"Whence Elvis sprang it all." So reads the Gospel according to the Lux
Interior and wife Poison Ivy, singer and guitarist, respectively, for
veteran rockabilly punks the Cramps.
Had Elvis Aron Presley not passed on (or simply gone into hiding,
depending on your view) on August 16, 1977, he would have been 62 years old
this year. Interior and Ivy marked the 20th anniversary of the King's
death by ruminating on their debt to him.
"Elvis was the guy that really started rock 'n' roll," Interior said by
phone from the couple's Southern California home. "Before that it was
black music, people called it rhythm and blues. It was really kind of a
cult thing. He was the one who made it this huge thing that later would
become Led Zeppelin, MTV and everything else that it is today."
Said Ivy more succinctly: "It like he's in our blood."
Although Interior doesn't recall whether he first saw Elvis on Ed
Sullivan's or Steve Allen's TV variety show, he does remember thinking
vaguely the event marked the start of something new. "My older brother
rode a motorcycle, and he was into all that stuff," Interior said. "Him
and all his friends were over to watch, and I remember everybody was just
going wild. They were all screaming and yelling, 'Oh my God! Oh my God!
It's gonna happen!' They were all excited, and I didn't know what all the
hubbub was about. But I saw it in the right atmosphere, with the proper
What Interior did manage to grasp was that Elvis embodied that elusive,
indefinable quality of cool. Then when he was a bit older, he grasped
Presley's sexual appeal.
Nowadays both Interior and Ivy are devoted Elvis-o-philes. In 1986, the
Cramps released an album titled, wishfully, A Date With Elvis. Over
the span of their 22 year career the band has covered the King both on
record ("Jailhouse Rock," "Fever") and in concert ("Do the Clam" among
countless others). In addition, Ivy and Interior have collected original
pressings of nearly every single released by Elvis' original label,
Sun Records, including 78 rpm discs of Elvis' "That's All Right" and
Ivy said that it's impossible to gauge the King's impact on the Cramps.
"Just hearing Elvis and loving Elvis, he's got to influence us in every
way, in everything we do. Even other things we're influenced by--other
rockabilly or whatever--they're influenced by Elvis, too."
"There's hardly a song that I sing in the Cramps that wasn't influenced by
Elvis in some way or the other," added Interior.
According to the singer, it was not simply Elvis' musical hybrid that
started the rock 'n' roll revolution. "You always hear that he took gospel
music and country and put them all together," Interior said. "That's
something that came out of him. But the big element was just
him. It all came from his wild personality."