Geordie Walker, Killing Joke Guitarist, Dies Aged 64
Killing Joke guitarist Geordie Walker has died, after suffering a stroke. He was 64 years old.
The legendary post-punk quartet confirmed the news with a statement on Sunday as they shared their devastation at losing the singular musician.
In a social media post, they shared: “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.”
Geordie Walker joined the-then fledgling group in 1979 and, along with frontman Jaz Coleman was the only constant member. He joined up after responding to an advert he’d seen in Melody Maker, which read: ‘Want to be part of the Killing Joke? We mean it man. ‘Total exploitation, total publicity, total anonymity. Bass and lead wanted.’
Speaking about his work in the rock band, he previously said: “I liked the sound of it, it looked rather serious, fanatical, I don’t know what it was but it clicked with me. So I went down to see this guy [Jaz] and immediately started arguing with him about his taste in music and whatever, and I kept in touch and kept hassling them for some reason. I think it was the intensity of the argument I liked.”
He was known for his unique style of playing and would tune his guitar a whole tone lower, once explaining: “It suits the resonance and the volume of the thing, and you can use heavier strings. I’ve got 58s on the bottom. Basically if I play an E-position chord, it’s D.”
The acclaimed guitarist also performed in industrial groups The Damage Manual and Murder, Inc.
With Killing Joke – also comprising drummer Paul Ferguson and bassist Youth – he recorded 15 studio albums, the most recent being 2015’s Pylon.
Having debuted with their Turns To Red EP in 1979, Killing Joke released their influential self-titled debut album in 1980 and later released widely-acclaimed albums such as 1982’s Conny Plank-produced Revelations, 1983’s Fire Dances and 1985’s gold-certified Night Time, the latter including the band’s signature song and UK Top 20, Love Like Blood. In March last year, Killing Joke released a new EP, Lord Of Chaos, their first new material for seven years.
Geordie’s friend Luca Signorelli was the first to break the news, writing a heartfelt tribute on Facebook in which I shared: “What I want to remember is that Geordie was, for 40 years, the closest friend and most important person I’ve ever had outside my family.
“I met Geordie in 1983 through completely serendipitous circumstances. At the time he was dating an Italian girl. He had come to see her, but his accommodation arrangements were, let’s say, ‘less than ideal’. He needed a place to crash. Someone knew I had one. So, a meeting was arranged, in the basement of a small suburban house north of Turin.
“Of course, I knew what Killing Joke was. In fact, I was a big fan. While I was driving back to Turin, in a weird February sunset light I will never forget, I did the normal thing and asked him ‘What’s the lyrics of ‘Unspeakable’ (a song of their second LP I was very fond of).”
Luca added: “It was impossible not to get along with him. He was charming, polite, and very funny. The language barrier was not a problem–through a lot of impromptu translation and some laborious sign language, Geordie could make himself understood anywhere and anytime.
“So began a friendship that went on for 40 years, no matter what, no matter how, no matter when. We never argued, not even once. Geordie was always there when needed. He would call me on my birthday no matter what part of the world he was in.
“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.”