Today we are looking at the gold garage rock music of the Cramps with some videos featuring an interview and some of the better-known tracks of the cramps. The 1970s were a Transitional time in Music. If the music itself wasn’t changing the lineups of many bands were. Critics’ sights were one eye focused on the mainstream and one eye watching The Underground and it was there that the music world released the beast that is the cramps.
The Underground for my money was where the Truth lived. The Creature From the Black Lagoon had to come from the muck to board a yacht to Kill everything breathing. It’s the Natural order of things.
The Cramps were born of this time and we should Rejoice. Lux Interior and Wife Poison Ivy conceptually began The band in 1972 and as things grew by the mid-seventies they were busting out from Akron, Ohio to the New York Punk scene. The alphabet had changed from ABCD to CBGB OMFUG. Bryan Gregory was Filling in the gap of sound as this was a band that ran on two excellent Guitarists and a Spinal Tap change of Drummers. Bass? We don’t need any Stinking Bass…for now, we can make gold garage rock without it.
GOLD GARAGE ROCK The Cramps Don’t eat stuff off the sidewalk
Ivy was my idea of The Dream wife. The Beautiful, Sinister Guitarist and one more disciple of Link Wray. She always pulled the perfect Rock n’ Roll Sound out of one Gretsch model or another. Bryan had the Gibson Flying V and between the two is was a duo hard to top.
Lux Interior was an unhinged frontman with a method to his madness. As he quoted in the song “Garbage Man” One half Hillbilly one-half Punk. The Man did not care what you thought. He might wear a leather bodysuit with women’s High Heels and end up almost naked with a mic in his mouth flapping his arms like a bird. This was a band to not be ignored and he made sure you didn’t and couldn’t ignore the show. He was Hip to Hasil Adkins and covered the Boone County West Virginia Genius’ “She Said” and the Guitars were alternating Duane Eddie, Dick Dale and on occasion the Yardbird’s “Rave up” approach. Anarchy. All Bets Off. In revisiting some of the music they might use these electric Guitfiddles as sonic tools, Scratching percussively pre Hip Hop DJ Record scratch and I have a pretty good bet to lay that Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine had a listen to this at some juncture.
The Cramps also had a wicked sense of Humor almost always present and in the songs, it glowed. They also combined Humor with a show of Big hearts as documented in their Travelling 3 thousand miles to Perform for the Patients in a California Mental Hospital. This video from 1978 shows the no-fear approach as they allowed the Patients to join them on stage, share the microphone and just have a bit of fun and freedom for a short period of time, which Having played a few Mental ward shows in my own history is a rare light in the mundane day to day existence.
Recordings and singles had been done in the first 6 years of the band, however late 79 and 1980 FINALLY brought a full LP “Songs the Lord Taught Us.” Shortly thereafter “Psychedelic Jungle” was released and these were the first two I ever heard. Sadly Bryan by the second record was out and living a Heroin Life. Kid Congo Powers stepped in on Guitar briefly until there became an almost 3-year legal issue regarding creative rights and Royalty debate with the man who signed them to the Fledgling I.R.S. Records.
1983 Brought them the ability to legally record again and “Smell of Female” was unleashed on the planet. By 1984 it was no longer an issue of Drummers as Nick Knox had been solidly seated, now it was Suitable for guitarists to work properly with Poison Ivy and a tour was canceled due to not finding “The One”.
The Cramps The Crusher
The Band persevered as Ivy has always been Criminally ignored as the Glue that held it all together, Not only a Masterful Guitarist but now playing Bass and generally steering the ship. She’s always been more a Powerhouse motivator, only to be viewed as a sex symbol.
The band worked Tirelessly no matter the approximate 21 band members who came and went, After all this was the Child of Lux and Ivy and they brought us 10 studio and Live albums, 2 EP’s, and 4 compilations.
The Cramps Interview
There will never be enough accolades for this band, although I was pleased to see and photograph an artifact Personally.
In honor of the success of the Cramps, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has on display a shattered bass drum head that Lux’s head went through during a live show.
On January 10, 2001, Bryan Gregory died at Anaheim Memorial Medical Center of complications following a heart attack. He was 49.
In 2002, the Cramps released their final album, Fiends of Dope Island, on their own label, Vengeance Records.
They played their final shows in Europe in the summer of 2006 and their last live show was on 4 November 2006 at the Marquee Theater in Tempe, Arizona.
On February 4, 2009, Lux Interior died at the Glendale Memorial Hospital after suffering an aortic dissection which, contrary to initial reports about a pre-existing condition, was “sudden, shocking and unexpected”.
The Cramps spawned many a band and will always hold a place in True Rock N’ Roll History. They worked for it, as Hard or Harder than anyone.
Poison Ivy should always be remembered not as “a cool Lady Guitarist”, But as a Guitarist who stood alongside anyone man or woman, and tore the air apart with some of the finest Guitar you’ll ever hear. Bryan Gregory’s History has Proven was in fact irreplaceable. Anyone who tried to step into his shoes could not wear them for long. The Cramps are as relevant today as ever and left a timeless body of work.
Rock music would be a lesser thing without them. There are no substitutes.