The music world mourns the loss of a true icon as Geordie Walker, the innovative guitarist and founding member of Killing Joke, passed away at the age of 64 on November 26. His departure was confirmed by longtime friend and former bandmate Martin Atkins, marking the end of an era for a musician whose distinctive guitar style left an indelible mark on the industrial and post-punk scene.
Geordie Walker, known for his unique approach to the guitar, drew admiration from a wide spectrum of musicians, ranging from rock legends like Jimmy Page and Metallica’s James Hetfield to contemporary artists like Helmet’s Page Hamilton and My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields. Walker’s impact extended beyond Killing Joke, as he collaborated with Atkins in industrial-metal supergroups Murder Inc and The Damage Manual.
Having co-founded Killing Joke in 1979 alongside vocalist Jaz Coleman and drummer ‘Big’ Paul Ferguson, Geordie Walker stood as a constant force in the band, alongside Coleman, since its inception. The news of his passing was shared by Martin Atkins on Facebook, accompanied by a poignant video of The Damage Manual’s “Laugh Track,” leaving fans and fellow musicians alike “gutted” by the news.
Walker’s roots in Chester-le-Street, County Durham, shaped his musical journey. Born on December 18, 1958, he initially received classical guitar lessons before his mother gifted him a 1969 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe in 1973. This marked the beginning of a prolific career that saw Walker transition to his signature semi-acoustic Gibson ES-295, a guitar that accompanied him through every Killing Joke album from the eponymous debut in 1980 to their 15th studio collection, “Pylon,” released in 2015.
The somber confirmation of Walker’s passing came from Killing Joke themselves, expressing extreme sadness over the guitarist’s demise after suffering a stroke in Prague, surrounded by family. The statement encapsulates the profound impact Walker had on the band and the musical landscape, concluding with a heartfelt “Rest In Peace brother.”
As the music community grapples with the loss of Geordie Walker, his sonic legacy lives on through the groundbreaking sounds and timeless compositions that defined Killing Joke’s journey. The strings may have fallen silent, but the resonance of his contributions will echo through the annals of rock history.