Dr. Feelgood Guitarist & 'Game Of Thrones' Actor Passes Away

24 November 2022 | 12:58 pm | Mary Varvaris

He was 75 years old.

(Pic by Leif Laaksonen)

Wilko Johnson, known as the Dr. Feelgood guitarist and Ser Ilyn Payne in Game Of Thrones, passed away aged 75. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2013, but no cause of death has been revealed.

His family wrote that the musician and actor died in his home in south-east England. The family have asked for privacy and thanked fans for "tremendous support throughout Wilko's incredible life."

Wilko was born John Wilkinson in 1947 in Canvey Island, Essex. He found fame in the 1970s with Dr. Feelgood as the band heralded the beginnings of punk rock by influencing Sex Pistols, The Clash, and The Jam.

As a left-handed man, Johnson played right-handed guitar and didn't play with a pick, opting for fingerstyle guitar, which allowed for a choppy, fragmented guitar-playing style. While on stage, Johnson possessed a terrifying glare - his look in the documentary, Oil City Confidential, earned him the role on Game Of Thrones. 

"They said they wanted somebody really sinister who went around looking daggers at people before killing them. That made it easy. Looking daggers at people is what I do all the time; it's like second nature to me," he told the Halstead Gazette in 2011.

Tributes have begun pouring for Johnson today, including from his cancer doctor Emmanuel Huguet, who said, "I feel honoured to have known Wilko. He was uplifting and life-enhancing for me. Like so many other people, I loved him."

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The Who vocalist Roger Daltrey commented about his friend, "More than anything Wilko wanted to be a poet. I was lucky to have known him and have him as a friend. His music lives on but there's no escaping the final curtain this time. So it's goodnight to Mad Carew, the uncompromising Bard of Canvey."

Billy Bragg called Johnson the "precursor of punk" in a touching post: "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".

Alex Kapranos, the lead singer of Franz Ferdinand, also paid tribute: "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".

"More than anything Wilko wanted to be a poet. I was lucky to have known him and have him as a friend. His music lives...

Posted by Roger Daltrey on Wednesday, November 23, 2022