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Walter Lure, Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers Guitarist, Dead at 71

Walter Lure, guitarist and last surviving member of punk legends Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers, has died at the age of 71.

Los Angeles’ Starwood venue first announced Lure’s death Saturday following a brief battle with cancer (via Ultimate Classic Rock), with Lure’s band the Waldos later confirming his death. “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,” the venue wrote on social media. “He was much loved by all and respected for all he contributed to the world of music. He will be dearly missed.”

Rhythm guitarist Lure joined singer/guitarist Johnny Thunders and drummer Jerry Nolan in the Heartbreakers in 1975 following the dissolution of their previous band the New York Dolls. The Heartbreakers’ early lineup also included bassist Richard Hell, who after a year left the group and was replaced by Billy Rath, solidifying the lineup that would play on the Heartbreakers’ lone studio album and punk classic, 1977’s L.A.M.F.

Soon after the debut album, the band — now known as Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers to differentiate themselves from Tom Petty’s outfit — broke up, but a reunion show in 1978 resulted in the live album Live at Max’s Kansas City. The Heartbreakers would intermittently reunite over the next few decades until Thunders’ death in 1991. Nolan died less than a year later in January 1992, followed by Rath’s death in 2014.

Outside of the Heartbreakers, Lure made the unlikely jump from junkie punk guitarist to Wall Street stock broker, a career move he wrote about in his 2020 memoir To Hell and Back: My Life in Johnny Thunders’ Heartbreakers, in the Words of the Last Man Standing. Lure also remained musically active, including leading his own group the Waldos. That band released the album Wacka Lacka Loom Bop A Loom Bam Boo in 2018.

Glen Matlock of the Sex Pistols — the band targeted by the Heartbreakers track “London Boys” — tweeted following news of Lure’s death, “And then there were none. Sad to learn that dear old Walter Lure, lynchpin of the Heartbreakers and acquaintance of over 40 years since the Anarchy Tour, has passed away. Walter was an accomplished musician, rocker and gent. Good to have known you pal.”


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