Saturday, January 30, 2010

For the Love of Lux Interior

by Kim Morgan
Feb. 4, 2009

13 Reasons "She Said" The Cramps

1. Lux Interior in his growling, yowling, screaming, microphone sucking, high heel wearing glory was the ultimate macho fey and the Pied Piper of kink. No longer would I want just a rocker, I'd want a freaky, sleazy, degenerate rocker who could holler Hasil Adkins, borrow your pumps and quite possibly make out with both your sister and your brother when you weren't looking.

2. Poison Ivy remains one of my rock goddess Idols. The quintessence of too-cool-for-school, she'd stalk across the stage like a disinterested kitty cat -- slinky, sexy, unapproachable, perfect.

3. The Cramps blasted rockabilly out of the tired retro affectations of the perfectly coiffed, Eisenhower youth, rock-and-roll-at-the-hop-hop-hop-hop tedium. They knew Link Wray was a bad-ass. They worshipped crazy man Hasil Adkins. They dug the Sonics, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, The Ventures and they brought bump and grind to Jimmie Rogers. Fuck Fonzie. Long live Lux.

4. Poison Ivy got me into her idol, Bo Diddley's brilliant The Duchess. I bow down to her for this.

5. I didn't need to take drugs or get drunk to get high at a Cramps show (though that's fun too). They were also the perfect first date show. My longest relationship (now kaput) was aided by The Cramps (with Famous Monsters). A night of a new kind of kick indeed.

thecrampshires.jpg picture by BrandoBardot

6. For some reason, The Cramps always make me think of what Christmas should really be like. I always wanted to spend Christmas with The Cramps.

7. Poison Ivy inspired one of the greatest songs by one of my favorite bands, The Gun Club, aptly titled, "For the love of Ivy." It features the sublimely violent erotic line: "I'm gonna buy me a gun just as long as my arm."
8. Lux and Ivy actually make marriage seem like a good idea. They were the surprisingly clean living Charles and Morticia Adams of rock.

9. "Bend over, I'll drive, bend over I'll drive. Is this the way Ernie Kovacs died? Bend over, I'll drive."

10. The Cramps had great taste. Lux found rockabilly singers like Charlie Feathers, Sonny Burgess and Malcolm Yelvington as kindred spirits to his other major influence: the Surrealists. In an interview Lux stated: "Marcel Duchamp is quite an inspiration... Because he kind of single-handedly demolished all that had gone before, and made a brand-new art. Man Ray was great too... We're just people who remain ever-curious. We're just attracted to whatever comes in handy. Again, like the Surrealists, anything you run across is actually beautiful; within a single city block, you find miraculous things. It's a good planet -- and good things can happen." Beautiful.

11. Garage Punk, Psychobilly, whatever-the-hell. They were The Cramps.

12. The Cramps make you believe that sexy almost always has to be sleazy.

13. Lux Interior was Louis Prima to Poison Ivy's Keely Smith. He was speed to her heroin. The living to her dead. They were sickness, health, young and old. He's can't possibly be gone.

ROOTS OF THE CRAMPS #1: Charlie Feathers

Charles Arthur Feathers was born June 12, 1932 in Holly Springs, Mississippi, and recorded a string of popular singles like "Peepin' Eyes," "Defrost Your Heart," "Tongue-Tied Jill," and "Bottle to the Baby" on Sun Records, Meteor and King Records in the 1950s.

Feathers was known for being a master of shifting emotional and sonic dynamics in his songs. His theatrical, hiccup-styled, energetic, rockabilly vocal style inspired a later generation of rock vocalists, including Lux Interior of The Cramps.

He studied and recorded several songs with Junior Kimbrough, whom he called "the beginning and end of all music." His childhood influences were reflected in his later music of the 1970s and 1980s, which had an easy-paced, sometimes sinister, country-blues tempo, as opposed to the frenetic fast-paced style favored by some of his rockabilly colleagues of the 1950s.

He started out as a session musician at Sun Studios, playing any side instrument he could in the hopes of someday making his own music there. He eventually played on a small label started by Sam Phillips called Flip records which got him enough attention to record a couple singles for Sun Records and Holiday Inn Records. By all accounts the singer was not held in much regard by Phillips, but Feathers often made the audacious claim that he had arranged "That's All Right" and "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" for Elvis Presley and recorded "Good Rockin' Tonight" months before Presley. He also claimed that his "We're Getting Closer (To Being Apart)" had been intended to be Elvis' sixth single for Sun. He did, however, compose one of Elvis' Sun recordings, "I Forgot To Remember To Forget".

He then moved on to Meteor Records and then King Records where he recorded his best-known work. When his King contract ran out he still continued to perform, although Feathers - perhaps typically - thought there was a conspiracy to keep his music from gaining the popularity it deserved.

In the mid-1980s, he performed at times at new music nightclubs like the Antenna Club in Memphis, Tennessee, sharing the bill with rock-and-roll bands like Tav Falco's Panther Burns, who, as devoted fans of Feathers, had introduced him to their label's president.

He released his New Jungle Fever album in 1987 and Honkey Tonk Man in 1988, featuring the lead guitar work of his son, Bubba Feathers. These later albums of original songs penned by Feathers were released on the French label New Rose Records, whose other 1980s releases included albums by cult music heroes like Johnny Thunders, Alex Chilton, Roky Erickson, The Cramps, The Gun Club, and others. Colonel Robert Morris was one of Charlie's drummers in the 1970s. Feathers' song, "That Certain Female" was featured on the soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino's 2003 film, Kill Bill Vol. 1. His "Can't Hardly Stand It" was featured on the follow-up Kill Bill Vol. 2 soundtrack.

He died on August 29, 1998 of complications from a stroke-induced coma. (Wikipedia)

Although rockabilly pioneer Charlie Feathers never achieved commercial success, he was present at the creation of the form. Feathers himself hints that a mysterious, undisclosed "conspiracy" denied him maintstream fame; today he is a cult legend., living in Memphis in a little house with a white picket fence. Charlie loves to sit on his front porch, chewing and spitting tobacco.

Raised on a farm, Feathers quit school after the third grade, learned guitar from a black sharecropper, and worked on oil pipelines in Illinois and Texas as a teen. Moving to Memphis at 18, he contracted spinal meningitis and spent months bedridden, listening to the radio. Upon recuperating he concentrated on music. Feathers later claimed that he spent a great deal of time in the mid-Fifties at Sam Phillips' Sun studios, arranging some of Elvis Presley's early material. Though most of Feathers' assertions have been unsubstantiated, he did co-write Presley's "I Forgot to Remember to Forget" (#1 C&W, 1955). That year, his own debut single on Flip, "I've Been Deceived," showed the influence of Hank Williams, and from then until 1959, he recorded for Sun and smaller labels (King, Kay, and Walmay among them). Such singles as "Tongue-Tied Jill" and "Get With It" did little on the charts, but Feathers persevered, playing local roadhouses until gaining, in 1977, a gig at London's Rainbow Theatre that drew raves from rockabilly revivalists.

In the late Seventies, Feathers got the financial backing to start his own short-lived record label, Feathers, upon which he released a couple of albums and several singles. Frequently comic in tone his work was often straightforwardly country, but with 1991's "Charlie Feathers" (his only major label release) and the critical praise it provoked, it seemed apparent that Feathers will be remembered essentially as a great, early, if not widely known, rocker.

There is a excellent display on Charlie's memorbilia at the Memphis Music Museum on 2nd St., downtown Memphis.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Bio from

by Mark Deming

Conjuring a fiendish witches' brew of primal rockabilly, grease-stained '60s garage rock, vintage monster movies, perverse and glistening sex, and the detritus and effluvia of 50 years of American pop culture, the Cramps are a truly American creation much in the manner of the Cadillac, the White Castle hamburger, the Fender Stratocaster, and Jayne Mansfield. Often imitated, but never with the same psychic resonance as the original, the Cramps celebrate all that is dirty and gaudy with a perverse joy that draws in listeners with its fleshy decadence, not unlike an enchanted gingerbread house on the Las Vegas strip. The entire psychobilly scene would be unthinkable without them, and their prescient celebration of the echoey menace of first-generation rock & roll had a primal (if little acknowledged) influence on the rockabilly revival and the later roots rock movement.

The saga of the Cramps begins in 1972 in Sacramento, CA, when LSD enthusiast and Alice Cooper fan Erick Purkhiser picked up a hitchhiker, a woman with a highly evolved rock & roll fashion sense named Kristy Wallace. The two quickly took note of one another, but major sparks didn't began to fly until a few weeks later, when they discovered they were both enrolled in a course on "Art and Shamanism" at Sacramento City College. These two lovebirds were soon sharing both an apartment and their collective enthusiasm for the stranger and more obscure sounds of rock's first era, as well as the more flamboyant music of the day. Their passion for music led them to the conclusion that they should form a band, and Kristy picked up a guitar and adopted the stage name Poison Ivy Rorschach, while future vocalist Erick became Lux Interior, after short spells as Raven Beauty and Vip Vop. Ivy and Lux hit the road for Ohio, and after living frugally in Akron for a year and a half, they made their way to New York City in 1975 in search of stardom.

While working at a record store, Interior made the acquaintance of fellow employee Greg Beckerleg, who had recently arrived from Detroit and also wanted to form a band. Beckerleg transformed himself into primal noise guitarist Bryan Gregory, and even persuaded his sister to join the nascent combo as a drummer. However, Pam Beckerleg didn't work out on traps, and so Miriam Linna, an Ohio transplant who had gotten to know Lux and Ivy during their sojourn in the Buckeye State, finalized the first proper lineup of the band they called the Cramps. Between Ivy's twangy single-note leads, Bryan's shower-of-sparks reports of noise, Lux's demented banshee howling, and Miriam's primitive stomp, the Cramps didn't sound like anyone else on the budding New York punk scene, and the foursome soon began attracting both crowds and buzz with their shows at CBGB's and Max's Kansas City. After about a year of gigging in and around New York, Linna left the group (she would later co-found frantic cultural journal Kicks Magazine and exemplary reissue label Norton Records), and another former Ohioan, Nick Stephanoff (known to his fans as Nick Knox and previously a member of infamous Cleveland noise terrorists the Electric Eels) took over behind the drums, and this version of the Cramps released the group's first recordings, a pair of 7" singles recorded in Memphis with Alex Chilton as producer and issued by the band's own Vengeance Records label.

In 1979, Miles Copeland signed the band to his fledgling new wave label I.R.S. Records, and their first 12" release was an EP featuring the material from their self-released singles, entitled Gravest Hits. That same year, the band traveled to Europe for the first time, playing as opening act for the Police and stealing the show from the peroxide-addled pop stars many nights. The Cramps returned to Memphis with Chilton to record their first full-length album, 1980's masterful Songs the Lord Taught Us, but what should have been a triumphant U.S. tour following its release was scuttled when Gregory unceremoniously quit the band by leaving unannounced with a van full of their equipment; at the time, a story circulated that Gregory left the Cramps to pursue an interest in Satanism, though in later interviews Lux and Ivy said there was no truth to these rumors and his actions were more likely the result of his addiction to heroin. Lux, Ivy, and Nick opted to move the band to Hollywood, CA, and recruited Gun Club guitarist Kid Congo Powers to take over as second guitarist in time to record their second long-player, Psychedelic Jungle.

In 1981, the Cramps filed suit against I.R.S. Records over unpaid royalties; the court case prevented the band from recording new material for two years, and when they returned to America's record racks, it was with a live album, 1983's Smell of Female, recording during a pair of dates at New York City's Peppermint Lounge. Kid Congo amicably parted ways with the band shortly afterward, and the search for the right record company kept the Cramps out of the studio until the U.K.-based Big Beat label released the ultra-lascivious A Date With Elvis in 1986; while several guitarists had come and gone since Kid Congo, for these sessions Poison Ivy ended up overdubbing herself on bass. In 1987, the group finally found a simpatico bassist in the form of tough gal Candy Del Mar, whom Lux and Ivy met in the parking lot of a liquor store. Del Mar made her recorded debut on the live album Rockin n Reelin in Aukland New Zealand, and she was still on board when the Cramps finally signed a U.S. record deal with Enigma Records and recorded the fine and full-bodied Stay Sick! in 1990.

Only a year later, the Cramps were back with a new studio album, Look Mom No Head!, but in a surprising move Nick Knox had left the band, and was replaced by Jim Sclavunos; after Jim's short tenure with the group, Nickey Beat (aka Nicky Alexander, former timekeeper with the Weirdos) took over the drum throne before one Harry Drumdini signed on. Less startlingly, Candy Del Mar was also out of the lineup, replaced by Slim Chance, a one-time member of the Mad Daddys. Harry and Slim joined Lux and Ivy in 1994 for the Cramps' first major-label album, Flamejob, released by the Warner Bros.-distributed Medicine imprint. As usual, much touring followed, and the band even made an appearance on the popular youth-centric soap opera Beverly Hills 90210 in 1995. The Cramps' major-label period proved to be brief, with Cal-punk indie label Epitaph inking a deal with the group to release 1997's Big Beat from Badsville, which featured the same lineup as Flamejob.

In 2001, Lux Interior and Poison Ivy Rorschach celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Cramps by taking the matters of record-making into their own hands; they revived the long-dormant Vengeance label and reissued their entire post-I.R.S. album catalog (except for Flamejob) on expanded and remastered CDs and colored vinyl LPs. A new Cramps album followed in 2003, Fiends of Dope Island, which (of course) featured yet another personal change, with Chopper Franklin becoming the band's latest bassist. And with the Cramps continuing their unholy mission well into the 21st century, they offered their fans a look back with 2004's How to Make a Monster, a collection of rare live material and demos.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


The Trashmen are a rock and roll band formed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1962. The group's lineup was Tony Andreason on lead guitar and vocals, Dal Winslow on guitar and vocals, Steve Wahrer on drums and vocals, and Bob Reed on bass guitar. The group played surf rock which included many elements from garage rock.

The Trashmen's major notable hit was 1963's "Surfin' Bird", which reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the later part of that year. The song was a combination of two R&B hits by The Rivingtons, "The Bird's the Word" and "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow". The earliest pressings of the single credit the Trashmen as composers, but following a threat from The Rivingtons' legal counsel, that group was subsequently credited as composers. The song was later recorded by many artists, including the Ramones, The Cramps, Silverchair, Pee-Wee Herman, Equipe 84, and even the thrash metal band Sodom. 

The Trashmen went on to have other hit singles on the charts. In 1964, "Bird Dance Beat" hit #30 on the Billboard in the United States, as well as becoming a top 10 hit in Canada, and a mega hit in Brazil. Five other Trashmen singles charted, and overall they released 14 albums. They were prolific enough for a four CD box set of their work to be released later.

The group disbanded in 1967 but reunited in the 1980s, they played together until the death of Steve Wahrer, who died of cancer in 1989[2]. Tony Andreason's brother, Mark, filled Steve's shoes as drummer. In 1999, The Trashmen played in Las Vegas, Nevada at The Las Vegas Grind to a full house. Since then, they have reunited to play select gigs including Chicago (July 2007), Spain (September 2007), Chicago (November 2007), Wisconsin, and Cleveland (March 2008). The Trashmen played for the first time in over a decade in their homestate of Minnesota, when they played the birthday bash for KOZY (AM) Radio at the Reif Center in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The Trashmen returned to Grand Rapids, where they played in 1964.

They have since been touring Europe and the US with successful 2009 gigs in Germany, The Netherlands, France, Spain, Belgium, Italy, and Austria, with many more playdates on the calendar. (Wikigoddamnpedia)

Kid Congo Powers Pays Tribute to Mentors
Nov 30th 2009

by Julian Marszalek

Most artists are lucky to play with - at a stretch - just one decent band yet Kid Congo Powers has had more good fortune than most having contributed his idiosyncratic guitar sound to psychobilly pioneers the Cramps, the influential blues-punk outfit the Gun Club and also Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. An impressive track record by any standard, the guitarist has paid tribute to his former mentors.

Playing the legendary 100 Club Sunday night (Nov. 29) with his current band, the Pink Monkey Birds, Kid Congo was moved to praise the late Cramps front man Lux Interior.

Introducing a version of 'I'm Cramped,' Powers said, "I wanna thank Lux Interior for this. I wanna thank him for the music and the photography and everything. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be here. Actually, none of us would be here tonight!"

He also paid tribute to the Gun Club's deceased leader Jeffrey Lee Pierce by tearing through the band's classics 'Sex Beat,' 'For The Love of Ivy' and an instrumental version of 'Mother of Earth.'

The Gun Club's influence is keenly felt to this day, most notably on the White Stripes who have also been known to play the band's 1981 debut album, 'The Fire of Love', its entirety prior to taking the stage. Singer-guitarist Jeffrey Lee Pierce died in 1996 after suffering a brain hemorrhage.

The Cramps' Lux Interior passed away on Feb. 4 this year.

Spotted in the crowd at last night's concert were Spiritualized's Jason Pierce, Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie and Power's former Gun Club colleague, bassist Rom Mori.