Interior was born Erick Lee Purkhiser on 21st October 1948 in Stow, Ohio.
He allegedly took his stage name from an old car commercial and formed The Cramps with guitarist and future wife Poison Ivy (real name Kristy Wallace) in Sacramento, California in 1973.
The Cramps Early Days Playing CBGB’S in New York
After a brief spell in Akron, Ohio, the pair pitched up in New York City in 1975. They would time their arrival to perfection, performing at influential clubs such as CBGBS and Max’s Kansas City just as Punk Rock hit New York with a vengeance.
Guitarist Bryan Gregory and drummer Nick Knox would soon complete what many refer to as The Cramps’ ‘classic’ line-up. This version of the band caught the attention of budding svengali Miles Copeland who duly signed them to his IRS label.
Recording with Big Star’s Alex Chilton in Memphis
The Cramps’ definitive early recordings were produced by former Big Star frontman Alex Chilton in Memphis. This proved an inspired move, with Chilton producing The Cramps’ seminal debut album Songs The Lord Taught Us at Phillips’ Recording in Memphis. This studio was owned by Sun Records founder Sam Phillips, the man responsible for Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash’s early hit records.
Songs The Lord Taught Us tapped into a similar, primeval garage rock’n’roll sound. Eschewing the need for a bass player, it took its’ cue from Rockabilly and the stinging surf guitars of Dick Dale and Link Wray and then blended in minimal drumming and Interior’s unearthly vocal howl. Its’ key tunes such as Garbageman and I Was A Teenage Werewolf sound every bit as infectious today.
Songs The Lord Taught Us and A Date With Elvis
A slew of fine records such as 1981’s Psychedelic Jungle would follow, but Gregory’s departure in the early 1980s would de-stabilise The Cramps (www.thecramps.com) and regular line-up changes would follow. Interior and Poison Ivy remained at the helm and oversaw great records like live album Smell Of Female (1983) and 1986’s A Date With Elvis, where a bassist (Candy Del Mar) would finally be introduced.
The rise of “Psychobilly” cult bands like The Meteors and Guana Batz showed The Cramps’ influence remained strong during the 1980s and the group’s longevity brought them further success during the 1990s. 1991 found them in the UK Top 40 for the first time thanks to Bikini Girls With Machine Guns. In 1995 they appeared playing songs in a special Halloween Episode of Beverly Hills 90210(www.imdb.com) entitled Gypsies, Cramps and Fleas.
The Cramps Influence on Jon Spencer and The White Stripes
The Cramps remained a popular live draw in recent years. Their last proper album was 2003’s Fiends of Dope Island. Interior’s energetic, Iggy Pop-esque stage antics remained a crucial part of the band’s appeal and there were few obvious signs that his passing was imminent.
Having influenced or anticipated groups such as The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and The White Stripes along the way, The Cramps brought a trashy, kitschy sense of fun to the rock’n’roll table to the very end. Lux Interior’s death has robbed music of a highly individual voice and he will surely be missed.