Thursday, February 05, 2009


I met Lux in 1981. I played drums in a Philadelphia punk band called the Sic Kidz and we opened a bunch of shows for The Cramps. Our singer was good friends with Lux and Ivy from the Max’s and CBGB’s days so I was welcomed into the Cramps inner sanctum right away. I say inner sanctum because they had to be careful who they befriended. Their music struck a nerve with some of the weirdest people I’ve ever seen. It also touched a lot of well balanced rock fans but they had to be cautious about opening themselves up to just anyone.

Watching Lux on stage was like watching the entire history of primitive rock and roll before your very eyes. The stage became an insane playground where literally anything could happen. And it usually did. He was totally committed to turning each venue into a temple of wild abandon and freedom. Mike stands were broken, blood was spilled, wine bottles flung, and female audience members molested. All within the first song! It was nuts. His sense of purpose was astounding. Truly incredible to witness. More than once, I was intimdated by his performance and found myself hesitant to go back and say hi.

But after each show, Lux would sit quietly in the corner of the dressing room talking about music and films with a big goofy smile on his face. He was very child-like, open and curious. And funny as hell. He and Ivy were the most voracious pop culture hounds I’ve ever met. Records, movies, books, comics, you name it. And it wasn’t just about the past either. In the mid-nineties I was hired as a sitcom composer for 3rd Rock From The Sun and the show became a hit. I figured then and there that my punk cred was shot. But one of the first people to congratulate me was Lux. He watched the show every week and loved it.

At one point in the early eighties, their drummer Nick got real sick. They had a summer tour booked and I was one of the people asked to consider filling in. I said yes of course but luckily the tour never materialized. I say luckily because I wasn’t as strong-willed and disciplined as Lux and Ivy back then. Every night their fans would line up at the dressing room door to offer them a veritable world of sinful opportunities. Drugs, sex and who knows what. Not that they were saints but wow, they could have easily gone the way of Charlie Parker or Johnny Thunders. The opportunities were there. But Lux believed in The Cramps way too much to let that happen. And he absolutely lived to be on stage.

The last time I saw Lux was in Spain. We were both on a bill at an outdoor festival being held in the middle of a field in Basque country. I did my set, chatted with him and then positioned myself in the photographer’s pit to watch them destroy the Spanish fans. And destroy they did. It was a cold night and steam was emanating from Lux’s body throughout the show. It was other worldly at times. When it came time to turn “Surfin’ Bird” into the unfinished symphony that only Lux heard in his head, I looked around and saw 30,000 delirious people going nuts. I knew right then that I was witnessing what they call a great “rock moment.” Which is what I felt every time I saw the Cramps. Today they would say that Lux “brought it.” Personally, I prefer to paraphrase James Ellroy and say this: “He didn’t just deliver a song, he came to your house and installed it!".

Thank you, Lux. Tell Elvis I said hey.

I am indebted to Ben for letting me share this. In the unlikely event that you haven't heard his music, I envy you that "first time effect" . It is primo, listen here.


Paul Kerr said...

totally crap news and hopefully Ivy is being comforted. If ever a couple seemed to be for each other.

Anonymous said...

thanks ben, that says it all.