Killing Joke Guitarist Geordie Walker Dead at 64
Geordie Walker, longtime guitarist of revered post-punk rockers Killing Joke, has died at the age of 64.
On Sunday afternoon (Nov. 26), the band shared on their social media pages that Walker passed away after suffering a stroke. "He was surrounded by family. We are devastated. Rest In Peace brother."
In an Instagram post shared by former Killing Joke drummer Martin Atkins, he wrote, succinctly, "Geordie Walker has left the building." Blabbermouth reported on Walker's death, citing a Facebook post written by Walker's close friend Luca Signorelli:
This morning I got a phone call, telling me that Kevin 'Geordie' Walker had died few hours ago in Prague, following a massive stroke last Friday ... I don't remember even one moment Geordie was around that was awkward or boring. Geordie had a reputation for being abrasive and sometimes curt with people who tried to approach him, but the reality is that he didn't want to waste his time with people he didn't like. And 'like' or 'dislike' was for Geordie entirely a matter of instinct.
"His songs and massive riffs as the founding guitarist of Killing Joke, are so loved and influential — covered by everyone from Metallica to Foo Fighters. Jimmy Page was a fan. Kurt Cobain borrowed one of his riffs. He was a gentleman, and we had some great times. We will miss you my old friend."
Geordie Walker and the Beginning of Killing Joke
Walker helped form Killing Joke less than a year after drummer Paul Ferguson and singer Jaz Coleman first met. On Oct. 26, 1979, they released their debut EP, Turn to Red, and almost exactly a year later, they released their self-titled full-length, which featured the singles "Wardance" and "Requiem," the latter of which was covered by the Foo Fighters' EP 00979725.
Killing Joke also included the song "The Wait," which Metallica would later cover on The $5.98 E.P. — Garage Days Re-Revisited. Metallica's cover was featured in the blockbuster movie starring Jack Black, School of Rock.
Walker was known for his aggressive guitar playing style, though in a 2013 interview with Metal Assault, he admitted that he started to "play with a little less violence on the right hand. Which has helped me a lot in definition, if you know what I mean, and not breaking as many strings either. I used to snap the D strings and be spiteful with certain chords."
In addition to this particular style of playing, Walker developed what many would call a signature sound over the years with Killing Joke. That sound, most distinct on Killing Joke's early-'80s records, is thanks in part to Walker finding the Gibson ES-295 hollowbody electric guitar.
In the May 2016 issue of Guitar World, he said, "When you find something that you express yourself through the best — something that is completely your sound — why would you use anything else?"
In that '13 interview with Metal Assault, Walker said something similar, admitting, "I just found the right instrument pretty early in the game."
Rest In Peace, Geordie Walker
Kevin "Geordie" Walker" was born on Dec. 18, 1958, in Chester-le-street, England, and became interested in the guitar at a very young age. In an interview with Music UK in 1984, he said the worst part about learning how to play guitar was having to stop when his dad got home.
"I used to run home from school at about four, lock myself in the bedroom, turn the amp up full and thrash it till he came in. It was a daily ritual."
Killing Joke's influence began virtually as soon as they formed and has continued throughout their career. In 2015, they released their 15th studio album, Pylon, and three years later, they toured the world celebrating their 40th anniversary as a band.
In a conversation about Killing Joke's diehard fans, Jaz Coleman said he preferred to call their fanbase "the gathering."
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"In fact, this was partly inspired by an experience he and Walker had in 1982. "I remember back in 1982 talking with Geordie [Walker] when I was in Iceland and we made a decision to start the gathering," he told Loudwire in 2022 following the release of Killing Joke's EP, Lord of Chaos, "which is the idea that it can be so much more than a fanclub. It has so much more meaning to be a gatherer and to be a part of this Killing Joke family."
As this story develops, the Loudwire team extends its deepest sympathies to Walker's friends, family and bandmates.
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Gallery Credit: Loudwire Staff