Johnson gave Dr. Feelgood a dangerous side with his restless guitar playing and thousands of yards of glare—something that would later land him a role in “Game of Thrones.”
LONDON, UK – Wilko Johnson, guitarist for the British blues-rock band Dr. Feelgood, who enjoyed an unexpected renaissance after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, has passed away. He was 75.
Statement posted Wednesday on Johnson’s official social media accounts on behalf of the family that the musician had passed away on Monday evening at his home in southeastern England.
Born John Wilkinson in 1947, Johnson grew up on Canvey Island, a swampy industrial oil town at the mouth of the River Thames in England. He studied Anglo-Saxon literature at Newcastle University and worked as a teacher before founding Dr. Feelgood with other local friends.
In a time of glitz and loose prog rock, they played an unfashionable blues and R&B music at the time, wearing cheap suits that made them look like “shabby bank robbers,” Johnson said. later said.
Johnson helped give Dr. Feelgood a dangerous side with his shrill, restless guitar style and a thousand-foot glare—a look intimidating enough to land him a role. later as the silent executioner Ser Ilyn Payne in “Game of Thrones”.
The anarchist outfit inspired bands, who would soon fuel the UK punk boom and stand on the brink of global fame, scoring the UK’s #1 album , American tours and a deal with CBS records. Then, in 1977, Johnson died amid friction with charismatic lead singer Lee Brilleaux, who died in 1994.
Johnson later said that if the band could follow the manager’s instructions to behave, “I’m pretty sure we’d be millionaires. But we didn’t. We are old men from Canvey Island. We were great friends, and we were at odds.”
Johnson continued to perform with Ian Dury’s band, the Blockheads, and spent many years playing for a devoted fanbase, largely in the UK and Japan.
In 2012, Johnson was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was told it was in the terminal stages. The prospect of an unexpected death revived his creative energy. He turned down chemo, decided to go on one last tour and record a “final” album, “Going Back Home” with The Who’s Roger Daltrey.
“I suddenly found myself in a position where it didn’t matter anymore,” he told The Associated Press in 2013. “Normally I’m a miserable person… I would worry about the taxpayer or everything. all the things that we worry about that get in the way of the real things. And suddenly it didn’t matter. All that doesn’t matter.
“You walk down the street and you feel full of life. You’re ‘Oh, look at that leaf!’ You are looking around and you think, ‘I am alive. Isn’t it wonderful?’”
On the other hand, a fan and oncologist offered to help. After surgically removing a 3 kg (6.6 lb) tumor, Johnson announced in 2014 that he was cancer-free. He released another album, “Blow Your Mind,” in 2018 and played gigs with his Wilko Johnson Band until last month.
Johnson is survived by sons Simon and Matthew and grandson Dylan.
https://www.king5.com/article/news/nation-world/wilko-johnson-dr-feelgood-dies-at-75/507-991ad9cc-cde9-482c-89c5-7dbbee5f56f3 Wilko Johnson: Dr. Feelgood guitarist dead from cancer at 75