Wilko Johnson, the erstwhile Dr. Feelgood, died this morning at the age of 75, according to news from England.
The official announcement on his socials reads: “This is the announcement we never wanted to make, and we do so with a very heavy heart: Wilko Johnson has died. He passed away at home on Monday 21st November. Thank you for respecting the family’s privacy at this very sad time. RIP Wilko Johnson.”
One of the most distinctive players of his generation, Wilko and the rest of his Dr. Feelgood helped pave the way for punk in the ’70s with their scabrous Canvey Island blues.
“Wilko may not be as famous as some other guitarists, but he’s right up there,” Paul Weller noted in the past. “And there are a lot of people who’ll say the same. I can hear Wilko in lots of places. It’s some legacy.”
Wilko and Dr. Feelgood were also a huge influence on the nascent Boomtown Rats and, more recently, were the glue that bonded The Strypes together.
After parting company with Dr. Feelgood, Wilko formed the Solid Senders whilst also doing his thing with Ian Dury & The Blockheads, kindred spirits if there ever were.
More recently, he joined forces with Roger Daltrey on Going Back Home, which got to number three in the UK. In 2013 he was given just months to live but miraculously kicked his cancer, allowing him to resume a hectic gigging schedule.
He also gained cult acting acclaim appearing as Ser Ilyn Payne in the first two seasons of Game Of Thrones.
Tributes have been pouring in from Wilko admirers old and new-ish…
Wilko Johnson was a precursor of punk. His guitar playing was angry and angular, but his presence – twitchy, confrontational, out of control – was something we'd never beheld before in UK pop. Rotten, Strummer and Weller learned a lot from his edgy demeanour. He does it right RIP pic.twitter.com/ukoJ69r41h
— Billy Bragg (@billybragg) November 23, 2022
So sad to hear that Wilko Johnson has passed on. An utterly unique guitarist and a truly decent man. Those early #DrFeelgood sides will live forever. Will play a track on the radio show tonight with full tribute to follow. #WilkoJohnson @wilkojohnson pic.twitter.com/sWp18cE5u1
— Ralph McLean (@RalphMcLeanShow) November 23, 2022
Throwback Wednesday: For obvious sad reasons, a day early this week. Following today’s awful news of the passing of the legendary RnB guitar hero Wilko Johnson, here he is with his old friend & flatmate JJ a few years ago. Fly straight Wilko, fond adieu RIP x pic.twitter.com/bKmbxNhmuM
— The Stranglers (Official) (@StranglersSite) November 23, 2022
Very sad to hear Wilko Johnson has died. His unique, wired playing & stage presence thrilled & inspired many guitarists, myself included. When I interviewed him a few years ago, he was bright, thoughtful & an astonishing story teller. His presence will be felt for many more years pic.twitter.com/x6ZzQWojXp
— Alex Kapranos (@alkapranos) November 23, 2022