play Lux Interior, he’s certainly the one! That got me wondering what anyone had posted about Lux lately and brought me here. With Kid Congo Powers and Tav Falco in the comments, we are in great company! A tip of the hat to Mr. Falco. I really enjoyed he recent reading and show.

  20. Kizmiaz rds says:


    Cramped !”

    Collective book
    Co-editor: Kizmiaz Records & Super Loto Editions

    Cramped ! is an illustrated anthology of the many bootleg recordings of the American band “The Cramps” who made their indelible mark on the history of rock and roll over a period of four decades since their inception at the end of the 1970’s.
    The book reads like a fan book, on one hand proposing an exhaustive list of pirate recordings of the band (including albums, singles, flexes, picture discs, box sets and even postcards), but also involving the participation of illustrators and comic book authors who have been inspired by the bands output over the years.
    The book itself comes in the form of a 45 vinyl and is accompanied by an album comprising covers of some “Cramps” classics by four bands equally inspired by this legendary group. The collection also includes a “Cramps” family tree, detailing the thirty or so musicians who have passed through their ranks.
    Cramped ! then is not only by the fans for the fans but also essential item for all lovers of authentic rock and roll.

    With the contribution of Winshluss (cover), Moolinex, Imius, Syd Dolby, Nicolas Moog & Matthias Lehmann, Pakito Bolino, Mattt Konture, Oudin Ojjo & Janus Ojjo, Vincent Wagnair, Bingo, Laure Del Pino & Olivier Josso, Romain Marsault (family tree).

    Music by Birds Are Alive, Brat Farrar, King Automatic, Magnetix.


    buy @ http://kizmiazrecords.bandcamp.com/album/kz023-cramped

    see you soon

  21. mike says:

    Ireland, 1988 approx, a car park and the cramps playing and teen girls dancing. Thanks Lux

  22. unlearny says:

    As a pre-teen seated before my TV/VCR, I recall the awe I felt when I watched The Cramps perform in the film, Uurgh! A Music War!

    The clear winners to me, and many audience members, (I heard from a friend who attended the screening) of the live showing of the film, The Cramps personified the possibility that something really wild could happen in the world, if the world would just let it.

  23. Knif says:

    No more time to rhyme and shout
    Daddy disappears
    the wiggy light

  24. Paul says:

    Thank you Lux for exposing me to so much music that I would have never experienced. Meeting you and Ivy was beyond my expectations. Seeing you live so many times kept me interested in seeing live music. There will never be a live band like the Cramps. You made so many people happy and when I looked around at the crowds all I saw were smiles because you had “it”. Music will never be the same.

  25. Lux and Ivy were the couple that truly inspired my rock’n’roll world. I compiled the first complete online archive for the Cramps (with some help). Big John Bates & the Voodoo Dollz was my rock’n’roll/burlesque homage to their spirit and we followed the mad swath they cut around the world. I’ve quit jobs to see them play, Ivy signed and kissed the pickguard of my White Falcon and I still have the mic stand Lux wrapped around his noggin the last time I saw them in Seattle. I still feel the passion provoked by their amazing visions as if it was new.

  26. Vixen says:

    Class. Passion. Freedom. Intelligence. Beauty. Art. Soul. Sex. Love. Thank the Universe for Lux and Ivy.

  27. B. Lodermeier says:

    That Lux and Ivy were together for 37 years is no mean feat in itself. So sad she has to be without him. Loved the Cramps!

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