The Cramps were a US garage punk rock band, formed in 1976 and active until 2009. The band split after the death of lead singer Lux Interior. Their line-up rotated much over their existence, with the husband and wife duo of Interior and lead guitarist and occasional bass guitarist Poison Ivy the only permanent members. The addition of band members guitarist Bryan Gregory and drummer Pam Ballam comprised 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 were they one of the first garage punk bands, they are also widely recognised as one of the prime innovators of psychobilly and gothabilly
Their music is mostly in rockabilly form, played at varying tempos, with a minimal drumkit. An integral part of the early Cramps sound is dual guitars, without a bassist. The focus of their songs’ lyrical content and their image is camp humor, and retro horror/sci-fi B-movie iconography.
Their sound was heavily influenced by early rockabilly, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll like Link Wray and Hasil Adkins, 1960s surf music acts such as The Ventures and Dick Dale, 1960s garage rock artists like The Standells, The Gants, The Trashmen, The Green Fuz and The Sonics as well as the post-glam/early punk scene from which they emerged. They were also were influenced to a degree by the Ramones and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, in terms of their style of theatrical horror-blues.
Lux Interior (born Erick Lee Purkhiser) and Poison Ivy (born Kristy Marlana Wallace) met in Sacramento, California in 1972. In light of their common artistic interests and shared devotion to record collecting, they decided to form The Cramps. Lux took his stage name from a car ad, and Ivy claimed to have received hers in a dream (she was first Poison Ivy Rorschach, taking her last name from that of the inventor of the Rorschach test). In 1973, they moved to Akron, Ohio, and then to New York in 1975, soon entering into CBGB’s early punk scene.
Many early Cramps songs, such as ‘Human Fly’, ‘I was a Teenage Werewolf’, ‘Zombie Dance’, ‘Goo Goo Muck’, ‘Rockin Bones’, I Ain’t Nuthin’ But a Gorehound’
and ‘Voodoo Idol’, focused on their obsessive love with horror iconography but later tracks like ‘The Creature from the Black Leather Lagoon’ and ‘Can Your Pussy Do the Dog?’ tended towards sexual innuendo. As befits a band in love with trashy rock ‘n’ roll, much of their repertoire was comprised of covers and barely concealed reinventions of primitive primordial rock sounds.
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