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Punk classic ‘LAMF’ back in spotlight

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Jesse Malin, left, and Walter Lure are celebrating Heartbreakers’ sole studio album from 1977. (Courtesy photo)
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New York guitarist Walter Lure is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the seminal punk album “L.A.M.F.”

After legendary British punk rock impresario Malcolm McLaren offered his band Heartbreakers the opening spot on the U.K. “Anarchy” tour with The Sex Pistols and fellow punk progenitors The Clash and the Damned, he found himself in London in 1976.

“Britain for us was like, ‘We’re not in Kansas anymore!’” he recalls of his time abroad with late bandleader (and ex-New York Doll) Johnny Thunders.

“London was f—— nuts. The clothes were wilder, and it was like the bands had just learned how to play the week before they got onstage. I found it really stimulating,” says Lure, who appears in The City this week.

Unfortunately, the 1976 tour got canceled after the Pistols cursed on live TV, leaving Heartbreakers stranded in Britain. But the group quickly fell in with the burgeoning punk scene there and in 1977 recorded its only studio album, the trashy classic “L.A.M.F.”

Lure, the only surviving member of the band, is playing the album in its entirety in San Francisco at the Great American Music Hall, backed by Blondie’s Clem Burke, Social Distortion’s Mike Ness and original Sex Pistol Glen Matlock.

By 1978, the original Heartbreakers had splintered: “Johnny went solo, and I didn’t stay in London long after that. I left and went back to New York,” says Lure.

Thunders died in 1991, and Heartbreakers drummer (and fellow former Doll) Jerry Nolan died a year later.

Lure became a successful stockbroker, but still played music with his new group The Waldos.

Asked why he’s revisiting “L.A.M.F.” now, Lure says, “Ask Jesse Malin! It was all his idea!”

D-Generation frontman and New York club owner Malin said that because every East Coat punk rocker he’s known grew up adoring “L.A.M.F,” he organized a celebratory hometown concert featuring Lure. It then expanded into a 2017 mini-tour; he booked himself as opening act.

Malin had no problem recruiting the all-star cast.

“D-Gen had toured with Social Distortion, so I always knew what a huge Heartbreakers fan Mike Ness was,” says Malin. “So somebody suggested him for this, and the idea immediately clicked. And he was more than happy to do it.” Malin adds, “And ‘L.A.M.F.’ is so much more important nowadays, when punk has become such a commodity that kids are buying their black jeans pre-ripped at the mall store.”

As for one punk fad — flesh-piercing safety pins — that hasn’t made a comeback, Lure says, “In London, kids would come backstage with safety pins stuck right through their cheeks. With the skin around it turning all green and infected. And we were like, ‘Uh, guys? You might want to have that looked at.’”

IF YOU GO
L.A.M.F. 40th Anniversary
Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Dec. 4
Tickets: $26
Contact: (415) 885-0750, www.slimspresents.com

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