RIP Wilco Johnson of Dr Feelgood

Staytite

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Wilko Johnson, whose machine-gun guitar style and manic stage presence was a major influence on punk, has died
aged 75.


The musician found fame with the 1970s pub-rock band Dr Feelgood, and later played with Ian Dury before embarking on a
four-decade solo career.

He also starred in two series of Game Of Thrones as the mute executioner Ser Ilyn Payne.

Ten years ago he survived what was initially diagnosed as a terminal case of pancreatic cancer.

The musician refused chemotherapy to embark on a farewell tour. "The decision was quite easy - chemotherapy could do no more
than extend my life for a relatively short period and I thought I'd just rather enjoy the health that was left to me," he told BBC Radio
5 Live.

During his farewell tour an Ocologist fan, on seeing Wilko, thought he might have been miss-diagnosed. Later tests discovered that
the guitarist's pancreatic cancer was in fact a rare and less aggressive neuroendocrine tumour. He underwent a radical, 11-hour
operation that removed his pancreas, spleen and parts of his stomach and intestines, and was declared cancer-free in 2014. "Now, I'm
spending my time gradually coming to terms with the idea that my death is not imminent, that I am going to live on," he said at that
year's Q awards.

Wilco continued to play live until last month, hosting his final gig at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire on 18 October.

I saw Dr Feelgood on many occasions in the late 1970s and 80s. Didn't see him with Ian Dury, but saw him many times with his "solo"
band. I've still got, and play, numerous Wilco LPs and CDs. In fact I put a compilation CD on my iPod yesterday.

Very sad, another good one gone.
 

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Mark, I think you are entirely correct. After leaving Ian Dury Wilco formed the Wilco Johnson band with Norman Watt-Roy
and a variety of drummers that ended (?) with Dylan Howe. Wilco is said to have left Dr Feelgood due to his excessive
use of "billy whizz" (speed) hence his bizarre stage antics. I think it was that line up that supported the Stranglers on their
Black & Blue tour in 2011. I saw them in the Stranglers home town of Guildford. The Strangles started out as The Guildford
Stranglers and played in a pub just outside Guildford that I frequented in the early 1970s before they became famous.

It was great to see two of my favourite bands together. However, there are not many original Stranglers left, Hugh went off
to do his own thing, Jet Black died in 2018 and Dave Greenford 2020. Just Jean-Jacque Burnel left, hence I've stopped going
to see them. That and the audience seems to be a load of old codgers !

I alway remember an article in Motorcycle News (?) in the early 1980s (?) about J-J Burnel having a Triumph T160
and living in a flat with two strippers.

I had a T160 at the same time, but being a poor broke student I lived with my two parents 🥺
 
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Mark, I think you are entirely correct. After leaving Ian Dury Wilco formed the Wilco Johnson band with Norman Watt-Roy
and a variety of drummers that ended (?) with Dylan Howe. Wilco is said to have left Dr Feelgood due to his excessive
use of "billy whizz" (speed) hence his bizarre stage antics. I think it was that line up that supported the Stranglers on their
Black & Blue tour in 2011. I saw them in the Stranglers home town of Guildford. The Strangles started out as The Guildford
Stranglers and played in a pub just outside Guildford that I frequented in the early 1970s before they became famous.

It was great to see two of my favourite bands together. However, there are not many original Stranglers left, Hugh went off
to do his own thing, Jet Black died in 2018 and Dave Greenford 2020. Just Jean-Jacque Burnel left, hence I've stopped going
to see them. That and the audience seems to be a load of old codgers !

I alway remember an article in Motorcycle News (?) in the early 1980s (?) about J-J Burnel having a Triumph T160
and living in a flat with two strippers.

I had a T160 at the same time, but being a poor broke student I lived with my two parents 🥺
Wasn't it a T140? He used it ticking over as a backing track on the Euroman Cometh album.... must dig it out again
 

Mark Savage

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Mark, I think you are entirely correct. After leaving Ian Dury Wilco formed the Wilco Johnson band with Norman Watt-Roy
and a variety of drummers that ended (?) with Dylan Howe. Wilco is said to have left Dr Feelgood due to his excessive
use of "billy whizz" (speed) hence his bizarre stage antics. I think it was that line up that supported the Stranglers on their
Black & Blue tour in 2011. I saw them in the Stranglers home town of Guildford. The Strangles started out as The Guildford
Stranglers and played in a pub just outside Guildford that I frequented in the early 1970s before they became famous.

It was great to see two of my favourite bands together. However, there are not many original Stranglers left, Hugh went off
to do his own thing, Jet Black died in 2018 and Dave Greenford 2020. Just Jean-Jacque Burnel left, hence I've stopped going
to see them. That and the audience seems to be a load of old codgers !

I alway remember an article in Motorcycle News (?) in the early 1980s (?) about J-J Burnel having a Triumph T160
and living in a flat with two strippers.

I had a T160 at the same time, but being a poor broke student I lived with my two parents 🥺
Jet's still alive. I saw his last full gig in Birmingham, a couple of days before he got ill.
One of the reasons I wanted a T160 was JJ had one and was featured in Bike Mag January 1978. I still have a copy of it.
I last saw them at the Godiva festival about 3/4 years ago. As you say, only one original left.
 
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I always thought that he parted with the Feelgoods as they were at odds over the 'Sneakin Suspicion' album? He (allegedly) railed against the reliance on 'covers', but the others seemed disinclined to help him write and spent the time in the pub!
 

Staytite

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Hi Estuary Boy, I think that you are correct that was another reason Wilco left.
He was the main writer and under pressure to write songs. Looking at the
booklet in my CD All Through the City, Wilco wrote most of the songs. In
the booklet it explains that Wilco had a bust up with Lee about the choice
of songs on Sneaking' Suspicion and things had not been good between them
for some time.

No mention in the booklet about his "Billy Whizz" consumption, but I thought it
was well known at the time. "Whizz" being popular at the time to enable "greasers",
as us bikers were known then, to stay up late, drink more beer and whizz about
on motorcycles. But "not me officer".

Lee sadly died in 1994 of cancer aged 41. I was living and working abroad at that
time, but I sort of remember going to a memorial/anniversay event at a hotel on
Canvey Island. I arranged a few business meetings to get me there. "Why work,
when you can sit in a nice warm room and have a meeting?". Not sure if it was
the first anniversary or a later one, but it was packed.

The Wilco Feelgoods gave me and my mates a lot of good times. I stopped going to
see the Feelgoods when Steve Walwyn became the guitarist. He played long solos
like prog/heavy rock, unlike the famous choppy guitar style of Wilco.

Anybody seen the Feelgoods recently ? Seem to have a new guitarist and singer.

Anybody go to the anniversaries of Lee's death which I've now read are annual.

Right, I've probably bored everybody sh**less, so I'll shut up now.
 

Staytite

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Jet's still alive. I saw his last full gig in Birmingham, a couple of days before he got ill.
One of the reasons I wanted a T160 was JJ had one and was featured in Bike Mag January 1978. I still have a copy of it.
I last saw them at the Godiva festival about 3/4 years ago. As you say, only one original left.
Sorry another reply

Hi Mark

Glad to hear Jet is still alive.

Does the Bike Magazine article tell the tale of JJ Burnel living with two strippers ?
Is that article I remember ?
 

Mark Savage

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Sorry another reply

Hi Mark

Glad to hear Jet is still alive.

Does the Bike Magazine article tell the tale of JJ Burnel living with two strippers ?
Is that article I remember ?
I don't think so, I'll have to check in case there's any pictures.
 

Staytite

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Interview wit J-J B from The Scotsman dated 2009 :

Do you regret the Nice 'N' Sleazy tour with go-go dancers?

No. The girls wanted to strip, and it was made to look as if we exploited them. It was more them saying,
'We'll show them who's the boss.' I lived with two of the girls, they were my flatmates, and they got some
friends together who were strippers. They made us do it!

Sadly no pictures :(
 

Staytite

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RIP Wilco Johnson of Dr Feelgood

Picture of The Stanglers in Battersea Park 1978
 
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Hi Estuary Boy, I think that you are correct that was another reason Wilco left.
He was the main writer and under pressure to write songs. Looking at the
booklet in my CD All Through the City, Wilco wrote most of the songs. In
the booklet it explains that Wilco had a bust up with Lee about the choice
of songs on Sneaking' Suspicion and things had not been good between them
for some time.

No mention in the booklet about his "Billy Whizz" consumption, but I thought it
was well known at the time. "Whizz" being popular at the time to enable "greasers",
as us bikers were known then, to stay up late, drink more beer and whizz about
on motorcycles. But "not me officer".

Lee sadly died in 1994 of cancer aged 41. I was living and working abroad at that
time, but I sort of remember going to a memorial/anniversay event at a hotel on
Canvey Island. I arranged a few business meetings to get me there. "Why work,
when you can sit in a nice warm room and have a meeting?". Not sure if it was
the first anniversary or a later one, but it was packed.

The Wilco Feelgoods gave me and my mates a lot of good times. I stopped going to
see the Feelgoods when Steve Walwyn became the guitarist. He played long solos
like prog/heavy rock, unlike the famous choppy guitar style of Wilco.

Anybody seen the Feelgoods recently ? Seem to have a new guitarist and singer.

Anybody go to the anniversaries of Lee's death which I've now read are annual.

Right, I've probably bored everybody sh**less, so I'll shut up now.
I saw one of the later Dr Feelgood line-ups (after Lee's death) by default as they were on the bill of a festival in our local park.
A good, solid R'n'B band (IMHO) but without the twin focal points and character of Wilko and Lee, just indistinguishable from any other competent pub band I've ever seen.
 
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