Lorde isn’t the only big-haired artist making her Rolling Stone cover debut on the new issue. That’s because the leering, high-coiffed, emaciated ghoul on her T-shirt belongs to another band: the Cramps.
The group, which used the T-shirt illustration on their cheekily titled 1984 comp Bad Music for Bad People, pioneered its own brand of sinewy, rockabilly-inspired garage punk that was perfect for the dinge of its native New York City when it formed in 1976 (or a little over two whole 17-year-old Lordes ago).
With a smarmy sense of humor and an arsenal of quivering, lascivious guitar lines, the Cramps laid groundwork later exploited by a wide array of artists, from noisy alt-rockers the Jesus and Mary Chain (who covered the Cramps’ “New Kind of Kick”) to metal steamrollers White Zombie (whose bassist joined the Cramps in 2006).
They dabbled in all of the same quirky horror kitsch as the Misfits, but where those punks oozed machismo, the Cramps exuded seedy, sexy camp. Frontman Lux Interior acted like a possessed madman onstage – gyrating, twirling, occasionally destroying drum heads (one of which is on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) – while his foil and wife, a statuesque, scantily clad, bouffant-coiffed redhead, who went by Poison Ivy Rorschach, wiggled as she coaxed rock-and-roll Armageddon from her guitar.