Friday, January 15, 2021

WALTER LURE On the Gross State of the Art, Part III (1980 Interview)

Text by Nancy Foster / FFanzeen, 2021
Introduction by Robert Barry Francos / FFanzeen, 2021
Images from the Internet

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

“Uncle” Walter Lure left us suddenly on August 22, 2020. The man was a New York legendary musician and guitarist/songwriter, as well as stockbroker with an advanced Chemistry degree. He made his claim to fame with bands such as The Demons, The Blessed, The Heroes, The Waldos, but especially as Johnny Thunders’ foil in the revamped (i.e., post-Richard Hell) version of The Heartbreakers. This band released two astonishingly influential albums during their tenure, L.A.M.F. and Live at Max’s. Heck, he even had a call out at the end of Eater’s 1977 single, Thinkin’of the USA.” 

Superfan Nancy Foster did an extensive interview with Walter just as they were closing Max’s Kansas City’s back room, locking it for good as she and Walter left, on December 10, 1980. It was printed in two parts in FFanzeen #7 and #8 in 1981, subsequently reprinted in this blog (Part I HERE and Part II HERE). It was so in-depth that sections of the 50 typed pages had to be cut out for length, and it was still quite large.

In honor of Walter’s passing, here are the parts of the interview that were edited out of the original two pieces, and has never been published before this. – RBF, 2021

FFanzeen: [Referring to Lennon’s assassination two days earlier] It’s been like a wake here. They’ve been playing “Imagine” and stuff like that. I’m going oo-we-oo! It’s getting to be too much.
Walter Lure: Yeah, they’re going to overdose everybody on it. Still, it’s incredible. I didn’t realize that I like the guy that much. I wasn’t all that hot about The Beatles. Well, in the beginning, I was. The Stones were always my favorite. So, I’d play the Stones against the Beatles. I still respect them for what they did – even later on. Now that he’s gone, you realize the incredible effect that he had on the whole generation. Without him, none of us would be where we are today.

FF: He was like my number one hero when I was 13, but you don’t see me lining up down at the Dakota.
Walter: That’s like another weird thing. People just go there and they stand there – the power of the guy. There’s nothing happening – no services or people to see or talk to; they’re all just standing there drawn like a magnet to this weird moment.

FF: And some people just want to be on the news. The newscaster says, “All these people are mourning!” and then you see all these kids smiling and waving at the cameras.
Walter: Yeah. They bring their radios and start hopping around and get in the paper: “Hey, mom!”

FF: Also to pick up and console girls.
Walter: Shocking! Shocking!

* * *


Walter: [About fanzines] …Cheap magazines. We used to see billions of them in England. There were some in New York, but not that many, I guess.

FF: I’ve been doing New Age [Nancy’s then-fanzine started while she lived in Greensboro] for five years. It started out as a Lou Reed fanzine and evolved into something else.
Walter: North Carolina?! What happens in North Carolina? Are there punk groups down there?

FF: Not that much: Most groups are cover bands because there isn’t that much of a market for punk or places for the groups to play.
Walter: Do bands get places to play?

FF: Yeah, but most kids still seem to like hard rock more than rock’n’roll.
Walter: They’d rather hear, like, Kansas or Foreigner. That’s always the case for places outside New York, LA, and maybe Chicago.

FF: Greensboro is a large secondary market and we get all the hoopla bands like the ones you named, but nothing like The Heartbreakers, obviously.
Walter: What about the groups from Georgia, like the B-52s?

FF: No, there aren’t that many good clubs to play in North Carolina. We’re trying to build it up. I put on shows last winter and lost a lot of money.
Walter: In theaters? How many people did the place hold?

FF: About 500, but only a handful of people showed up. Things didn’t start opening up until this summer.
Walter: What bands did you put on?

FF: The dBs. Then there was this band called The Leeches that I managed. I sang “Chinese Rocks” with them.
Walter: [cracking up with laughter] You sang “Chinese Rocks”?! What a nutcase!

FF: I’m going to do it with [Greensboro band] Butchwax and change it to “Flintstone Rocks” on December 20. I’m changing all the people to Flintstones characters. Inspired by who, I wonder.
Walter: New Wave needs a small club to start booking groups, advertise, and become something regular. 

FF: It’s fun, though. When I did it, it was more like having a party.
Walter: Not that many people into it down there?

FF: No, unfortunately.
Walter: Outside of the major cities, it takes years to catch on.

FF: It’s not a media-oriented city. Greensboro’s idea of punk is something like the B-52s.
Walter: At least that’s new. I even like them a little bit.

FF: Yeah, but the kids have a few groups that they think are cool. I always had a grudge against the B-52s because they were always the group that the pseudo–New Wave fans cited when the said [mocking a big, moronic jerk] “Oh! I’m really into New Wave!” Yet I have to admit that some of the songs are fun.
Walter: I didn’t like the first album that much, but I liked “Rock Lobster.” The rest of it didn’t do much for me. They used to be funny live. The girls are real cool. I like the girls. They’re funny. They go, “Oo-oo-oo” – little bean heads. They look like pinheads.

* * * 

FF: I hear that [drummer Jerry Nolan, died January 14, 1992 – Ed.] totally retired from rock’n’roll. He’s very bitter.
Walter: I don’t blame him.

FF: Did he leave The Rockats or did he get sacked?
Walter: He split them, actually.

FF: That’s really stupid – just as they’re signing an eight-album deal.
Walter: I know. That’s typical of Jerry. Every band that he’s been in, he splits when they’re just about to make it or when something good is happening. The only band that he actually split when they were dying was the [New York] Dolls. The going started getting rough for the Dolls. They couldn’t get any more gigs. They weren’t as popular anymore. Jerry just decided to split. Every album that Jerry’s ever made or been on, as soon as it comes out, he says the album sucks. It should’ve been remixed, and that it’s terrible. He’s got this thing that no matter what he does, he fucks himself up. With the Rockats, he splits just before they are going to get their album deal and he knew it was going to happen, because they all had these important gigs lined up with the record company people coming down. He splits saying that the band is not professional enough. Like, he’s the most unprofessional person. He’s, like, 34 years old, has been in about eight bands, and doesn’t have a dime in his pocket. And he says that he’s too good for The Rockats?! BuddyBowser said the other day that he’s starting a band with Jerry [Jerry Nolan and the Profilers – Ed.], but I don’t know if that’s true or not. Jerry doesn’t go anywhere. He just sort of hangs out. Yet, he’s probably the best drummer I’ve ever played with. He’s a natural.

* * *


FF: Like [comedian] Dave Street said, [Blondie] didn’t sell out, they bought in! I really respect Clem Burke for producing that great, young group called The Colors.  They are really fun. I like them. They are perfect pop.
Walter: Yeah, they’re real pop. The one kid looks like he’s a double of Brian Jones. The bass player is from Australia.

FF: Robert Vickers. He’s a really good songwriter, too.
Walter: Yeah, he is.

FF: They might be like a hardcore Bay City Rollers.
Walter: Yeah, exactly! They remind me of the Bay City Rollers or something like that. They all look a lot younger than they are, apparently. They’re all real cute and have that poppy look. They might make it.

FF: What was the first guitar that you had?
Walter: Apart from these beginning things that we used to rent called Ks, the first one I got was a Hagstrom. My brother [Richie Lurie – Ed.] started playing guitar the same time that I did. He’d go take the lessons and come home and teach me what he learned. We started out together. But he used to go to school and I was out of school. I used to stay home all night and play all the time. I learned quicker because I was older and had a bigger brain. Then he got a Telecaster, which was a better guitar than the Hagstrom. The Hagstrom was cool, but it was gross, too. You would put it into an amplifier and it would just feed back. The strings are about two inches away from the fret board. You needed a sledgehammer to make it ring out. It’s good for the muscles in your hand. It builds them up. He got his Telecaster and I used to like that. That was nice. Then I got a Gibson SG when I was in college for a couple of hundred bucks. That was good. Then I got a Les Paul.

FF: Is the one you play now your most favorite guitar in the whole wide world?
Walter: The best Les Paul I had was Custom and it was red. It was cherry red like my brother’s is now. I traded that to the other guitar player in The Demons for the one I now have, the brown one. That’s the guitar that I like to play the most because I’m most used to it. I have another one. It’s an old Gibson. It’s sort of like Johnny’s old one, but it’s a bit different. It’s a Junior, I think. It’s a different year and it only has one cutaway instead of two. The old Gibson has these fat, black pickups that gets the greatest sound. That’s what Johnny had. It gets this great cutting sound. The trouble is that the neck isn’t as easy to play. So, I haven’t really played it that much onstage. I used it once with The Blessed and once with The Heartbreakers at the Village Gate [in 1977 – Ed.]. I haven’t played it onstage since. I will, sooner or later, I suppose.

FF: Do you ever play acoustic guitar?
Walter: I play it at home, but never onstage. It’s good to write songs on because you don’t’ have to worry about plugging it into an amp.

* * *

FF: When did you start giving guitar lessons?
Walter: A few kids would come over every now and then. I’d teach them a few things and they’d be too fucked-up or not have any money or guitar. There’s this one girl I’m giving lessons to now. Well, I’ve given her one lesson in the last month. She didn’t have a guitar. So, I gave her the first lesson and said that there’s no sense in taking more lessons until you have a guitar to practice with. So, I took her to 48th Street and picked out a good guitar and she practiced for a week or so. She was supposed to come over for a second lesson on the fifth, but she got lost. I’ll give sessions to anyone who wants them.

FF: How much does it cost?
Walter: I’m charging $10 an hour, which is actually cheap. When I was taking piano and guitar lessons years ago, people charged me $10 and then raised it to $15. I’ve only given one lesson so far.

* * *


FF: Have you heard those Clause Bolling things, like “Jazz Suite for Flute and Piano”? That’s really beautiful.

Walter: I’ve heard of him, but I’m not really familiar with it. I like Jean-Pierre Rampal. I like Tchaikovsky’s symphonies a lot and his ballets; and Schubert.


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