FRIDAY, MAY 15, 2009
MY FIRST BAND : THE CRAMPS 1976 (Pt. 1)
"Erick Purkhiser, better known as Cramps leader Lux Interior, died on February 2. Long ago, and for one year, he was my friend. I was the drummer in the first Cramps lineup which played forty-odd dates over an eight month period from the first show on All Saints Night 1976 through July 13, 1977, the date of the NYC blackout. With his passing came a mess of calls asking about the early days. After years of avoiding a backward glance, I was suddenly dropped headlong into the well. A moldering box of old stuff materialized from way back of the closet, and old friends began sending in decades-old snapshots, clippings, bits of correspondence. That first year in New York was my coming of age, at least in calendar years. It was also my first year behind the traps, on the flipside of fandom. It provided a hazing that alternately galvanized and confused my head, so these few words and pictures will seem sad and funny at the same time. I hope this helps clear the cobwebs for those who care. Walking through my dreams, like the Pretty Things would say. RIP, Lux. "
"...That first run-in was at a small Sixth Avenue eatery called Chicken & Burger World, located right by Bigelow’s Pharmacy and a stone’s throw from Village Oldies and Discophile, where Helen and I had been trawling for records. A familiar looking tall guy with long hair and a velvet jacket had sidled over to our table to say that he’d seen us at a show at the Piccadilly Inn in Cleveland a few weeks earlier, and then he told us that he and his girlfriend Ivy (who waved from their table and then came over to say hi, a tiny lady with billowing sandy curls) in the middle of moving to New York to form a band, and that I should play drums with them. I was shocked. I told him I’d never played at all and that seemed to be a selling point. I’m guessing they had come from California to Ohio not long before that to see Lux’s family—he was originally from Stow, five miles from Kent, and I understood his family was in Akron. As he was talking, I realized that I had seen him at a Kinks show-- the Schoolboys tour- I remembered he had been wearing turquoise shoes. Subtle. We exchanged addresses and soon after I got back home to Ohio, there was a letter from Lux saying that they’d be stopping by when they came back to move their stuff to NYC. ..."
"... Bryan’s sister Pam had arrived in NYC a couple weeks earlier, and she had filled in a couple rehearsals in the record store basement, just for laughs. Regardless, another band photo had been snapped and another handbill hatched. There’s also a great early cameo flyer of just Bryan, gazing over his shoulder. So here I was now, not knowing what I was getting into, and not knowing which end up was up on a drumstick, in with this snap-happy trio with a name, and a selection of photos, and zero experience, or musical ability for that matter. Lux handed me a brand new pair of sticks and pronounced me the world’s greatest drummer. Let’s go. Just like that. No audition, no test run, no lessons, no suggestions of what to play or how fast..."
"...Around the same time, we were messing with the Troggs’ Night Of The Long Grass. That still is a personal fave. God bless Reg Presley and all he stands for, crop circles and all. Somebody get Reg on Coast To Coast AM, please! That spring, my Ohio pal Peter Laughner came to visit at the apartment above a hardware store on 12th Street and First Avenue that I was by then sharing with Buffalo’s best, Miss Lydia Lunch and nutty Cleveland import Bradley Field, who was fresh out of jail in Ohio. (The pair would go on to bang a gong as Teenage Jesus and the Jerks.) Peter arrived with Lester Bangs and Richard Lloyd in tow, and we hung around listening to records and a demo Richard had just cut, solo; finally taking a cab to pick up photog Stephanie Chernikowski. It was a perfect late spring day, the windows were down and the taxi was going fast. I remember it clearly, as it was the last time I would see Peter. He phoned right before his death in June. .."
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