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Killing Joke guitarist Geordie Walker dies aged 64 after stroke

Walker was known for his unique approach to the guitar, which Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine once described as “this effortless playing producing a monstrous sound”.

Guitarist Kevin 'Geordie' Walker of Killing Joke

Image: Jim Dyson / Getty Images

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Geordie Walker, founder and guitarist of post-punk band Killing Joke, has died at the age of 64.

News of Walker’s passing was confirmed by the band, who shared that Walker had passed away on the morning of 26 November after suffering a stroke: “He was surrounded by family. We are devastated. Rest in peace brother.”

Born on 18 December 1958, Walker left an indelible mark on the music scene with his unorthodox approach to the guitar and his contributions to the sonic landscape of the ’80s and beyond.

His career with Killing Joke spanned over four decades, during which he played a pivotal role in shaping the band’s distinctive sound. His unique guitar style, characterised by aggressive riffs, atmospheric textures, and haunting melodies, became a signature element of the group’s music. Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine once described Walker as having “this effortless playing producing a monstrous sound”.

Killing Joke’s self-titled debut album was released in 1980, and is often regarded as a seminal work in the post-punk genre, showcasing much of Walker’s experimental guitar work. The band would continue to release 14 more albums over the course of its career, including their most recent, 2015’s Pylon.

For most of his career, Walker could be seen performing with a hollow-bodied 1952 Gibson ES-295 electric guitar, an instrument also used by Elvis Presley sideman Scotty Moore.

“When you find something that you express yourself through the best – something that is completely your sound – why would you use anything else?” he told Guitar World in a 2016 interview.

Killing Joke drummer Martin Atkins has mourned the loss of his bandmate with a music video from industrial band The Damage Manual, a supergroup that featured Walker and Atkins.

“Gutted,” Atkins captioned the Facebook post.

Music executive Matt Pinfield also paid tribute to Walker, writing: “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.”

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