I can’t remember the last B-list rock star death that garnered as much publicity as Lux Interior’s did. It started out as a posting on one blog on Wednesday, and that was enough to start the internet buzz going. Once it was confirmed, it sent shockwaves through hipster land.
But the press couldn’t even get the details right. He was listed as being 60, 61 and 62 years old at the time of his death, depending on which story you read. Which was it?? (answer: he was 62)So much for research!
Lux formed The Cramps in 1972, and they were still active at the time of his death. How many bands can claim that they’ve been around for 37 years? The band’s heyday had come & gone many years ago; they had pretty much stopped recording (their last CD of new material was five years ago), but they still toured every year.
It seems like every time I saw The Cramps, something messed up ALWAYS happened. It was complete bedlam on stage, with the crowd joining in on the chaos. The first time I saw them, a guy jumped on stage at the very end of the show, stole two jungle spears that were displayed in front of Nick Knox’s drum kit, and ran out the front door of the club with them (with a roadie chasing after him). The second time I saw them, Lux came out for the encore naked, and proceeded to climb up to the balcony of The Ritz and started making out with a woman up there. The last time I saw them, my friend & I got VERY drunk beforehand, and somehow came up with the bright idea of sneaking into the side door of the Peppermint Lounge (when it had moved downtown on Fifth Avenue), and got physically thrown out right after we got inside (undaunted, we picked ourselves up, went around to the front door, & paid our way in).
Once the spotlight fades, a lot of musicians will hang it up & form other bands, or go into other lines of work. At a certain point, if you haven’t reached a level of commercial success that affords you the opportunity to live comfortably & to throttle back on recording & touring, your average rock musician will throw in the towel & head into the “straight” world. John Maher of the original Buzzcocks line-up went on to open a Volkswagen performance tune-up shop; Bryan Gregory, a member of The Cramps original lineup, ended up running a porn store in LA.
Lux & his wife of 37 years, Cramps guitarist Poison Ivy, left the straight world in 1972 and never looked back. They are one of the few bands from the original punk era of the mid-70’s who never quit, never gave up. They may have uprooted & moved to LA, and spent quite a bit of time buying & selling cool funky stuff, but they were the real deal. I guess at a certain point Lux & Ivy looked in the mirror & said “hey, what the hell else are we gonna do?” Lux lived to a ripe old age (as far as rock stars go, at least) living his rock ‘n’ roll dream, with his long-time wife right beside him on stage every night.
Good for him. And even better for us. They were a band almost without peers. Thanks for a bunch of great records, some amazing live shows, and a whole lotta good memories.