On Saturday 22 August 2020, Walter Lure, best known as the rhythm guitarist and co-songwriter in JOHNNY THUNDERS AND THE HEARTBREAKERS, passed away. He was aged 71. The cause of death was due to complications arising from liver and lung cancer.
Lure was born Walter Charles Lurh Jr on 22 April 1949 in Floral Park, in the Queens borough of New York City, the son of Eillien Luhr (ne: Kealy) and Walter Lurh, a retail banker. He grew up in Queens Village while his teens were spent in Floral Park, Nassau County.
On graduating from Fordham University - where he majored in English and minored in Chemistry - he tested safety products for the Food And Drug Administration in Brooklyn.
In 1975, after playing in a number of cover bands, he joined THE HEARTBREAKERS. In his autobiography published earlier this year, To Hell And Back: My Life In Johnny Thunders’ Heartbreakers, he wrote of his meeting with the band at Richard Hell’s East Village apartment where his hair was cut off and Jerry Nolan cooked up a shot of Heroin: “Everything I would experience during that period, but especially throughout the life span of the Heartbreakers, would ultimately be refracted through the lens of my addiction.”
He had distinct opinions on how a Rock ‘n’ Roll band should sound, writing in the same autobiography: “It was as if everybody was so concerned about somehow sounding ‘unique’ that they forgot that, sometimes, the kids just wanna rock. That was the niche that the Heartbreakers slipped into, and that was why they’d excited me so.” That was directed to his NYC contemporaries TALKING HEADS and TELEVISION.
Within THE HEARTBREAKERS, he performed on and wrote several songs on what became one of the late-70s most iconic, influential and down-right enjoyable albums, ‘L.A.M.F’ - this included taking over lead vocal duties on such classics as ‘One Track Mind’ and ‘All By Myself’. The band played all of the NYC hotspots of the era, plus the infamous ‘Anarchy’ UK tour of 1977 with SEX PISTOLS. He left the band in 1978 but returned a number of times through to 1991.
Post-HEARTBREAKERS he scored a job as a stock broker on Wall Street running financial date for a computing company - a job he supposedly garnered via his father’s connections. This lead to a position at a brokerage firm overseeing a team of 125 and a long career in finance that lasted until he retired, in 2015.
In 1988, he managed to sober up and dry out after years of drug abuse. Throughout this time, he intermittently played several HEARTBREAKERS reunions, continued to work with JOHNNY THUNDERS on his solo work, augmented RAMONES on both ‘Subterranean Jungle’, ‘Too Tough To Die’, worked with the bands THE BLESSED, THE HURRICANES and THE HEROES plus his own band, WALTER LURE AND THE WALDOS which released its debut album in 1994 with ‘Rent Party’ and a final album in 2018 entitled ‘Wacka Lacka Loom Bop A Loom Bam Boo’.
The last surviving member of the iconic HEARTBREAKERS line-up, Lure passed away peacefully in hospital surrounded by family and friends.
Lure is survived by his son, Damian Da Costa, a brother William Luhr, twin granddaughters and his partner, Mr Andy Le.
I never got to see Walter Lure live. I am a massive Johnny Thunders fan and have watched a lot of videos, listened to a lot of records (official and bootlegged) and, without a doubt, Lure was the best accompaniment for the Thunders talent. He seemed to provide a bit of grounding, with his centre stage position. It’s also clear that his tracks on ‘L.A.M.F’ gave it that extra dynamic that pushes it into a different league. And let’s face it, if Johnny Ramone can allow him to cut guitar parts on three RAMONES albums, then the talent speaks for itself.