Remembering Walter Lure (April 22, 1949 – August 21, 2020)

Today I want to reflect on the passing of Walter Lure, erstwhile guitar slinger for The Heartbreakers and also main man of his own outfit, The Waldos.

Lure came to prominence in the mid-70s in the burgeoning NYC punk scene as a hot shot guitar player for glam up and comers The Demons, before graduating to The Heartbreakers in mid-1975 alongside Richard Hell, Johnny Thunders, Jerry Nolan and Billy Rath. As history showed, Hell didn’t last the journey, and Thunders, Nolan, Lure and Rath became the classic Heartbreakers line-up – THE line-up that went to the UK in late ‘76 and caused all and sundry to sit up and take notice due to their uncompromising stance and punishing songs.

As former New York Dolls, Thunders and Nolan garnered the attention – yet much of the driving force behind the Heartbreakers was due to Lure. With his killer guitar chops, song writing ability, penchant for melodic hooks and not to mention vocal proficiency – Lure was in many ways the complete rock n roll package – adding much to the Heartbreakers armoury and more than just a foil for Thunders’ guitar antics and histrionics.

His musical prowess provided the steady hand that allowed Thunders space to free wheel. His on again – off again tenure with Thunders was rejuvenated again in 1984 as part of the LAMF Revisited UK tour and album re-issue on Jungle Records. Far from a one trick pony, by the mid-80s Lure’s business nous saw him well and truly entrenched as a stock broker on Wall Street. He always kept a foot in rock ‘n’ roll though – and as front and centre of his own band The Waldos, continued to create searing rock n roll with memorable riffs and enduring melodies.

This was none more evident than on 1994’s ‘Rent Party’ album. My God, is this a massive album – and is in many ways potential realised. Producer Andy Shernoff has often said that with ‘Rent Party’ he was trying to make the second Heartbreakers album. This is a monster record and as I wrote when I reviewed this record back in 1995, “It’s fair to say that Walter Lure often played second fiddle to Johnny Thunders, yet ‘Rent Party’ finally confirmed that Lure was indeed his own man, who could indeed create memorable rock n roll on par with anything penned from the classic 70’s NY rock era. If this sucker ain’t in your collection next to your Stones and Chuck Berry records then it damn well should be.”

Shernoff also produced Lure’s 2018 Waldos album, ‘Wacka Lacka Loom Bop A Loom Bam Boo’, another stupendous punk n roll LP stamped with the old NYC flavours, evoking memories of Max’s Kansas City and The Continental. Shernoff did a great job – for the second time – in capturing the Lure sound with all its marked lineage and rock pedigree. Few others understand the importance of that as Shernoff. If you have not heard that record – you should.

There are other Lure recordings worth your while. Purists will already be familiar with his work with The Heroes and The Blessed – yet the ‘Live In NYC’ album Lure recorded with the late Rick Blaze that came out in 1994 on Dionysus Records is also recommended. Blaze was more than a Lure devotee, and his unquestionable devotion to Lure inspired rock ‘n’ roll that manifested in his own band The Ballbusters should always be acknowledged.

It was through the connection with Blaze that Walter Lure was good enough to contribute a song to a compilation album released on my old label Vicious Kitten Records (Rock ‘n’ Roll War Volume 2) in 2001. Another album worth searching is The Last Ditches album from 2016 called ‘Spilt Milk’. This time Lure collaborated with NYC rock stalwart Binky Philips and its chock full of killer tunes and old school NYC style punk n roll. Tunes like ‘Excuse Me’ and the bitchin’ ‘N-O Spells No’ are excellent starting points.

Fortuitously, Lure released his own book earlier this year titled ‘To Hell and Back: My Life in Johnny Thunders’ Heartbreakers, in the Words of the Last Man Standing’. Sadly, Lure is standing no more. His brother Richie (from The Erasers) passed way in 1997. Charlie Sox and Tony Coiro have also gone. Thankfully, Lure’s guitar partner in The Waldos Joey Pinter is still with us after experiencing his own health issues in recent times. Pinter goes back to the early 70’s NYC era with his band The Knots and he himself released a killer solo album in 2015 that is worth searching out. That’s enough narrative.

Go play ‘Sorry’ by the Waldos. Loud. If I close my eyes for a moment and go back in time, I can see myself driving my 76 Charger, the Waldos blaring from the speakers. These Golden Days – It mattered then – it matters still. It always will. Rock on Waldo.

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