The Cramps were an American rock band formed in 1976 and active until 2006. The band split after the death of lead singer Lux Interior in 2009. Their line-up rotated frequently during their existence, with the husband-and-wife duo of Interior and lead guitarist and occasional bass guitarist Poison Ivy comprising the only ever-present members. The addition of guitarist Bryan Gregory and drummer Pam Balam resulted in the first complete lineup in April 1976.
They were part of the early CBGBpunk rock movement that had emerged in New York. The Cramps were one of the first punk bands, and also widely recognized as one of the prime innovators of psychobilly, a style fusing the basic musical elements of rockabilly with grotesque lyrical themes inspired by horror movies and other macabre topics.
Their music is mostly in rockabilly form, played at varying tempos, with a minimal drumkit. An integral part of the early Cramps sound was dual guitars, without a bassist. The focus of their songs’ lyrical content and their image was camp humor, sexual double-entendre, and retro horror/sci-fi b-movie iconography.
Their sound was heavily influenced by early rockabilly, such as Jerry Lott AKA The Phantom, whose 1958 single ‘Love Me’ they covered,rhythm and blues, and rock and roll like Link Wray and Hasil Adkins, 1960s surf music acts such as the Ventures and Dick Dale, 1960s garage rock artists like the Standells, the Trashmen, the Green Fuz and the Sonics, as well as the post-glam/early punk scene from which they emerged, as well as citing Ricky Nelson as being an influence during numerous interviews. They also were influenced to a degree by the Ramones and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, who were an influence for their style of theatrical horror-blues.
Despite being a Blues band by concept according to Ivy, the Cramps have influenced countless subsequent bands in the garage, punk and revival rockabilly styles, and helped create the psychobilly genre. “Psychobilly” was a term coined by the Cramps, although Lux Interior maintained that the term did not describe their own style.