WALTER LURE ON CBGB’S


Talking exclusively to Kris Needs in the latest issue of Vive Le Rock about CBGB’s, here’s some extra food for thought from Walter Lure of The Heartbreakers/The Waldos…



Downtown Manhattan and The Bowery: then & now…
“The Bowery consisted of a few block stretches of restaurant supply stores and a few blocks of lighting stores before it became the middle spine of Chinatown down below Canal Street. There were multiple transient hotels for homeless people strewn in between, which were little more than big rooms with a hundred bunk beds or mattresses thrown about for people to sleep on for $1 a night as well as a few bleak, dirty bars for drunks to feed their habits when they begged a few dollars on the streets. The rest of downtown Manhattan wasn’t much better with all the slums in the East Village headed east on Avenues A through D. That’s where all the drug dealers were and where everyone went to pick up their poisons of choice. Danger lurked as well with shootings and murders being reported on a regular basis. Today it all looks like a sunny day up on Oxford Street in London or Madison Ave in New York, a complete reversal of fortune, as it were. Apartment and housing prices have gone into the stratosphere where only rich trust fund babies can afford to live there and galleries and boutiques with equally absurd price tags have replaced all the old derelict bars and seedy businesses. While it may be safer and look a lot nicer, it has lost all the character that made it so attractive in the past. We used to feel that we were on an adventure and putting lives at risk just by hanging out down there. That gave the whole scene the edge that made it feel exciting.”





First band watched at CBGB’s…


“Not quite sure but it was probably Television, Patti Smith or maybe my friends, The Marbles. It could have been the Ramones as well but I can’t remember exactly.”





The CB’s scene…


“Well, we all thought we were the centre of the universe back then, but it took a few years before anything significant started happening. We were little tempests in a teapot as far as the American music scene was concerned. The only recording deals being signed were these predatory ones by hustlers parading themselves as music moguls who would sign the band to these deals where they would lose almost all their rights to the songs. Later, it took off much further than we thought back then but it wasn’t just New York anymore – all the other cities, especially London, became their own centres of the universe.”






Hilly…


“Hilly was an incredible character to have been able to sit through all that stuff year after year. I have no idea how he actually got involved in the club in the first place, although he was there for a long as I remember until he died. He was there sitting at the bar, usually inebriated to some extent, literally almost every night during that 10-20 year period. They actually served food in the early days – gruesome stuff and the best bit was his dog, which used to wander through the club all night leaving droppings for unsuspecting aspiring punk rockers to plough their feet into, bringing them back down to earth a little.”






Wildest CB’s gig…


“I haven’t a clue. There were some howlers – Wayne County breaking Dick Manitoba’s collar bone with a mike stand, various drug-addled bands vomiting on stage, bathrooms full of heroin addicts shooting up their stuff in the stalls right next to some others having sex in the next stall, me meeting Ace Frehley without his makeup and not having a clue who he was until Johnny T. told me (no wonder he wore makeup on stage!)… A veritable orgy of pleasurable pursuits. I can’t really name a wildest gig though so I’ll have to abstain.”






The benefits of hanging out at CB’s…


“Well, we got to meet just about everyone in the music scene who was anyone at the time, as well as tons of other notables. People seeing us play there would spread the word and that’s probably how we got hooked up with Malcolm McLaren and the Sex Pistols’ Anarchy tour. Lee Childers met us there and a host of others. It was definitely good for business as well as on a personal level – I can’t remember how many liaisons I made there and woke up in the morning in bed with them. I’ll not name any names in order to protect their reputations and my own sometimes drink and drug addled choices that many times left me bewildered the next morning trying to figure out how I ended up in whatever situation I was in (and most of all how to get out of it graciously!).”



READ MORE INTERVIEWS ABOUT CBGB’S IN THE NEW ISSUE (NO. 14), OUT NOW. ORDER YOUR COPY HERE.

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