Walter Lure, a co-founding member of ’70s punk rock pioneers the Heartbreakers, died on Aug. 22 at the age of 71, friends confirmed.
The New York-based guitarist appeared on the band’s only studio album, 1977’s L.A.M.F., alongside frontman Johnny Thunders, bassist Billy Rath and drummer Jerry Nolan. He left the following year, to return on a number of occasions until 1991. He later became a stockbroker but continued performing until earlier this year. A live version of L.A.M.F. featuring Lure alongside the Replacements’ Tommy Stinson, MC5’s Wayne Kramer and Blondie’s Clem Burke was released in 2017.
Soon after the New York City-based Heartbreakers played their first show in May 1975, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers arrived on the national scene. “We don’t even know if we’re even going to be called the Heartbreakers [anymore],” Thunders wryly noted in a 1976 interview. “There’s a new band.. they’re called Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. We might change our name to the Headbreakers and go visit them.” To avoid confusion, the punk band was frequently referred to as Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers.
“Walter Lure (April 22, 1949 – August 22, 2020) our dear, friend has passed away,” read a social media post from the Starwood Club in Hollywood. “Walter was diagnosed with liver and lung cancer in July 2020, which spread rapidly and he died from complications related to the cancer at the age of 71, peacefully in the hospital, surrounded by family. He was much loved by all and respected for all he contributed to the world of music. He will be dearly missed. To his family, friends and fans our deepest condolences. May he RIP.”
“I still play a lot of L.A.M.F. songs and I still think they go over well,” Lure said in a 2019 interview with Furios.com. “Maybe we had a bit too many love songs about drugs but that was what we were doing then, unfortunately. It was considered shocking at the time and we wanted that shock image.”
He recalled that the disappointing sound of the original album had contributed to the Heartbreakers’ demise, saying: “We remixed that thing 100 times in four or five different studios and remastered the final mixes several times… It was only when the masters were sent to the pressing plant to be put on vinyl did the sound come back as muffled and lifeless.” Noting that their record label would have canceled their contract if they hadn’t let the record be released, he added: “Later on in the ’80s, they remastered and released it again… Those versions sounded great and might have kept the band together longer if they came out like that in 1977. C’est la vie.”