Erick Purkhiser turned 60 last year along with my Mother. 1948 was the only thing that they shared in common, as my Mother grew up but Erick, better known as Lux Interior to you and me, failed to advance past the age of 16.
He liked comic books, horror movies, old Rockabilly records, scantily clad women and drugs. With hobbies like these and little incentive to blend in to the mainstream world, it is amazing that he survived. The majority of social rejects don’t make it too far. But Erick found his way to the stage, on the screen, and on television sets around the world, speaking directly to like-minded freaks with like-minded interests.
He picked up one of them hitchhiking. A chance meeting that turned into a lifelong love affair. Her given name was Kristy Wallace, but Erick helped her become Poison Ivy around the same time that he decided on his more appropriate name.
They liked Alice Cooper and the New York Dolls, but didn’t put any thought behind trying to play music themselves until they saw The Ramones. They figured that if four ugly looking dudes who could barely play their instruments could get a band together that captured the essence of those early rock ‘n roll records then, be-bop-a-lula, so could they.
Erick…um, Lux….would be Elvis, only uglier.
Kristy…uh, Poison…would be Scotty Moore, only prettier.
And the whole fucking thing would have to be mixed in with songs straight out of those movies they saw on the local Creature Feature horror show.
They called is rock music, but those that needed to put a new spin on such an old word called it “Psychobilly.”
Over the next thirty years the band this two formed barely moved an inch creatively. They didn’t need to, of course, because The Cramps would sound silly if they changed at all. It may have prevented them from garnishing the success that they most certainly deserved, but then again, what would have Ed Wood turned into had Plan 9 been a box office smash?
He wouldn’t have been Ed Wood, that’s for sure.
For anyone that saw the movie Urgh! A Music War, the first thing mentioned was Lux’s performance. Ms. Ivy played a primitive guitar pattern and drummer Knick Knocks laid down a repetitive shuffle. Lux commanded the stage and urged everyone to “tear this damn place up!” When the crowd didn’t oblige his wishes, Lux threw himself on the floor, hit himself with the microphone and eventually placed the entire head of it down his throat, screaming while it was lodged deep inside his gullet.
It was amazing.
It was memorable.
And now, that memory…along with any others that you may have been fortunate enough to see…is all we will have of Lux.