Lux Interior, co-founder and lead singer of the pioneering horror-punk band the Cramps, has died, the group's publicist said. He was 60.
Interior, whose real name was Erick Lee Purkhiser, died Wednesday of a pre-existing heart condition at a hospital in Glendale, California, publicist Aleix Martinez said in a statement.
Interior and wife Kristy Wallace -- who took the stage name Poison Ivy -- met in Sacramento, California, in 1972 and moved to New York where they started the Cramps. With Interior on lead vocals and Ivy on guitar, the group was a part of the late 70s early punk scene centered at such Manhattan clubs as CBGB along with acts like the Ramones and Patti Smith.
Their unmistakable sound was a lo-fi synthesis of rockabilly and surf guitar with a deviant dose of midnight-movie camp, embodied in such horror-themed songs as "I Was a Teenage Werewolf" and "Bikini Girls with Machine Guns." Some called it "psychobilly."
The pale, tall, gaunt Interior appeared shirtless with black hair and low-slung black pants, part zombie, part Elvis Presley as he crawled and howled his way across the stage.
The band made a notorious appearance at a California mental institution, Napa State Hospital, in 1978. The performance, which can be seen on YouTube, was a punk-era echo of the Folsom Prison concert of Johnny Cash, one of the band's influences.
Interior was widely rumored in 1987 to have died from a heroin overdose, and his wife received flowers and funeral wreaths.
"At first I thought it was kind of funny," he told the Los Angeles Times at the time. "But then it started to give me a creepy feeling."
The Cramps' lineup changed often through the decades but Interior and Ivy remained the center. Their bluesy, trebly sound -- the group did not have a bass guitarist -- resonates in modern minimalist groups like the White Stripes and the Black Lips.
The band's last release was the 2004 rarities collection "How to Make a Monster." They were still touring as recently as last November.