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That Bold Band Known As "The Cramps"

by Joshua B. Hoe I had a twitter conversation today relating to my recommendation of Kim Gordon's book "Girl In A Band."

The woman chatting with me - a cool musician who I had just met - responded with something pretty common to people (like me) who are fans of Kim Gordon and Sonic Youth:

And then she said something equally cool:

For those who don't know Poison Ivy is/was the guitarist for the seminal Post-Punk group The Cramps.

I am a huge fan of The Cramps.

This discussion inspired me so much, I figured I would write a quick post.

Music From Marginalized and Outsider Cultures

I have always loved the back to roots rockabilly aspect of Punk and I loved the whole mash-up of outsider sub-cultures that The Cramps represent/ed.

The Cramps were heavily invested in horror movie culture and imagery, in zombies way before they were cool, and in performing sexual identity politics way before that was a thing.

Think about it, the engine that made The Cramps go was the combination of a bad ass woman rockabilly lead guitarist and a cross-dressing lead singer (who were also married FYI).

They were originally from Sacramento, but migrated to NYC and were one of the acts that came out of CBGB's in the late 70's.

Eventually, they relocated to their native California.

One of their most notable early moments spoke to their embrace of outsider culture when they gave a free concert for Patients of the California State Mental Hospital.

If you consider Johnny Cash's concert at Folsom Prison to be punk, and I do, they were following his lead in embracing and including social outcasts.

Not many national touring bands were embracing cross-dressing, S&M, and mental illness at this time (Remember, this band started in 1976, not 2014) I suspect they felt rockabilly was at it's heart rebel music.

Influences

In interviews, The Cramps have mentioned that they were influenced by The Ramones (BTW if you don't know about The Ramones Live...watch this clip):

By Ricky Nelson:

By Screaming Jay Hawkins:

And I would assume by Wanda Jackson (although I never saw Posion Ivy discuss this):

Viva The Cramps!

Check out The Cramps - They left a deep discography of material and were a really important band IMHO.

Sadly, singer Lux Interior passed away at the age of 62 in 2009 (I mistakenly posted 2001 in the original post - apologies) from heart disease.

RIP Lux!

I don't have too much more to say, but this discussion made me feel like highlighting a great band

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LA Weekly's Punk Rock Fantasy

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Tribute To Two-Tone: RIP John Bradbury Playlist