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Killing Joke’s Geordie Walker Dies Aged 64: ‘Effortless Playing Producing a Monstrous Sound’

The guitarist was a huge influence throughout the '80s and '90s.

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Killing Joke guitarist Geordie Walker has died at the age of 64.

The band broke the news on Sunday with a statement on Instagram, stating that they are “devastated” by the loss of their founding member, widely recognized as one of the most innovative guitar players of his era.

The social media post stated: “It is with extreme sadness we confirm that at 6:30am on 26th November 2023 in Prague, Killing Joke’s legendary guitarist Kevin ‘Geordie’ Walker passed away after suffering a stroke, he was surrounded by family. We are devastated. Rest In Peace brother.”

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Geordie Walker has died aged 64

Born in County Durham in 1958 (hence the “Geordie” nickname) Walker first learned guitar as a teenager, later describing how he quickly became obsessed with the instrument. "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 [Walker’s father] came in. It was a daily ritual."

After moving to London to study architecture, Walker formed Killing Joke in 1979 with singer Jaz Coleman and drummer Paul Ferguson after responding to an advert Coleman had placed in the Melody Maker promising: “Want to be part of the Killing Joke? We mean it man. Total publicity, total anonymity, total exploitation.”

Ferguson was immediately impressed by Walker. “He had a ginger shaggy afro, teddy boy jeans and brothel creepers,” he said later. “I didn’t care what he sounded like, he looked amazing. But then he plugged in and started chugging Alex Harvey riffs. I worshipped Harvey and that was it.”

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Geordie Walker's innovative guitar style was an influence on later musicians including Kurt Cobain

The trio were joined by bassist Youth, who later became one of the UK’s leading producers, with credits including the Art of Noise, the Charlatans and the Verve. Youth would leave Killing Joke in 1982, before rejoining the band in 1994.

Killing Joke’s self-titled debut album was released in 1980 and after being championed by John Peel, courted controversy with their use of provocative imagery on their record sleeves and fascination with the occult, as well as a brief move to Iceland in 1982 after Coleman predicted an apocalypse.

In a career that spanned 15 studio albums, Killing Joke achieved mainstream success with the singles “Love Like Blood” and “Eighties” – and Walker’s guitar riff on that song is now recognized as a major influence on Nirvana’s “Come As You Are.”

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In March 2022 the band released the Lord Of Chaos EP, their first new material for seven years.

Walker’s unique style of playing revolved around his tuning his guitar a whole tone lower, explaining: “It suits the resonance and the volume of the thing, and you can use heavier strings.” As well as his influence on Kurt Cobain, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin described Walker’s sound as “really strong,” and My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields called the guitarist’s technique as “this effortless playing producing a monstrous sound.”

killing joke south bank
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Killing Joke performing at London's Southbank in 2000: Walker remained a constant member of the band he joined in 1979


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