Geordie Walker – Killing Joke @ Albert Hall Manchester 2022. Pic Credit Andi Callen Photography
One of the most influential post-punk guitarists of his generation has died in Prague, just two days after suffering a stroke. One of the original members of Killing Joke, Kevin “Geordie” Walker was known for creating vast swathes of noise, the signature noise of the band.
He was widely respected by other guitarists Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin hailed Walker’s guitar sound as “really strong”. Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine praised Walker’s guitar playing, which he described as “this effortless playing producing a monstrous sound”.
Walker’s tuning of guitar was different; he liked it to be strung a whole tone lower. “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.” Walker said that “a guitar has a lot of musical capability, but it has the rhythm as well. As one instrument, I think it has the most pleasing sound, the attack, the rhythm”. Concerning his guitar playing, Walker explained: “If you hit a chord and press down on the bridge, it bends all six notes at once, that’s probably one of the odder aspects of my technique. If you want to get technical – things like augmented fourths and sevenths have a certain unnerving effect, a bit like a tingle up the spine. I go for a lot of those in my chord structures. His preferred guitar of choice was a hollow-bodied 1952 Gibson ES-295 in gold lacquer, an instrument also previously used by Elvis Presley sideman Scotty Moore. It is a semi-acoustic guitar, made in 1952, with a trapeze tailpiece. Walker bought it from an old jazzman who played in clubs. He plugged it into the Burman amplifier, “and the sound was there – a full resonance, and totally bell-like with the sustain on it through 250 watts of amplification in stereo. You can feel the thing vibrating, it’s a huge sound.
He featured on all 15 studio albums by Killing Joke, and featured in two post-punk super groups, Murder Inc with Chris Connelly (ex-Revolting Cocks and Ministry) Martin Atkins (Ex-PIL, NIN, Killing Joke) and Raven/Big Paul (both from KJ) and The Damage Manual [Atkins, Connelly and Jah Wobble ex-PIL].
The future of Killing Joke is unknown but one thing is for certain he’ll be sadly missed.