One of the greatest live rock and roll shows ever filmed. In 1978, the Cramps were on tour. On the way from New York to San Fransisco, they stopped off at Napa State Mental Hospital in Napa, California (one of he most hardcore mental hospitals in the state at the time) and somehow managed to get permission to play a show there before a few supporters and a hall full of mental patients!
Somehow, someone filmed the show, and it become a video that was released in 1984. What follows is pure punk rock chaos. A few minutes into the show, Lux says, “We flew all the way from New York just to play for you folks.” A female mental patient yells, “Fuck you!”
Patients get up on stage and pogo back and forth. Other patients grab the mike and start singing (actually screaming nonsense) or sing duets with Lux. Lux ends up on the floor with two women on either side of him. One grabs the mike and yells, “I’ve got the cramps!”
They were a new band at this point, and this was one of their early tours. Lux Interior is on vocals, Bryan Gregory and Poison Ivy are on guitar, and Nick Knox is on drums.
Lux died 3 years ago at age 62 of a blown out aortic valve (aortic dissection), possibly due to long term high blood pressure. His drug and alcohol habits are unknown, but one online source said he was an “old school heroin addict.” I could find no other corroborating sources for that.
Gregory died in 2001 at age 50 of a heart attack precipitated by multiple organ failure. He had been a heavy drug and alcohol user for many years. In particular, he was a long-time heroin addict. Gregory always scared me; he seemed like such a scary guy in the photos that were released of him. There were rumors that he was a Satanist.
Poison and Lux met in the Sacramento area in the early 1970’s when they were both in high school, and she was hitchhiking. He picked her up hitchhiking, and it was true love ever since. Both were heavy drug users at the time; in particular, both were hardcore LSD users. So this is the milieu in which the group was born.
Ivy and Knox are still alive.
The sound was variously referred as horror punk, punk rock or psychobilly. Whatever it was, it was a very unique sound.
I saw them at the Urgh! A Music Show! in 1980 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. A video was released of that film, and a number of people say that I am in that video in the crowd somewhere. I’ve seen some clips of the show, but I never saw myself in any of the clips. I may have to buy the DVD and check it out.
When I was into the scene in the early 1980’s, Lux and Ivy were living in part of Los Angeles called East Hollywood. It was very interesting part of town at the time, full of all sorts of ethnic minorities. One of my friends used to hang out over at their place quite often.
As for this show…
Rock and roll motherfuckers!