In the 1970s, guitarist and singer-songwriter Wilko Johnson was a part of the rock band Dr. Feelgood. He also found success with his own band, the Wilko Johnson Band.
A statement on official social media channels has revealed that musician Wilko Johnson has away at the age of 75.
The guitarist and songwriter had a great career with his own band, The Wilko Johnson Band, as well as with the rock band Dr. Feelgood in the 1970s and The Blockheads in the 1980s.
He worked with Roger Daltrey of The Who on the album Going Back Home after receiving what was previously believed to be a fatal cancer diagnosis in 2013. The album peaked at number three in the UK charts the following year.
He stated in an interview that he believed it to be the “final thing I ever did.”
Fans of the famous television series Game of Thrones will also be familiar with him from his role as the mute Lannister executioner Ser Ilyn Payne.
On Monday, he passed away at home.
“This is the announcement we never wanted to make, and we do so, on behalf of Wilko’s family and the band, with a very heavy heart: Wilko Johnson has passed away,” read a statement posted on social media. On Monday, November 21, 2022, in the evening, he passed away at home.
“In this extremely sad time, we appreciate your respect for the privacy of Wilko’s family. We also appreciate all of your support over the course of Wilko’s extraordinary life. Godspeed, Wilko Johnson.”
In a 2019 interview with The Northern Echo, Johnson, who had previously been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, said: “It sounds extremely unjust but I’m in the clear and feeling very well except then the fact that I’m missing a pancreas, but aside from that, I’m really fit.”
Prior to his passing, he recorded an interview for the Blues In the Night podcast, which was then broadcast live until October.
The musician, who was born in 1947 on Canvey Island in Essex, graduated from Newcastle University, traveled across India, and then went back to work as an English teacher in Essex. Soon after, he started Dr. Feelgood, a pub-rock pioneering band that helped pave the way for punk.
Following his cancer diagnosis, he published two memoirs: Looking Back At Me (2012) and Don’t You Leave Me Here (2016). In both, he describes how he “accepted his impending death” by going on tour.
Musicians pay tribute to “a presence we’d never beheld before”
After Johnson’s passing was reported, artist Billy Bragg characterized him as “He was described as “a predecessor to punk” and as having a “twitchy, combative, out-of-control” presence, which had never been seen before in UK pop. His guitar playing was violent and angular. He taught Rotten, Strummer, and Weller a lot with his abrasive demeanor. He executes it flawlessly.”
Franz Ferdinand’s lead vocalist Alex Kapranos joined those expressing respect, saying: “Very sad news about Wilko Johnson’s passing. Many guitarists, including myself, were enthralled & inspired by his distinctive, electric playing & stage demeanor.”
Graham Coxon of Blur referred to him as “one of my all-time tele heroes,” while Tim Burgess of The Charlatans merely wrote, “God speed Wilko.”
“So sorry at the demise of the great Wilko Johnson,” said broadcaster Bob Harris with a photo of the two. Dr. Feelgood performed their first-ever radio session on my @BBCR1 show a few days after I saw them for the first time at the Hope & Anchor in 1974.
“Wilko was utterly exceptional. He had an amazing spirit and energy.