For some of us, he was the embodiment of cool. The way he crawled, the way he climbed the speaker cabinets like a panther, the way that Poison Ivy, his wife and collaborator in the Cramps, looked at him with equal parts love and indifference. Lux Interior, born Erick Lee Purkhiser in 1948, was an icon, and his influence on American culture will only rise with his passing.

In 2004, LA Weekly's Jonny Whiteside wrote a great profile of his friends Poison and Lux, and captured the band's essence:

That exhilarating manifestation of deviant intent and skull-denting impact remains Lux and Ivy's exclusive domain. Where punk rock was a barrage of refutation that fomented rabid exultation, the Cramps reclaimed the hillbilly power long since flushed down the Mersey. Through a self-stated “disdain for the myth of musical progress,” they melded their mutant propensities to emerge as a guiding voice in the wilderness, a commanding force that redefined the rock n roll spectrum while outgunning almost everyfuckingbody in the game.

The Cramps' New York publicist, Girlie Action, released the following statement:

For Immediate Release:

February 4, 2009

Lux Interior, lead singer of The Cramps, passed away this morning due to an existing heart condition at Glendale Memorial Hospital in Glendale, California at 4:30 AM PST today. Lux has been an inspiration and influence to millions of artists and fans around the world. He and wife Poison Ivy's contributions with The Cramps have had an immeasurable impact on modern music.

The Cramps emerged from the original New York punk scene of CBGB and Max's Kansas City, with a singular sound and iconography. Their distinct take on rockabilly and surf along with their midnight movie imagery reminded us all just how exciting, dangerous, vital and sexy rock and roll should be and has spawned entire subcultures. Lux was a fearless frontman who transformed every stage he stepped on into a place of passion, abandon, and true freedom. He is a rare icon who will be missed dearly.

(via The Daily Swarm)

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