First off: The Cramps had the perfect name - a throbbing, painful, sexual/hormonal sensation from deep within female loins? Kinda just makes you wanna lay back and absorb the genius like a suntan. For me, pre-internet, small town, had a sneaking suspicion that most things were full of shit or at the very least, not for me, those Cramps records were extremely important. Not only was the music near-perfect, they were a rosetta stone for all this long overlooked subterranean detritus of American culture. I walked into a store, grabbed a Cramps LP, and a couple days later I was on the lookout for Andre Williams, Roky Erickson, The Sonics, - even the Electric Eels. The Cramps opened doors and shined spotlights on all manner of wonderful and obscure things, the best mentor you could have asked for. My experience is by no means unique, and I'd wager that many people reading this went through the same thing, and, for some, discovering The Cramps was the defining moment when you laced up your sneakers, hitched up your pants, and gave the mainstream the finger.
Saw the Cramps walking through LAX in the mid-90's, on their way to catch a flight. Lux & Ivy weren't just going to throw on some trackpants and a sweater with knitted kitten on the front, they dressed to kill. It looked like a coven of medieval witches that stopped by a fetish shop was coming through the center of the airport walkway. This wasn't Iowa in the 20's, this was a major metropolis at the height of the Clinton era, but the Cramps still got stares, like Aliens landed in the middle of the terminal and were inquiring as to the whereabouts of your leader. It was amazing.
Billy Lee Riley played at a bowling alley. Parking lot was filled with big autos with pinstrips and flame decals, parked with the hoods up or the doors flipped open at odd angles. Lots of leopard skin, greased up hair & Bettie Page wanna-be's all hob-nobbing outside. Inside, Billy Lee Riley played to a 3/4 full room and there was Lux - a shutterbug of the highest order, he even had a 3D setup - up front, snapping shots left and right (he even climbed some kinda riser for a few), an excited and happy grin across his face. A wide-eyed happy fan, tickled to see his idol performing (the very same smile Lux put on countless faces).
First time I met Lux, I was a fucking mess, I had very few friends, was incredibly insecure, painfully shy, and spent the vast majority of my time alone. Met Lux at a BBQ, & talked to him and Ivy for a few minutes... Since I didn't believe in God then, and certainly don't now, they were at that moment, the closest thing I could compare in my life to actual Gods - I studied those records the same way others studied the Bible, I saw them play shows where I felt more inimitable power and spiritual fervor then I ever felt in a Church, and since my interest was shared by virtually none of my peers during my formative years, it was a private and sacred thing I took very seriously. I was shy talking to the librarian when I checked out a book, so you can just imagine how awkward and stutterey and near-unbearable I came off talking to my idols. But, Lux and Ivy thought nothing to sit and talk patiently to the irritating kid for a few minutes in the shade of a tree in the late afternoon sun. They were as kind, as approachable, and as funny as you could have hoped. I saw Lux a handfull of times after that, and he always said Hello, for no other reason then he just happened to be a very nice guy.
The same type of guy that would drive 3,000 miles to play a mental institution...
Goodbye Lux, you were one of the all-time best.
--Monty Buckles, 2.2009