3 Great Punk Rock and New Wave Couples from Blondie, the Cramps, and Talking Heads
Rock couples are intriguing. Big talent and even bigger personalities can be disastrous when they get together romantically. We usually hear about the stories that end badly (think Sid and Nancy). These three couples, however, either stayed together or remained lifelong friends. Whether or not they're still in love, these punk rock and New Wave couples are always fascinating.
Debbie Harry and Chris Stein (Blondie): The couple that plays together doesn't necessarily stay together, but Debbie and Chris Stein of Blondie had a good run. The frontperson and guitarist, respectively, became a couple while in the seminal New Wave / pop band Blondie. Blondie were early players in the New York punk rock and New Wave scenes, which came together at Hilly Krystal's now-legendary but defunct club CBGB & OMFUG. Blondie had a string of hits, some of which were featured on major movie soundtracks. Later, Debbie took care of Chris while he suffered from an autoimmune disease. Debbie and Chris's romantic relationship didn't stand the test of time. The New Wave duo remain friends, however, and Chris has remarried. This seminal New Wave band still tours.
Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz (Talking Heads): In a 2010 interview with Spinner.com's Wendy Gould, Chris reminisces about meeting Tina in a Rhode Island School of Design art class. Chris says, "I saw Tina there and couldn't get her out of my mind." Love at first sight doesn't work for everyone, but it did for this New Wave couple.
The two played together in the avant garde New Wave band Talking Heads, with Chris on drums and Tina on bass. They went through the founding and disbanding of the Talking Heads and a David Byrne-free reunion as the Heads. After leaving the famous New Wave band in 1981, the two put out their first record as the Tom Tom Club, a highly influential dance band that experimented with rap. In fact, the words they used to describe their music were "fresh" and "freestyle," terms that endured in the world of hip-hop.
The couple endured as well, beginning with their art school days and their subsequent move to New York, when Chris talked Tina into taking up bass because no one at the neighborhood punk rock hole CBGB's wanted any part of the Artistics, his band with David Byrne. After playing alongside the Ramones, Blondie, and countless other future punk rock and New Wave legends at CBGB's for a few years, Chris and Tina wed in 1977. The couple is still married after decades on stage together, and living in Connecticut.
Lux Interior and Poison Ivy (the Cramps): Lux Interior and Poison Ivy, nee Erick Purkhiser and Kristy Wallace, were the glue that held the great psychobilly / garage punk band the Cramps together. Frontman Lux met guitarist Ivy, sometimes known as Ivy Rorschach, when he and a friend picked her up hitchhiking her way home from classes at Sacramento State College.
It was lust at first sight for Lux, and Ivy had been intrigued by oddball Lux's eccentric fashion choices. The two ended up taking a class called "Art and Shamanism" together, and love bloomed. Ivy talked a reluctant Lux into forming a band, resulting in a move to New York.
The Cramps' unique blend of rockabilly, garage, punk rock, and touches of psychedelia earned them a hardcore following, which may have included patients at the Napa State Mental Hospital in California after their legendary 1978 performance there. Although they never became household names, the Cramps enjoyed underground popularity throughout the coming decades. Lux and Ivy remained together and in love until Lux's untimely death from aortic dissection on February 4th, 2009. In addition to being psychobilly / punk rock legends, Lux and Ivy were vegetarians and animal lovers. In lieu of flowers, Ivy requested via the official band site that fans donate to Lux's favorite charity, Best Friends Animal Society.
These punk rock, New Wave, and post-punk couples are great examples of musicians who respected each other on a deeper level than the tabloid-style stories we usually hear about. Blondie, Talking Heads, and the Cramps produced lasting love and friendships in addition to the punk rock and New Wave music that sounds as fresh and exciting today as it did in the punk rock heyday of CBGB. Maybe there was something in the water...
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