The band heavily influenced the likes of Metallica, Soundgarden, and others

Kevin “Geordie” Walker [Lorne Thomson/Getty Images]

UPDATED: November 27, 2023

Killing Joke guitarist Kevin “Geordie” Walker has reportedly passed away. The news was announced on social media by a friend, Luca Signorelli. Walker died Sunday [November 26] in Prague, Czech Republic. He was 64 years old.

Walker’s passing was also confirmed by his Killing Joke bandmate, Martin Atkins, who shared a video of The Damage Manual’s “Laugh Track” with the caption, “Gutted.” Atkins also shared the clip on X, formerly Twitter, saying, “God bless Geordie Walker my [Killing Joke] [Murder, Inc.] [The Damage Manual] bandmate – tell Paul Raven I said hi.” Killing Joke bassist Paul Raven died back in 2007.

Killing Joke released an official statement on Monday, saying, “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.”

“This morning I got a phone call, telling me that Kevin “Geordie” Walker had died few hours ago in Prague, following a massive stroke last Friday,” Signorelli said on Facebook.

“For millions of people around the world, Geordie was the guitarist and main songwriter of Killing Joke, a rock band of legendary dimensions. Metallica’s cover of 1980 KJ song “The Wait” introduced the band and Geordie’s guitar work to at least two new generations, but I hate to think of Geordie going down in history because of that. Jimmy Page (THAT Jimmy Page, of Led Zeppelin’s fame) considered Geordie one of the finest guitar players ever. But I don’t want to celebrate Geordie because he was a “guitarists’ guitarist”. Killing Joke, the band he spearheaded through four decades of successes and crises, it’s still one of the most influential ever. But others will certainly talk about Geordie’s musical record better than I could ever do.

“None of this really matters to me now. 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).”

Killing Joke formed in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire in 1978. Combining elements of punk, industrial, and goth, the band influenced countless future acts including the likes of Metallica, Soundgarden, Nine Inch Nails, and Tool. Metallica famously covered Killing Joke’s “The Wait” on their 1987 EP, The $5.98 E.P. – Garage Days Re-Revisited.

In 2015, Killing Joke released their fifteenth studio album, Pylon, through Spinefarm/UMG. In 2018, the band embarked on a world tour celebrating their 40th anniversary. Their last piece of recorded material was their Lord of Chaos EP which came out last March.