display | more...
"Pick up your first thought and take that adventure
I'm sure you'll be much happier than if you're
stuck with the idea of doing what you're expected to"

Kingston Wall - "When Something Old Dies" (from the album Kingston Wall III - Tri-Logy)

Born in Helsinki, Finland as Petri Ilari Walli on February 25, 1969, he was the first child to born from his father's third marriage. His family tree consisted of well-known Finnish artists and musicians, so it is no wonder that Petri Walli (sometimes credited as Pete Walli) later became the leader (guitarist/singer) of a popular Finnish cult rock band named Kingston Wall. The group existed from 1987 to 1994. Walli composed most of the songs for the band and wrote all the lyrics. The other two members in his band, Kingston Wall were bass player Jukka Jylli and drummer Sami Kuoppamäki.

Other notable persons from the Walli family in Finland are, for example his stepbrother Hasse Walli (has the same father as Petri), a famous Finnish jazz/blues guitarist - he played in groups such as Blues Section and Piirpauke. And there is his cousin, Eppu Walli, who helped in creating the cover arts to the three Kingston Wall albums - he makes tattoos in Helsinki, Finland and owns a tattoo studio in Helsinki called Blue Dragon Tattoo Studio.

Those who knew Petri Walli, described him as a philosophical and an eccentric person. He travelled, for example, to the middle east and India on many occasions and gained oriental influences that showed in the band's music and lyrics. For example, in the songs "Nepal" (from their debut album) and We Cannot Move from "Kingston Wall - II" the eastern themes can be clearly heard.

During Kingston Wall's 7-year existence, Walli had only one electric guitar, a Gibson Les Paul '72 Goldtop with sandwich body with the original paint removed and redone in brown. Walli in Soundi 3/1993: "Some people have time to build guitars, but I rather spend my time on something else. And I have no interest to modify my guitar, I rather work in a way that I see a new guitar and get something out of it which I haven't got before. And I must think of my resources too. I have only one electric guitar and I work by its resources."

He was often seen as some sort of a perfectionst - they originally had Timo Joutsimäki on drums before professional jazz-drummer Sami Kuoppamäki (who is often said to be one of Finland's best drummers) replaced him. Joutsimäki left the band when KW was recording their debut album because he ran into serious fights with Walli about arranging the drums. Walli got Kuoppamäki into the band and recording sessions continued. "Kingston Wall - I" was released in early 1992.

Petri Walli's artistic visions were also enhanced by psychedelic drugs, for example the first Kingston Wall album had a 21-minute song titled "Mushrooms". In his 1994 interview (in Soundi 11/1994, English translation) he stated: "I don't know, does the whole public drug-conversation have any sense before people in Finland are ready for it. I could join the conversation by saying that the biggest group of narcomaniacs in Finland are career people, who take amphetamine in the morning under the doctor's prescription and sleeping pills in the evening. And still they demand criminalization for a plant that you grow and smoke yourself. And that mushrooms are the worst thing that there can be. They're the products of Mother Nature anyway and if they contain psychoactive components, isn't it the will of Mother Nature? And all the time people are pumped with chemicals under doctor's order and upon the request of the medicine company, altough you really don't need them."

Kingston Wall was a band that was Walli's lifetime project, and it sure did keep the man busy. All the original print versions of the Kingston Wall records were released under the band's own record label, Trinity, which was run by the mysterious "Pedro Cucaracha". Those who remember Lucky Luke might recall that Pedro Cucaracha was an alias name for a gangster named Horseshoe Harry in an old Lucky Luke cartoon, so it shouldn't be hard to figure out that Mr. Cucaracha was indeed Petri Walli.

Walli was once asked in an interview about his role in Kingston Wall, and he replied to be "the lunatic who tries to do it all at the same time". And that is what he was - a producer, manager, promoter, composer and, above all, the centre-figure of his group. Perhaps his effort on the band was explained through his perfectionist personality. Kingston Wall base player Jukka Jylli in an interview (from Soundi 3/1998): "Jylli admits, that a manager who would have been organizing practical things would have helped Kingston Wall. But on the other hand Pete Walli was a man, who always wanted to do things his way. That's why he would have probably always told the manager what to do."

Altough the band was so popular that they played at the largest clubs around Finland and the record sales weren't bad either, Walli could have been frustrated because the band wasn't appreciated enough in his opinion, at least compared to the effort he had put in it. And altough all of the three albums were released by record label "Zero" in Japan, they still didn't get a big international breakthrough. Kingston Wall performed abroad only once, in Tallinn, Estonia.

With the band's third album, "Kingston Wall III - Tri-Logy" (1994), it was beginning to be more and more obvious that the band project would soon be discontinued. In the release interview of III - Tri-Logy (in Soundi 11/1994) Walli says: "Well, the record-set is now finished. I don't believe that it will have a fourth part, because it's in fact a trilogy of three men on seven levels. So this is the sixth level and next there will be a single called The Real Thing. That's the seventh level. But you never know about tomorrow, do you."

At the time of the third album, Walli's interest towards the Bock Saga (told by Ior Bock, a man Walli knew well) grew and Walli referenced the Bock Saga story in the lyrics and CD cover booklet on Kingston Wall's last album, III - Tri-Logy.

After Kingston Wall played its last live gig in a prison in Helsinki on December 6, 1994, the band split up in a nearby cafeteria. Base player Jylli and drummer Kuoppamäki headed out to work with other projects, and and weren't much in contact with Walli (Jylli went to work abroad, Kuoppamäki played drums in various groups and taught drum playing in Helsinki).

But on summer 1995, Walli headed out to India for one last time. After returning from his journey, with his backpack still unpacked at the Trinity office, Petri Walli committed suicide on June 26, 1995, at the age of 26, by jumping from Töölö's Church tower in Helsinki, Finland. He was then later buried in Hietaniemi Cemetery, Helsinki, Finland.

As for the reasons for why he did it, nobody knows for sure. People who had seen him just hours before his departure claimed him to be about as normal as usual. Nevertheless, the lyrics for the song "For All Mankind" from the last Kingston Wall album can easily be seen as his suicide note:

For All Mankind

"We all know this world's going through some big changes,
it gets to the point where all phenomenons seem
crazy and people start looking for ways to live
outside from the system that makes them all so blind.

Some try to find new fields to explore from outside
their heads, some go in there and find that the
richness of life is so easy to multiply,

just by throwing away all the thoughts that keep us
from learning to now the personality, that lives inside
us and tries to come out,

but facing it is the key to unwind from closing yourself
as the surroundings provide."

Look out world it's time to die
No more crying with my mind

Some of us have seen the sign
the promise of a balanced time

When we'll sing no lullabies
and all of us have got real eyes

"The shamen seeds for all mankind"

One* day we will say goodbye
to all of them who live the time

nomore need to compromize
nomore questions: "tell me why"

balanced heart needs no disguise
but shamen seeds for all mankind

"The shamen seeds for all mankind"

Later on, Walli's work has gained more and more appreciation. The original Trinity copies of the trilogy (and the four singles) are long-ago sold out and are high-priced collectors' items as well. On February 25, 1998, on Pete's 29th birthday (if he had lived), the three Kingston Wall albums were re-released with bonus material in Finland by Zen Garden Records and so Kingston Wall climbed its way back up to the Finnish top music charts.

The influences of Petri Walli's music, lyrics and guitar playing still show strongly in Finnish popular and rock music and his works have influenced such groups in Finland as The Rasmus, Amorphis and Von Hertzen Brothers. As a tribute to Walli's work, on June 2000, a trance remix CD "Kingston Wall - Freakout Remixes" was released. It contained psychedelic trance remixes of classic Kingston Wall songs made by top-notch Finnish underground trance artists, such as Texas Faggott, Squaremeat, Possible Apple and Accu. There has also been Kingston Wall tribute gigs in Helsinki, where other bands played Kingston Wall and these tribute shows have always been a great success - and it shows clearly that Walli's music is still alive.

Petri Walli quotes (translated from Finnish to English):

* (Soundi 3/1993) "I think of myself as a fairly talented sound producer, but not as a guitarist in a traditional way. The most important thing isn't how your fingers should be, but what sounds they make. That sound can originate from anywhere, even from a washing machine. I used to play some good songs with a washing machine... I wanted to bring it along to our gig, but I haven't managed to do that yet. My father still has it, so maybe some day..."

* (Sound 3/1993) "A guitar is kind of a symbol of a woman and if you look at good guitarists, they warm up chicks the same way they hold their guitar in their hand. I think girls see some similiarity in that thing. At this stage I don't want to speak about myself, let the chicks talk. Oh, and notice, I really just have one guitar!"

* (Soundi 11/1994) "I went to India last spring. It was the first time for who knows how many years when I had the chance to think and to be with myself. It was a fertile thing in many ways, for myself and also for the band. You need real eyes to realize."

* (Soundi 11/1994) "Of course I too sometimes get myself really drunk. That's the salt of life, you know. Rough work requires rough fun. Of course there's many ways to have fun, but nothing beats the good old drunk except the hangover. - But life is the best drug. It's really true, but it's kind of ironic to read it from a sticker that's glued to a side of a police car. Life is the best drug, but first you have to realize what life is. Otherwise it can be quite a suffering."

See also:

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.