Tuesday, October 27, 2009

WALTER LURE On the Gross State of the Art, Part I

WALTER LURE On the Gross State of the Art, Part I

Text by Nancy “Suzy Q” Foster
© FFanzeen Magazine, 1981
Images © Robert Barry Francos

Part II directly follows below this part.

The following article originally appeared in
FFanzeen Number 7, which was issued in 1981.

The Heroes are, in my humble opinion, the best hardcore rock'n’roll band since the Heartbreakers. They are not merely a “lightweight Heartbreakers” as some Johnny Thunders disciples insist. The Heroes are ex-Heartbreakers bassist Billy Rath, Walter’s little brother Richie Lurie on rhythm guitar (and sometimes lead vocals), and drummer Billy Rogers. And, of course, Walter.

Walter Lure is a guitar god and thrift shop dandy who spouts epigrams that would make Oscar Wilde roll over in his opium den. Plus, Walter writes great ‘80s rock'n’roll songs with that unbeatable Waldo Swing. Walter may sing about “Chinese Rocks,” but he has definitely kissed the Blarney Stone.

The following interview with Walter took place in the backroom of Max’s Kansas City, December 10, 1980. Theatre of the absurd, act one:

Walter Lure: I planned to get here on time, but I was attacked by rats in the street – these gross rats. I was walking down the street to my house and I saw this thing walking across my feet. I figured, “Oh, just one went by,” and then they kept on coming. They saw this giant human standing there and they wouldn’t leave me alone. They kept running in front of my feet and I’m screaming, “Oh, no! Assassination!”
FFanzeen: The first thing I wanted to ask you was your birth date.
Walter: April 22.
FF: Are you going to give the year?
Walter: Pick a year. Anything between 1950 and 1960.
FF: Were you friends with Johnny Thunders before you joined the Heartbreakers?
Walter: Yeah. I’ve known John for ages, but not personally. In the ‘60s, every concert I ever went to, John was always there. He was always dressed up in English clothes before anyone had English clothes. He happened to have a rich girlfriend at the time. That’s why he had all these great clothes. He always stood out in the crowd. He was the first one in town to have a Keith Richards hair cut and high heel platform boots. This was all before the (New York) Dolls. He was just a kid who was hanging out.
FF: Was this in the late ‘60s?
Walter: Late ‘60s. The Fillmore days – ’67, ’68, ’69, and ’70. Every fucking show I went to John was there and I knew who it was. I went to mostly English groups anyway. I’m sure if I went to see a Grateful Dead concert, eh wouldn’t be there. Even at Woodstock, I saw him. At the Atlantic City Pop Festival I saw him. At the Newport Rock Festival I saw him. At Led Zeppelin in Flushing Meadow Park and Iggy Pop. He was at every fucking show and we started to recognize each other and say hello. But I never really knew him. I got to know the Dolls through the lead singer of a group I was in, the Demons.
FF: Who was the lead singer of the Demons?
Walter: This guy named Elliott Kidd. He’s still around, but he’s not in a band. They actually made an album after I left them. It was on Mercury, but the album never really got pushed. It never went anywhere. Elliott was a good friend of the Dolls and used to hang out with them a lot. We used to share their loft to rehearse in. I didn’t really like the Demons that much. I was just in them because that was my original band. I just wanted to get my face on the scene. I had been hanging out so long that I figured it was about time to make the big break. I was in the Demons and we played two or three gigs. One gig, we opened for the Heartbreakers. It was just Richard Hell, Jerry [Nolan], and John. It was their first gig, at this little shithole out in Queens called Coventry, just over the 59th Street Bridge. It was real gross and terrible. They were all on downs or some other weird drug and they were all playing, like, [mocking a stoned-out slur], “Uh, I’m living on uh dead rock.” They had auditioned me before that gig and had been asking me all along if I wanted to join the group. They had been trying other guitar players, too. The Demon’s first gig was around April of 1975. The Dolls had just broken up. Jerry and John hadn’t gotten a group together yet. They had already spoken to Richard Hell because he had left Television around the same time as the Dolls broke up. So, the Heartbreakers came down to see the Demons because they knew the singer real well. John comes back and says, “Walter, you’re real good, blah blah blah.” I got a call a couple of days later, “Hey, you want to come down and audition? You want to join the band?”
FF: What was your reaction when Johnny first asked you to join?
Walter: It was cool. I said, “My God! This is my big break!” At the same time, he asked me if I wanted to audition, so I wasn’t sure that I was going to make it. I knew they liked me, but Richard Hell wasn’t all that hot on me. He thought I was too normal, didn’t take enough drugs, and my hair was too long. I had a couple of auditions. They auditioned other people, but they didn’t find the right guy. John liked me and the decision was really John’s. We used to be in clubs and I’d be with the Demons and John would come over: “You want to join the band? Shh! Here comes Elliott. Don’t tell him.”
FF: He was afraid that Elliott would get mad for stealing you away?
Walter: Yeah, right. And that’s what they did in the end.
FF: Were you in any other bands before the Heartbreakers, other than the Demons?
Walter: I was in a couple of bands. They were mostly copy bands. My first band was Blood Bath. That turned into the Fabulous Blood Bath Revue. We played Stones, Bowie, Chuck Berry, Mott the Hoople, and all our English Rock favorites. We used to play the college circuit around Fordham, Manhattan College, and the Bronx. I was in this band called the – uh – I don’t remember what they were called – The Beanheads or something like that. The Sea Creatures or whatnot.
FF: Where were you born?
Walter: I was born in Queens.
FF: How long have you lived in Manhattan?
Walter: Two years. Before that I lied in Brooklyn Heights for six years. It’s just over the Brooklyn Bridge. You can look out the window across the river to Manhattan. Charming view. They filmed The Sentinel right on my block, you know, the gross pig movie with all the zombie people and devils running around. It was hilarious. Back when I used to work, I’d come home and see these fucking misshapen hunchbacks and dwarves all walking down my block. I’d say, “My God, the neighborhood’s going down.”
FF: Was the Heartbreakers’s following bigger or more intense in London than in New York City?
Walter: Once we got going it was. In New York City, we had a big following because Johnny and Jerry were from the Dolls and Hell was from Television. The first gig I played with them was at the CBGBs’ First Annual Summer Rock Festival. It was around the fourth of July in 1975. There was this big fucking mob there because the Dolls were so big. I never get nervous before gigs, but this was the first time I felt a few butterflies flying around. I said, “Um, I never saw a crowd this big before. This is going to be weird!” As soon as we went onstage, the people wet, “Waaaahhhh!” I was knocked against the wall, saying, “My God, what’s going on here?” It was a great sensation. The New York following was sort of limited to the New York clubs. The gigs were always crowded. But it was in England that we started getting popular all over Europe. People latched on to us because they liked the music and they thought we were punks because we had been on the Anarchy Tour. We didn’t know what the fucking punks were. There was a punk scene, but we were really a rock’n’roll band, as opposed to a punk band. Any band that played with the Pistol and the Clash on the same tour had to be cool if they were from New York. So they picked up on us. That was when I started coming out more. Hell had left the band six months earlier and we had just played about five or six gigs without him. I was doing more singing because with Hell in the band, I could only sing one song. He would begrudge me even that much.
FF: Which song was that?
Walter: “Flight.” He wanted to do all the singing. He didn’t even want Johnny to sing more than three songs.
FF: The group was more downbeat with Hell in it, right?
Walter: It was rock’n’roll. We even did Hell songs rock’n’roll. I have a tape of the old group. We’re doing “Blank Generation,” “You’ve Gotta Lose,” and “One Track Mind,” which used to be called “Love Comes in Spurts” because I’d written the music and Hell decided to write the words, which was an old Television song. When he left, I re-wrote the words myself. It was still rock’n’roll, but his bass playing was limited. His songs were good, but it was more of a funky junkie band. When Hell left, it became more straightforward rock’n’roll, rather than having an aura of beatnik about it.
FF: Are the Heartbreakers popular in Paris? A friend of mine from London said that you can get all kinds of Heartbreakers memorabilia in Paris – shirts, buttons, etc.
Walter: Yeah, we’re real popular in Paris. We only played there once in December of 1977, at Le Bafaclan, which holds about 1200 people. It’s like a ballroom, and it was sold out completely. People were screaming. I can speak French so I babbled a few words into the microphone and they all went “Yeah!” They loved it, to see someone who could speak French. John got real jealous and started saying, “I taught him everything he knows.” It was real fun. The French loved the Dolls. When the Dolls played Paris, they had riots with people trying to get into the shows – almost like the Beatles. They came to see us because of the Dolls, and also because the Heartbreakers had gotten a big following in England. The French magazines would always come over to write about us. One time, they wrote this gross thing about one of the people that we knew – in the group – who OD’d by mistake. Of course, it’s always by mistake. One of the guys from the magazine was there. The next month, I’m reading this magazine and it’s all there because the guy was in the apartment. He writes all this shit down in this big magazine which is about as big as Creem is in America. It’s an article about the Heartbreakers – how great they were at the show. At the end, there’s “…And, of course, blah blah blah OD’d and they carried him into the bathtub and the ambulance was coming and the syringe is flying out the window.” I’m saying, “What kind of shit is this?”
FF: They thrive on that. They love decadent Americans.
Walter: Heroin is a lot more fashionable in Paris. Here, cocaine is the drug of the chic, the jet set, and stuff.
FF: That’s starting to shift now.
Walter: It is. People are getting too burnt out. In France, it’s just the opposite. Yves St. Laurent is a junkie [figures he’d name a perfume “Opium” – nf], so it’s popular. It’s not like I approve or anything. That’s just the state of the art.
FF: Did you play any European cities other than Paris?
Walter: We played Holland – once in Amsterdam with the Pistols, and twice on our own at the Paradiso. We played in Groningen, Arnhem, and Rotterdam. We were supposed to do an Italian tour, but that fell through at the last minute. We were supposed to go to Germany and Scandinavia, but it never happened. We were supposed to do a French tour and we just did Paris. That was a disaster. They didn’t pay us enough money and we got stuck there. We barely made it out of the country. Every time we came back to London, they would always hassle us in customs because we never had working papers. They kept us in this jail for six hours because they didn’t believe that we had any money. We had to call all these people in London to say that we were a group that was in town for a while to try and get some deals. Every time we came back to London, even for a day, they’d give us a hassle. We’d have to make up all these stories. Everywhere else in Europe, you can walk in the country nude if you want to.
FF: What was your impression of Malcolm McLaren?
Walter: I knew him when he was managing the Dolls. I met him a few times. I did him some favors or something like that. He was a great guy. He reminded me of the original Stones’ manager, Andrew Loog Oldham. Malcolm was very politically oriented and forever trying to shock people. He’s into a lot of crazy publicity schemes. He’s incredible at making controversy. He made the Pistols. He worked with them for a year and got their clothes, put them together, stuck them out on the road, and made them tour. They sort of carried it themselves once they got popular, but it was Malcolm who held it all together. He’s great at publicity and manipulation of media. He’s real intelligent and he has a lot of good ideas, but he gets a bit flakey at times, even with the Dolls. He made a big mistake by trying to change them with that whole Red Communist thing. It was a bit silly. It didn’t make sense at the time. With the Pistols, it made sense. Even with that, he got carried away after a while. He started spacing out. He’d be your friend one day and the next he wouldn’t. He got real mad at our manager for some dumb little reason.
FF: Who was your manager?
Walter: Leee Childers. He was our manager from the time we arrived in Europe. He sort of signed on when Hell left the band and decided to take us over. He used to be a big photographer.
FF: Bowie; MainMan –
Walter: He was a Brian Epstein-type character. We found out in the end that he was a terrible business manager. He was a great personal manager. He could take care of the band, take care of people, make sure everyone’s happy. As far as business, he didn’t know his ass from his elbow. He was terrible. We didn’t realize that at the time. He was good in that he helped us in a lot of ways. I have nothing against him, even though I could, if I wanted to take some things into account. You can’t blame people. Things happen and you have no control over it. He could have done better, but so could anybody.
FF: Who wrote most of the music and who wrote most of the lyrics in the songs that you co-wrote with Jerry Nolan?
Walter: Most of those songs are all mine. Jerry and I decided at one time that we were going to be a songwriting team like Lennon/McCartney. A couple of the songs that he wrote, like, “Can’t Keep My Eyes On You” and “Take a Chance,” he had written the music and most of the lyrics. But Jerry’s the type of guy who will start something and he can’t finish it. On “Take a Chance,” I ended up writing the lyrics.
FF: That’s one of my favorite ones.
Walter: We haven’t done that in a while. Yeah, that’s a good song. “Can’t Keep My Eyes on You” was written even before I was in the band. But Hell used to sing it and Hell had written lyrics. Jerry wrote one verse and Hell wrote the other two verses. When Hell left, I just re-wrote the other two verses and sang Jerry’s first verse. “Take a Chance” was mostly Jerry’s music. He had written the chorus and one of the verses.
FF: So “Get Off the Phone” was yours.
Walter: “Get Off the Phone was all mine.
FF: And “All By Myself”?
Walter: No, that song was actually a collaboration. Jerry was playing a drum beat in rehearsal. It was just him and me, waiting for the other guys to show up. I started playing these chords and it sounded cool. Jerry started singing, “All by myself” and we actually arranged the whole song. I wrote the chords and he had the title, the first line of the first verse, and started making up words. I just took it home and wrote the rest of the words to the verses and he had the chorus. So, that was our half-and-half collaboration. “Junkie Business” was mine, but it was after Hell left the group that I wrote that.
FF: Do you ever collaborate with your brother Richie?
Walter: We haven’t done anything yet. We’re supposed to get together and try to do something. There’s one song that he was singing, “When
Passion Was in Fashion,” but we haven’t worked on that for a while. I was going to let him sing it and write the words, but he’s lazy. He hasn’t gotten it together yet. I’m not that happy with the song, so we might not do it. You’ve heard Riche’s new song, “Pissing My Life Away”?
FF: Yeah
Walter: I have a ballad. I actually wrote a slow song. The words aren’t quite completed. It’s called “Golden Days.”
FF: But you’re good at ad libbing
Walter: [Laughs] Yeah, right. I ad-lib almost all my songs. Yeah, we might do the slow song on Friday, hopefully. We’re rehearsing tomorrow night. We’ll try to polish it and get it together. Then I’ll try to make some sense of the words.
FF: Why did the Heartbreakers break up, originally? One rumor was that everyone was mad at Jerry because he snuck back to England and mixed the L.A.M.F. tapes behind the group’s back, and Johnny said in the New York Rocker that it was because you had a big head.
Walter: [Laughs] John and I have this ongoing battle in newspapers. He actually started it by saying something shitty about Billy and me in Creem. He said something like we were all fucked up and couldn’t get anything done. And this is John saying we’re fucked up! I read that and I did an interview after that. That was when the Trouser Press came out where I said all this stuff about him. It was just the truth, actually. Even when I showed it to him, he said, “Oh, yeah, it’s true, you prick.” [Laughs] He actually liked it, but then he felt he had to say something back in the New York Rocker. He said all that shit about how the Heartbreakers was the first time I ever got any recognition and it all went to my head, and I thought I was a star. No one thinks he’s a bigger fucking star than Johnny. He’s the most star-conscious scumbag. He throws his tantrums and he thinks everybody’s got to wait on him hand and foot. Jerry was the same way, but John would never say anything against Jerry because he was scared of him. Jerry would threaten to beat the shit out of John. John respects anyone who can beat the shit out of him.
FF: That’s a direct quote from your comments about Johnny in Bruce Paley’s article [FFanzeen, Vol. 2, No. 2, “The Survival of Johnny Thunders – ed.].
Walter: Jerry used to do it in the Dolls. The Dolls would get together every now and then and when John would start getting out of hand and obnoxious, they’d call Jerry and say, “Jerry, why don’t you take care of Johnny? He’s starting to get out of hand.” So, he’d take him into a room and give him a few whacks. Then he’d be an angel for two or three months and slowly start fucking up again. Then it’d all happen again. Jerry only did it a few times, I guess. John always looked up to Jerry as a father figure, but Jerry is even more fucked-up than John is. Jerry freaks out totally if he doesn’t get his way. He’ll say, “White’s black! White’s black!” Ten minutes later you’ll say, “Jerry, you said ‘white’s black,’” and he’ll say, “Fuck you, I did not. You’re crazy. Black is black.” You can’t talk to him. He’s like a brick wall. Yet, he’s probably the best drummer I’ve ever played with. He’s a natural. That’s the shame of it, because it’s such a waste. He’s such a great drummer, but he’s so fucked up. If you could just chop his head off and keep his arms and legs, he’d be great.
FF: Did you ever play with the Stilettos?
Walter: I did a gig or two with them because they were friends. They were getting a record deal thing together and they asked Cheetah (Chrome), Billy and me to do a show or two with them. I played once with them at Max’s as a guest on a few songs. We actually did a show with them at this place in Westchester called Detroit. They booed us off the stage. [Laughs]
FF: Who else have you played with, other than the Blessed and the Heroes, since the Heartbreakers broke up?
Walter: I had a band called the Hurricanes for a while. We actually did two gigs. It was a year ago, April. We played the Mudd Club and Max’s. It was the same idea as the Heroes. The Heartbreakers had broken up and Billy and me had gotten back from England. We were trying to get a band together because John was saying, “Fuck you, guys. I don’t want to play with you,” although he’d still show up every other month to do the rent party gigs at Max’s. So, we had to put a band together. I had been auditioning guitar players. We found Barry Ryan who’s with the Rockats now. It was Barry, Billy, Ty Styx, and me. Barry didn’t write songs that much back then. He’s a really good guitar player, but he didn’t write and he was afraid to sing. I really liked playing with him, but I never sang whole sets before. My voice would be going after the first five songs. It was driving me nuts. So, it wasn’t working. Barry sang one song, but he didn’t have much original stuff. At the same time, the Heartbreakers’ album was coming out and John and Jerry talked about getting back together. The group was actually going to stay together when the album came out. Everyone was happy again. So, I sort of let the Hurricanes drift away. Barry wanted to play again, but we had all these Heartbreakers gigs coming up. Then Barry got in the Rockats and it was a good gig. So I started auditioning people again that following September. Actually, it was a year ago now. I was playing with Ivan Julian for a while, but that didn’t work out either. He wasn’t used to singing or writing his own songs. But now he’s really good. He’s got his own group.
FF: The Outsets.
Walter: Yeah, they’re real good. Then I was going to play with Steve Dior (from the Idols) and that fell through. The first gig came up last April and Steve was supposed to come back from London and play with us. He rehearsed with us. He went to London to work on a single and was supposed to come back in a week. He called up saying, “I have a record deal over here, so I’m not coming back. See you later guys.” This was two days before the gig and I’m going, “Oh, fuck! Our first gig and it’s gonna be a power trio.” We did it as a trio for the first six or seven numbers, then I brought Richie up and he played about four songs with us. We did the same thing at the second gig in Jersey and I thought, “Aw, fuck, I might as well have him in the band. It’ll keep in out of trouble and keep him off the streets. [Melodiously] And that’s how we evolved.
FF: Were you a Dolls fan? Did you go to a lot of their shows?
Walter: I went to see all of their shows. They were events. They were the best thing that happened to New York because they revived rock’n’roll. All the music at the time was getting to be heavy fucking Yes, Moody Blues, and orchestral shit that you have to be a genius to play guitar. It wasn’t rock’n’roll anymore. It was turning into fucking heaven music or something. The Dolls were people that we knew and they weren’t geniuses. They weren’t technical giants. They played rock’n’roll. They revived all these great old songs. They were fun. Everything they did was like a party. They gave all the young kids the inspiration: “If these give clowns who look like idiots and can’t even play can get up, do a show, become popular, and get a record deal, then I can do it, too!” Everybody started forming bands and started the whole New York Scene. They were like the first punk band.
FF: What was the first rock’n’roll song that you remember liking?
Walter: “Hound Dog.”
FF: Was that the first one you bought?
Walter: I didn’t start buying records until I was in fifth or sixth grate. I bought 45s. It was probably something like “Wild One” by Bobby Rydell, or one of those old crazy songs like, “Mr. Custer” (Larry Verne) or “Purple People Eater” (Sheb Wooley). I liked Elvis. I had my grandfather buy me an Elvis album when I was a little kid because I didn’t have enough money at the time. I used to like Pat Boone. I liked (Boone’s) “Bernadine.” I was a little kid and I didn’t know who was cool and who wasn’t cool. I didn’t start buying records until I started going out with girls in fifth and sixth grade. In fact, in those Victorian times, you didn’t get laid until you were like sixteen or seventeen. It was real hard to get laid until you were even eighteen, actually. People didn’t fuck when they were two years old like they do today. It was much more difficult. I used to buy Four Seasons and Beach Boys records before the Beatles and the Stones. It was more to have parties with and dance to. It wasn’t serious. I started playing guitar around then, but I couldn’t pick it up, so I gave it up. I was about twelve when I started to play guitar. I took lessons for a couple of months. I couldn’t get the hang of it. I thought it was too boring. Then I started getting laid when I was eighteen.
FF: That inspired you to learn to play guitar?
Walter: Seriously!
FF: What New York groups did you like around 1975?
Walter: At the beginning of the Scene? I liked Television back then, when Richard Hell and Richard Lloyd were still in the band.
FF: I think Richard Lloyd is great.
Walter: They were cool. Now, he’s sort of like a beanhead. He’s gone mental or something. He’s lost his mind. I liked Patti Smith in the beginning before she got too popular. She got obnoxious later on – a big Keith Richards groupie gone mad. She used to do these shows at Le Jardin and these weird little clubs with just Richard Sohl on piano, Lenny Kaye on guitar, and her. She’d be reading this poetry by Rimbaud and it was sort of funky at the time. It was new and interesting. Television was the first group to show up in ripped clothes and eyeballs pointing in every direction. That was more in 1974 than 1975. The Ramones I liked when I first saw them. I thought they were cool. They were funny. The guys in the Demons said, “There’s this real dumb group playing around. They play the same song for twenty minutes. They’re real terrible. They’re gross.” We were on the same bill with them one night. I said, “Oh yeah, I’ll have to see them” I saw them and I loved them right away. I thought they were the coolest thing that was happening. They guys in the Demons were so backwards. They were into old wave rock – heavy metal.
FF: What groups do you like now?
Walter: Now it’s weird. I go through different phases. I play a lot of stuff. I still like Stevie Wonder. I like his old stuff best. I like Talking Heats, Bowie (and) Stones. As far as New York groups, there aren’t that many. The Blessed I always liked, but I like them because they are fun, not because they’re great. Blondie I like. People say they’ve sold out, but I respect them. Debbie (Harry) deserves it. She’s been around a long time and they’re great people.
FF: Speaking of the Blessed, where was their single recorded?
Walter: A studio in Bayside (Queens, NY). Actually, the Heroes are going in there December 16 to record their first single.
FF: Independently?
Walter: Yea, we’re going to print a thousand copies. Managers and agents need a tape and a single to book us, so we need a single. We’re going to try to get a deal out of it.
FF: Do you know which two songs?
Walter: I know “Crazy Little Baby” will probably be on the A-side. The B-side I’m not sure of. It might be one of Richie’s or one of mine.
FF: Put “Flight” on the flip, then it’ll be a fast side and a slow side.
Walter: “Fight might be a good one. A friend of mine, Dave Eng, has a studio in Bayside. It was eight tracks when the Blessed did it. It’s in the basement of his house and it’s really nice. He gives us a good deal on the time. Now it’s sixteen tracks. It’s professional. He knows what he’s doing. Jim Miller might produce us. [I phoned Walter on January 8, and he said the basic tracks for the Heroes’ single, “Crazy Little Baby” b/w Richie’s “Turn It Up” were already finished – nf] The Blessed single was just with Dave and us. He mixed it. It was the first time they’d been in the studio and they didn’t really know what they were doing. The drummer was pretty professional. It took longer than it would with an ordinary group. Billy (Stark), the lead singer, is tone deaf, so it took a long time to get the vocals down. We thought “American Bandstand” was going to be the A-side because live, it was a much better song than “Deep Frenzy.” It had a chorus and came out great live. “Deep Frenzy” had a nice little riff in it, but no one knew what the words were. We just screamed the words out and it didn’t make any sense. “Deep Frenzy” came out sounding ten times better than “American Bandstand.” For some reason, “American Bandstand” didn’t jell.
FF: What was the most memorable thing about playing with the Blessed?

Walter: It was just fun. The audience was all these crazy, young punks screaming. It was like playing in a teeny bop group – the Bay City Rollers or the Beatles, or something like that.
FF: They weren’t jaded, they were enthusiastic.
Walter: Yeah. The Heartbreakers always attracted the sleaziest crowd – all these gross groupie who dressed up in Frederick’s of Hollywood clothes. They were all drug addicts. The Blessed audience was the average meathead from Brooklyn or New Jersey. The Heartbreakers crowd was older, jaded, and more disgusting. With the Blessed, there were all these young punks. It was refreshing. It was good because you get all these crazy kids running up to you, asking for autographs. The Blessed looked up to me like a father figure. I was like their idol. I didn’t know that. I knew they liked me in the Heartbreakers, but I didn’t know they were thinking, “This is dynamite! Walter Lure is going to play with us.” They thought it was going to make them stars overnight. It was great fun, but I left when they sort of wanted me to get serious. They signed this weird record deal and it was a total rip-off. They ended up not getting anything out of it. It was this guy Bobby Orlando from Yonkers. He got a hit album out of this band called the Now. I saw the record deal and said, “You guys are crazy if you sign this.” There was no advance money and no time limit listed for how long they would be signed. The royalty was like four percent, which is coolie royalties. It was the worst record deal I have ever seen. They signed it because they were desperate to sign anything. They wanted to be rock’n’roll stars. They thought they’d be stars if they signed. But it turned out that they never even got into the studio. The guy rented a van for them to do one gig in Philadelphia. That’s all he ever did for them. It was a total joke. By that time, I had to get out because I knew it wasn’t going anywhere. In the beginning, I thought there might be some potential. They did have a lot of stage presence and they had a big following.
FF: Their guitarist, Howie Pyro, has a lot of personality.
Walter: Howe’s got personality and Billy looks good, too. But things began to get dormant. Here’s this guy that’s trying to imitate Mick Jagger and he can’t even sing to save his life. I like them a lot. They’re all good friends and real nice guys. They were too young and didn’t know what was going on. I couldn’t wait around for them to grow up because I was getting too old myself. [Laughs] Plus, they were saying, “Walter’s playing around with little boys.” All these sordid rumors were going around. People never think I do these things for innocent reasons. They always have to attribute some sordid, sexual perversion behind everything I do. After I did the single, I realized it was going to take these guys a long time to get it together. I couldn’t wait around that long. One gig at Max’s was the turning point. They had a lot of important record company people coming down. We played and it was blah. I had to break away and start a serious band. Plus, I missed singing. I didn’t sing in the Blessed except backups. I wouldn’t play with a lead singer again, unless he was really great.


  1. Thank you so much for this! I am glad I happened upon your blog...

  2. Hey MJG, there are a lot of musicians out there that deserve all the press they can get, such as Walter. He really was an important part of the New York music history of the '70s and '80s. Hell, he even did some of the uncredited guitar solos on the Ramones albums.

  3. Thanks for posting this great interview. Walter is such an unsung hero of rock history, and a great guitar player to boot.