February 4, 2009 – Lux Interior (The Cramps) was born Erick Lee Purchaser in Stowe, Ohio on October 21st 1946.
He met his wife Kristy Wallace, better known as Poison Ivy, a.k.a. Ivy Rorschach, in Sacramento in 1972, when he and a friend picked her up when she was hitchhiking. The two shared a love for surf rock, shamanism, rockabilly, B-movies and other bits of so-called “trash culture.”
Lux Interior’s name came “from an old car commercial”, having previously flirted with the names Vip Vop and Raven Beauty, while his wife’s name change was inspired by “a vision she received in a dream”.
The couple called their musical style psychobilly, originally claiming it to have been inspired by a Johnny Cash song, “One Piece at a Time”, and later saying that they were just using the phrase as “carny terms to drum up business.”
The couple founded the band and moved from California to Ohio in 1973 and then to New York in 1975, where they became part of the flourishing punk scene, populated by the likes of the Ramones, Blondie and Television.
In 1987, there were widespread rumors of Interior’s death from a heroin overdose, and half a dozen funeral wreaths were sent to Rorschach. “At first, I thought it was kind of funny,” Interior told The Times. “But then it started to give me a creepy feeling. We sell a lot of records, but somehow just hearing that you’ve sold so many records doesn’t hit you quite as much as when a lot of people call you up and are obviously really broken up because you’ve died.”
Interior was known for a frenetic and provocative stage show that included high heels, near-nudity and sexually suggestive movements. His speciality was the microphone blow job, where he could get the entire head of an SM-58 microphone into his mouth. The Cramps gave their last show in November 2006.
The band’s 30-plus years on the punk scene spawned 15 albums, a seemingly endless tour schedule and an indelible influence on artists such as the Black Lips, the Reverend Horton Heat and Sacramento’s own (now-defunct) Groovie Ghouls. Their best known single was “Bikini Girls With Machine Guns”/”Jackyard Backoff” charted in both US and UK.
When asked why he continued to play live well into middle age, he told the LA Times:
“It’s a little bit like asking a junkie how he’s been able to keep on dope all these years, It’s just so much fun. You pull into one town and people scream, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you.’ And you go to a bar and have a great rock ‘n’ roll show and go to the next town and people scream, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.’ It’s hard to walk away from all that.”
In 2002 Lux Interior performed the voice of a character on SpongeBob SquarePants – the lead singer of an all-bird rock band called the Bird Brains. Interior was also a visual artist. In particular he was a 3D camera collector and enthusiast with which he created artworks and collages.
Lux Interior was 62 when he died on 4 February 2009 from a pre-existing heart condition.