TRIBUTE: Geordie Walker (Killing Joke)

Once or twice a generation, a truly unique voice cuts through the uniform stream of influence. They don’t sound like an amalgamation of their forebears; they draw from somewhere outside music entirely, evoking places, feelings, and events.

Geordie Walker’s clanking, hollow roar conjured the purposeful march of machinery, the metallic echoes of sprawling depots, and the imposing elegant power of steam engines. Rather than taking the sounds of industry and fabricating music from them, Killing Joke did the opposite, shaping musical instruments into machines.

Artists of such idiosyncratic talent become mythological creatures. Their techniques and equipment become legends in and of themselves. Although they germinate outside the stream of influence, they become nexuses of inspiration. This was certainly the case for Geordie, whose DNA can be heard throughout guitar music, from Nirvana, to Metallica; from Queens of the Stone Age to Queenadreena.

In my own musical journey, discovering Killing Joke was a transformative experience. As a child growing up in a coal town in the Midlands, I spent many afternoons watching coal trains in the depot after school. When I became a musician, I wanted to make music that reminded me of the thundering diesel engines, the clanking and screeching and resonance. Geordie nailed it. I owe so much of who I am as a musician to Geordie and Killing Joke. Whenever I stand on a stage, I’m standing on the shoulders of a giant.

Rarely is a single musician so prolific and influential, yet so undervalued – but as he passes into the pantheon of musical mythology, I know he’ll continue to inspire awe forever.

Image credit: Viliam Hrubovcak

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.