“Geordie changed into a honest inventor of a broad sound that has influenced so damn many folks”: Remembering Geordie Walker, the sonic maverick whose playing can also brutalise and beguile

Perchance Killing Joke’s frontman Jaz Coleman acknowledged it supreme. The guitar playing of his lifelong foil Geordie Walker – who died in November after a stroke at the age of 64 – changed into “like a hearth from heaven”. 

From the late ’70s, when Walker first took the stage as co-founding father of the seminal British post-punk band, the implications will be pulverising, shaking your bones, a seismic drive of the heaviest metal. 

But in the same breath – even the same bar – his guitar work can even be a melodic, mellifluous cascade, mobilising pan-generational avid gamers in genres from grunge and shoegaze to disco and dub. As Duff McKagan of Guns N’ Roses wrote: “Geordie changed into a honest inventor of a broad sound that has influenced so damn many folks.”

Indubitably, no good musician would possess answered the ‘guitarist wanted’ advert positioned by a proto-Killing Joke in Melody Maker (inauspiciously, it supplied the winning applicant “entire publicity, entire anonymity, entire exploitation”). But Walker changed into a sq. peg, too. 

Born in 1958, in County Durham (the availability of his nickname when he moved down south), the guitarist reportedly grew to turn out to be up at Coleman’s door and refused to recede, insisting that his abject inexperience changed into no barrier. 

“This guy saved calling saying, ‘Good day, I’ve by no technique been in a band forward of, I’ve supreme ever played in my mum’s mattress room, however I’m the staunch guitarist ever,’” reflected Coleman. “Geordie moved in three weeks forward of I surely heard him play.”

When Walker did at final save his musicianship where his mouth changed into – for Killing Joke’s nihilistic self-titled debut album of 1980 – his extensive soundscapes were not like anything else on the post-punk scene, and he soon dialled in his signature sound the utilization of the now not going instrument of a 1952 Gibson ES-295 with heavy-gauge strings, tuned down to DGCFAD and normally paired with a Burman amp and Memory Man. 

“Whenever you get one thing that you just explicit yourself via the staunch, one thing that’s completely your sound,” he acknowledged in 2016, “why would you employ anything else?”

It might possibly possibly most likely per chance well well be reductive to clarify Walker’s profession completely by his work with Killing Joke. The band’s occasional hiatuses in the ’90s gave the guitarist time to produce star-studded outfits like Assassinate, Inc and The Damage Manual (he can also even possess successfully auditioned for Faith No More, acknowledged the US alt-rockers’ bassist Billy Gould, were it now not for “a persona so sturdy that he dwarfed us”). 

But most of Walker’s standout moments came within the band with whom he recorded 15 studio albums. Requiem – the opener of Killing Joke’s debut – immediately pricked up ears, its trashy-toned intro nodding to long-established rock ’n’ roll shapes however scratching them out with its off-kilter display strategies. 

Quick-forward to the post-millennium and the ideas-trailed groove on 2010’s The Critical Cull regarded too gargantuan for the speakers. Even on (relative) industrial high-point Fancy Treasure Blood – a Top 20 single from 1985’s Evening Time – his extend-soaked riff sounded like a lonely transmission beamed from a death planet. 

The entire while, crucial ears were listening. It’s no coincidence in any appreciate that Nirvana’s Come As You Are sounds remarkably shut to Killing Joke’s Eighties (truly, fanboy Dave Grohl would guest on the band’s 2003 Killing Joke studio album), while Metallica acknowledged the debt in 1987 with a quilt of thrash-metal forerunner The Wait. “Geordie changed into a substantial have an effect on on me, the technique he played that Gibson ES-295,” wrote Kirk Hammett.

And while the British song press normally sniffed at Killing Joke, Walker made his designate on each and every bigger-profile sonic wranglers reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields (“This effortless playing producing a daunting sound”) and the extinct masters. When Classic Rock’s Roll Of Honour presented Coleman and co with the Innovator Award in 2010, it changed into Walker’s prolonged-term admirer Jimmy Page who handed over the gong (the Zeppelin man deeming his guitar tone “surely sturdy, surely intense”).

Among the guitarists who left us in 2023 – from Jeff Beck and Tom Verlaine to David Crosby – Walker’s death in his adopted dwelling of initiating of Prague can also seem like a footnote, his lifetime sales barely touching the perimeters of CSN&Y’s Déjà Vu

But industrial success is now not every part, and for these that came about across his bleak, gorgeous, utterly uncompromising guitar work, his passing marks the loss of a insist each and every bit as very crucial.  

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