Obituary: Wilko Johnson, guitarist Dr Feelgood and punk pioneer who also stars in ‘Game of Thrones’

One of the pioneers of punk music, Wilko Johnson has died of cancer at the age of 75 — a decade after doctors gave him several more months to live. From watching him play menacing guitar, bursting with pent-up rage like an East End laughing villain in a cheap black suit and a perpetual dagger look, you’ll think he can survive anything.

He was born John Peter Wilkinson on Canvey Island, Essex, on 12 July 1947, the son of a gas fitter. His mother used to have to clean the floors at the gas company to pay for his schooling. In 1964, he made an installment payment to buy a Fender Telecaster guitar.

He studied Anglo-Saxon literature at Newcastle University before joining the Pigboy Charlie Band, which in 1971 became Dr. Feelgood. Their first concert in London was on 13 July 1973, at the Tally Ho pub in Kentish Town.

They play extremely rudimentary and accelerated 12-bar rhythms and blues inspired by Bo Diddley, Little Walter and Howlin’ Wolf. Their music is accelerated because Johnson is always up to speed. He once said: “Me and Lemmy [of Motorhead] It’s often said that the third day you speed up is the best, because it feels like your skull is filled with Rice Krispies and someone just poured milk into your thought process – great.

The band quickly became the pioneers of punk music. Glen Matlock of The Sex Pistols said he admires that Johnson looks like his “true working class”. He doesn’t wear the clothes he bought on Carnaby Street.​

January 1975, their first album down the pier, with two proto-punk classics, roxette and She did the right thing. written by Johnson, has inspired young musicians a lot. Blondie’s Clem Burke played the album over and over again to his friends on the New York punk scene like The Ramones, Talking Heads, and even Andy Warhol.

Bob Geldof, of Dublin with his band The Boomtown Rats, is similarly energetic: “When I listen to it Get off the pier by Dr. Feelgood I think, those bastards! That’s what I was trying to achieve. A wonderful reinterpretation of the original music with words that are just right for me.”

This sentiment is echoed by The Clash’s Joe Strummer, Sex Pistols’ Johnny Rotten, The Jam’s Paul Weller and bands like Gang Of Four and Wire.

They watched their debut masterpiece in the 1975s mistake and live albums foolishness in 1976.

In early 1977, Johnson quit his job and formed Solid Senders and later his own group, the Wilko Johnson Band. In 1980, he briefly joined Ian Dury’s Blockheads. “Dury is possibly the most annoying person I have ever met,” he declared.

Are from Ice on the highway arrive pull the lid to, among others, their last record, 2018 Blow your mind, The output of the Wilko Johnson Band is very patchy and fragmentary. He has other things on his mind.

Before Christmas 2012, he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and had only 10 months to live. His wife Irene died of cancer in 2004.

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In his memoirs, he wrote of seeing his two sons “sitting together under the trees… I wonder what they were feeling”.

He refused chemotherapy. Instead, he hit the road, on what he thought was his farewell tour.

“The only time I didn’t feel heartbroken was when I was playing,” he once said.

He also played the silent executioner Ser Ilyn Payne in the first two seasons of the HBO series Game of Thrones until 2012.

In October 2013 – the month the doctors had told him would be his last – he documented the process Back home album with Roger Daltrey of The Who. It became the biggest hit of his career. “I thought that would be the last thing I ever did,” he said.

He discovered he had a rare and less malignant neuroendocrine tumor. In 2014, after radical surgery to remove the pancreas, spleen and parts of the stomach and intestines, he declared himself cancer-free after a long period of convalescence.

Johnson’s 2012 Memoir Look back at me Among other loves, his passion for astronomy was manifested: “I really want to go into the galaxies, to be in the intergalactic void.”

He didn’t make it up. This is a true British eccentric who built an observatory on his roof in Westcliff-on-Sea.

Wilko Johnson’s EcstasyJulien Temple’s 2015 documentary, documenting how he raised two fingers to cancer.

He played until the end. His last performance was on October 18 at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London.

Johnson is survived by his sons Simon and Matthew and grandson Dylan.​ Obituary: Wilko Johnson, guitarist Dr Feelgood and punk pioneer who also stars in ‘Game of Thrones’

Fry Electronics Team

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