It Thing Hard On: The Cramps Revisited


The Cramps were an American garage punk band formed in 1976 and were active until 2009. The band split after suffering the death of lead singer Lux Interior.[1] Their line-up rotated much over their existence, with the husband and wife duo of Interior and lead guitarist Poison Ivy the only permanent members. Guitarist Bryan Gregory and drummer Pam Ballam rounded out the first complete lineup in April 1976.

They were part of the early CBGB punk rock movement that had emerged in New York. The Cramps are noted as influencing a number of musical styles: not only are they one of the first garage punk bands but also by being the first known band to blend punk rock with rockabilly, The Cramps are widely recognized as one of the prime innovators of psychobilly, and they inspired many of the early goth rock bands.

On February 4, 2009 at 4:40 AM PST, 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.”  – Wikipedia

I wrote this after seeing them on October 13th, 2004.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

It Thing Hard On

John, my cousin’s wife Nicole and I walked into the Trocadero around 7:45 pm. Our night was set. We were to see the Cramps. Nicole thought she could get us in for free because her old room mate works there. He wasn’t there but she found this other guy she knew that said he’d get al three of us in for twenty bucks. It’s better than Twenty-two dollars a piece. This dude was big and black and ugly. Not just his face but his entire manner. His name was Beast. Appropriate. Here’s the real price. Nicole had to actually talk to this massive monster. He looked at me with confusion and assumed I was looking out for her or protecting her. “Don’t worry man. I ain‘t trying to get with the girl. You look like you want to protect her.“ he said to me. “I’m not worried.” I said. “This is my husband’s cousing, Rich” Nicole said. He shook my hand in some weird handshake and half hugged me. “What’s up, cousin Rick?” he said. “It’s Rich. What’s up” I said “This is my body gurad, John.” I said jokingly, introducing John to Beast. “You need protecting?” he asked. This guy gave off the strangest vibrations and I was uncomfortable and he and Nicole wandered off and I was guessing he was trying to get her back stage. I was just glad I didn’t have to deal with him anymore.

Nicole eventually came back alone to join John and I and we got ready to feel the Cramps. The first opening band was finished. We missed them. Oh well. The Gore Gore Girls were up next. I remember hearing them before and thought they sucked but I was hoping maybe they were better live. No such luck. At least they were eye candy. Four hot chicks in short skirts and boots playing instruments. I spent most of the time in the bar upstairs so I could smoke. No smoking in the main area’s of the Trocadero. Can you believe it?

I’m not much of a reviewer or review writer or what ever it’s called. Here it goes. After all I am Rock n Roll Rich and I ought to write about Rock n Roll once in a while, right? I Love Rock n Roll. Always have. Always will. The Cramps were everything Rock n Roll is. Some say that Punk Rock is dead. They are right. With the exception of Peelander-Z the Greatest Japanese Punk Rock Samurai Noodle band in the World and Anti-Seen.

I also heard that Rock n Roll will never die and that’s the point. Some bands rock so fucking much that they seem to go on for years way past the rockin’ abilities of their fans. Look at AC DC and The Rolling Stones. I don’t care how old these guys get as long as they still pump out the raw energy like they do Rock will always be the greatest music around. Feel it. Live it. Breathe it.

Yeah, my nick name in High School was Rock Roll Rich because I always wore Classic Rock or Punk Rock t-shirts. I was in several bands and all I did was listen to music. Zeppelin, The Beatles, Elvis, Black Sabbath, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Jimi Hendricks, Alice Cooper, The Dead Kennedy’s. I didn’t give a crap about anything else except sex, drugs and Rock n Roll usually in the opposite order. My first Rock N Roll Show was The Rolling Stones at JFK stadium in Philadelphia. George Throrgood and Journey opened up. Even thought I was with my dad and I was about thirteen years old, I rocked out. It changed my life.

Since then I’ve seen The Who, The Clash, Santana, The Hooters, David Bowie, Rush, Yes, Frank Zappa, Ry Cooder, Bob Dylan, The Grateful Dead, Paul Mc Cartney, Robert Plant, Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, David Lee Roth, Billy Joel,((It’s still Rock n Roll To Me, ya know), Sex Pistols, Misfits, Lous Reed, Patty Smith, Guitar Wolf, Dan Bern Moxy Frouvous, The Ramones, Rob Zombie, Primus, Hot Tuna, The Beach Boys, Santana, Metallica, Macabre, Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Neil Young, Sonic Youth, Gwar, Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Richie Havens, The Buzzcocks, The Specials, Brian Setzer, Bauhaus, Love and Rockets, KMFDM (or was it DMFMK?), Face to Face, Iggy Pop, Reverend Horton Heat, Anti-Seen, The Meatmen, Rollins Band, Jane’s Addiction, Kiss, Skid Row, Bon Jovi, The Cure, Dick Dale, Los Straightjackets, Link Wray, The Scorpians, Alice Cooper, Satan’s Pilgrams, Sylvain Sylvain (of the New York Dolls), The Moldy Peaches, Daniel Johnston, The Violent Femmes, Jayne County (formerly Wane County), The Murder Junkies, Rockets From The Crypt, The Bomboras, Peelander-Z, The Cramps, Morrissey and a load of others that I’m just too burnt out to remember.

Of all of the band I’ve seenperform live, The Cramps are the most Rock n Roll. Lux Interior dressed in his tight black leather pants and shirt is the front man for this Psychobilly extravaganza leads the night into an orgy of psychotic Garage Rock with a Rockabilly backbeat. Poison Ivy on Guitar dressed in the sexiest see through lingerie top revealing her red panties as she wails like A hot sexy female Keith Richards or Angus Young in their prime. They’ve been rockin’ it out since the mid Seventies and still give it the same youthful energy covering old sixties garage rock, reggae, and even Ricky Nelson like no one you will ever see.

The Cramps are everything Rock n Roll should be. Rock n Roll. Lux screams and sings and yelps and moans into the microphone as the band consistently blows out each tune with passion and a punch that you don’t notice that they aren’t always polished. It doesn’t matter. You can count on them to Rock. This was the third time I’ve seen them and each time was a true down and dirty gritty Rock n Roll experience. I wish there were more bands like this.

Despite the audience filled with posers and trend setting hipsters who just got tuned into the Cramps because Hot Topic sells their T- shirts, overall it was a good night thanks to The Cramps. We headed out of the show after the encore where they didn’t do Surfin Bird like they usually do. We filed out onto the street towards the car to recover from this night of rockin’ out.

On the way out we once again ran into Beast. Great. Well I guess I should be grateful to him because he got us into the show pretty cheap and all. He wanted to talk to us again. He hit on Nicole again. “You guys got any drugs? Weed, coke? Anything to get me high?” he asked us. “No.” I said. “How about a couple of bucks so I can get some drugs?” he asked. I figured the guy got us in to the show so I could throw him a couple of bucks and get the hell away from him. I reached in my pocket and started to pull out a few dollars. “Fuck you man! I don’t want your fucking money. You think I’m just some Nigger on the street.: I ain’t like that.” he said to me. He looked real angry. I was getting uncomfortable. Before i could explain anything he grabbed the sides of my head and face with both giant black hands and pulled me close to him. I went limp in fear of what he was going to do. I was going to get my ass kicked, I thought. I was in complete shock. He kissed my head then pushed me away and said something I can’t remember because I was to distracted with my own fear and desire to get the fuck away from him. I walked away slowly and towards the car. John and Nicole followed. I just got kissed by a big black man and I didn’t care. Why? Because the Cramps were that much more memorable

It was my third Cramps show and unfortunately my last.

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