Respected guitarist and rock ‘n’ roll survivor Michael Purkhiser (The Action, The Walking Clampetts) has unveiled a collection of surftrack songs from his studio project 3-D that’s a tribute to his big brother Erick Lee Purkhiser AKA Lux Interior of legendary horror-punk band THE CRAMPS. “He was the one that introduced me to music,” Michael Purkhiser tells his hometown newspaper the Akron Beacon Journal in a recent interview.
Jim Testa of Off Shelf and influential fanzine Jersey Beat vowed, “if you’re an aficionado of surf rock, you’ll enjoy them.” “Purkhiser packed the EP with great riffs, groovy Farfisa organ fills, dramatic bass, and even his own ‘3-D Theme Song’ that mixes funky soul riffs with stinging psychedelic guitar solos.”
These instrumentals were inspired by British recordings used in the ‘60s as background music for movies and TV shows. Some of these British recordings featured Jimmy Page playing wacked-out guitar riffs prior to Led Zeppelin. This style of music married with the classic ‘60s surf sound is what 3-D calls surftrack music. “Lux and I were having a conversation one night about 3-D photography and his passion for shooting it,” recalls Michael Purkhiser. “A few nights later I was in the studio cutting tracks.”
The album was recorded at Big Adventure Sound in Akron, OH that housed a Warner Bros. Harrison console which was used by Van Halen and avant garde underground artist Tin Huey. 3-D’s studio lineup consisted of Michael Purkhiser (guitar), local legend Marky Ray on guitar (Jim Rose Circus, New Salem Witch Hunters, Death of Samantha), John Koury on drums (The Dead Beat Poets, Infidels), and Dave “Tate” Stephenson on bass, keys, and assisting with musical production.
From Michael’s musical beginnings in the early 1960s he’s had a colorful journey. It started back in 1964 when he was introduced to The Beatles by big brother Rick (Lux). He would wander upstairs to Rick’s bedroom to find what seemed like a thousand record albums scattered about everywhere. It was here he became educated in rock ‘n’ roll from its earliest beginnings in the 1950s to the then current British invasion of the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and The Who, among the multitude of British bands jamming the airwaves. It was at this time he developed a passion for guitar and knew he had to play.
By 1969 he was playing in local bands. Fast forward to 1977 when he put his first original band together called The Action, not to be confused with the British band of the same name. He started writing and recording music on a parallel course with his brother’s new band, The Cramps. Interestingly Michael recorded The Cramps Ohio Demos in 1978 in their parents basement. It was recorded on a stop in Akron, OH while The Cramps were making their way from New York City to California to play their legendary Live at Napa State Mental Hospital show.
Michael decided on taking a different path from them, playing in a power pop trio. He was hooked on that sound after seeing local favorites The James Gang (Joe Walsh) and Raspberries (Eric Carmen). The Action released three singles on their own Radiogram Records label, which are now sought after world wide by die-hard power pop fans. The group opened shows for The Cramps at CBGB as well as shows for Marshall Crenshaw, Todd Rundgren, Robert Gordon, Joan Jett, and close friends The Smithereens. The band received rave reviews, but could never land that elusive major label record contract.
The Action disbanded in 1984. In 1985 Michael joined up with local northeast Ohio favorites The Walking Clampetts. The Clampetts were a 4-piece lineup that combined rockabilly with roots rock and roll. They became one of northeast Ohio’s most noted dance bands. In 1990, The Clampetts had split and Michael made the decision to go solo. He continued to write and record original music that was pop based but not forgetting his rock and roll roots. He worked with producer Don Dixon (The Smithereens, R.E.M.) mixing a solo demo, but still without a record contract.
In 1997 he formed a studio project called 3-D, the name being inspired by Lux’s passion for 3-D photography. The 3-D project recorded around 30 songs, four of which were instrumentals. The original plan was to release the recordings as an album. While the album never came to fruition, at Michael’s request, Lux contributed original album artwork, which to this day has never been seen.
25 years later, the four instrumentals and Lux’s artwork are finally seeing the light of day. Michael most recently has been recording new music in his Los Angeles-based home studio. One of his many projects has been working with one of his idols Scott McCarl of Raspberries. Scott has a re-release of his album Play On being released on Liberation Hall, with two new songs that Michael engineered, co-produced, and played guitar on.
Other notable things in Michael’s story is that he is an electronics design engineer who has designed and built custom guitar amplifiers, tube mic preamps and studio grade vacuum tube compressors. He also has been a front of house engineer who toured with well known Beatles tributes 1964 The Tribute and the Broadway production Rain. He not only engineered for 1964 live and in the studio, but was also commissioned to build amps for them to help replicate the sound of The Beatles. He has worked with numerous Beatles tribute bands, being the go-to sound engineer to recreate that sound.