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Kevin ‘Geordie’ Walker, Killing Joke Guitarist, Dies At 64

Group was a towering influence in the post-punk, industrial, and alternative rock worlds
Kevin "Geordie" Walker of Killing Joke in April 2022. (photo: Lorne Thomson / Redferns).

Killing Joke guitarist/co-founder Kevin “Geordie” Walker, whose unique, abrasive style helped the band become a towering influence in the post-punk, industrial, and alternative rock worlds, died this morning (Nov. 26) in Prague after suffering a stroke. He was 64.

The group released its self-titled debut in 1980 and scored its biggest hit five years later with “Love Like Blood,” which cracked the U.K. top 20 and helped its parent album, Night Time, reach gold status. Nirvana’s “Come As You Are” bears a strong similarity to another song from that project, “Eighties.” Throughout the ’90s and 2000s, Killing Joke was active on and off until earlier this year, with fans such as Dave Grohl, Tool, Metallica, and Nine Inch Nails inviting the band on tour as an opening act and/or collaborating with its members in the studio.

Walker was also a member of the all-star combos Murder Inc. and the Damage Manual, the latter of which included fellow post-punk titan Jah Wobble.

“No man was cooler than Geordie, one of the very best and most influential guitarists ever,” Killing Joke bassist Martin “Youth” Glover wrote on social media. “He was like Lee Van Cleef meets Terry Thomas via Noel Coward. Very charming, inscrutable and gracious, with a gentle effortless touch, ( both on the guitar and making you feel welcome) that is, when he wasn’t shredding you with his razor sharp articulate shrapnel. He was a virtuoso gunslinger, both with his music and verbosity. He wouldn’t hesitate to throw his flicknife into the mixing desk and demand a two bar count, not four, for his drop in, which always managed to focus the engineer’s attention ! He understood that the chemistry was the rub and that’s actually where the magic and soul was … in the conflict.

“He was my teacher, partner and at times a terrifying foe,” he continued. “Eternally grateful for the stars colliding that brought our fates together. He is now flying high with the Valkyries, on his way to the halls of Valhalla, where his seat at the table of legends is most certainly assured. He defined a generation or three with his genius.”

“Killing Joke were one of the first bands I ever saw aged 14, and his guitar sound defined my youth,” the Charlatans Tim Burgess wrote on X. “It was an honour to book them to play my stage at the Isle Of Wight Festival 35 years later.” Industrial rock group Therapy? added that Walker was “a key architect in one of our favourite bands. Effortless player with a monstrous sound.”

Killing Joke was scheduled to perform next April at the Sick New World festival in Las Vegas alongside dozens of the bands it influenced. Frontman Jaz Coleman is also embarking on a spoken word tour in the U.K. in March.