According to BBC News, Wilko Johnson, the pivotal guitarist who helped launch the pub rock scene in the UK with Dr. Feelgood, passed away on Monday (November 21) at the age of 75. The Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson, released in 2015, details Johnson’s miraculous recovery from a deadly diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in 2013.
Dr. Feelgood, an Essex, United Kingdom R&B band formed in Canvey Island in the early ’70s, were known for its straightforward sound, which was highlighted by Johnson’s witty riffs and juddering guitar stabs.
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Their first two albums, 1974’s Down by the Jetty and 1975’s Malpractice, which he contributed to in various ways, had a significant impact on subsequent British punk and post-punk bands including the Sex Pistols, the Jam, Gang of Four, and many more. Blondie, the Ramones, and Richard Hell’s Voidoids, all American bands, have all said that they were influenced by Dr. Feelgood and hence, by Johnson.
By the decade’s conclusion, Johnson had left the ensemble and was focusing on the Wilko Johnson Band, which he led until his death. Dr. Feelgood only released music on occasion, but after appearing in Julian Temple’s documentary Oil City Confidential about the band in 2009, Johnson’s legacy began to receive more consistent recognition. In the first two seasons of “Game of Thrones,” Johnson played the role of Ser Ilyn Payne, the show’s executioner.
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Johnson, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2013, opted to go on a farewell tour instead of undergoing chemotherapy. However, the cancer turned out to be less aggressive than expected, and in 2014, he declared himself to be cancer-free. Blow Your Mind, the Wilko Johnson Band’s final CD, was released in 2018, and they performed up to the months before his death. Numerous musicians, including those from Led Zeppelin, Franz Ferdinand, and the Sleaford Mods, paid tribute to Johnson.
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