Wilko Johnson dead: British guitarist of Dr. Feelgood was 75

Wilko Johnson is photographed at his home in West Cliff on Sea, England, in 2013.

AP

LONDON — Wilko Johnson, the guitarist with British blues-rock band Dr. Feelgood who had an unexpected career renaissance after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, has died. He was 75.

A statement posted Wednesday on Johnson’s official social media accounts on behalf of his family said the musician died Monday evening at his home in southeast England.

Born John Wilkinson in 1947, Johnson was raised on Canvey Island, a marshy, industrial oil town in England’s River Thames estuary. He studied Anglo-Saxon literature at Newcastle University and worked as a schoolteacher before forming Dr. Feelgood with other local friends.

At a time of flamboyant glam and indulgent prog rock, they played a then-unfashionable brand of blues and R&B, dressed in cheap suits that made them look, Johnson said later, like “shoddy bank robbers.”

Johnson helped give Dr. Feelgood a dangerous edge with his choppy, relentless guitar style and thousand-yard glare — a look terrifying enough to earn him a role later in life as silent executioner Ser Ilyn Payne on “Game of Thrones.”

The anarchic outfit inspired bands who would soon drive the U.K. punk explosion, and teetered on the edge of global fame, scoring a U.K. No. 1 album, tours of the U.S. and a deal with CBS records. Then in 1977 Johnson walked out amid friction with charismatic lead singer Lee Brilleaux, who died in 1994.

Johnson later said that if the band had been able to follow its managers’ instructions to behave, “I’m pretty sure we’d be multimillionaires. But we didn’t. We were geezers from Canvey Island. We were …read more

Source:: Chicago Sun Times

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