Wilko Johnson (born John Peter Wilkinson; 12 July 1947 – 21 November 2022) was an English guitarist, singer, songwriter and occasional actor. He was a member of the pub rock/rhythm and blues band Dr. Feelgood in the 1970s. Johnson was known for his distinctive guitar playing style which he achieved by not using a pick but instead relying on fingerstyle. This enabled him to play rhythm guitar and riffs or solos at the same time creating a highly percussive guitar sound.
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Johnson and Dr. Feelgood were an influence on the English punk movement. Paul Weller has said of Johnson: “Wilko may not be as famous as some other guitarists, but he’s right up there. And there are a lot of people who’ll say the same. I can hear Wilko in lots of places. It’s some legacy.”
In 2001 and 2002 he appeared in the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones.
Wilko Johnson Background information
|Birth name||John Peter Wilkinson|
|Born||12 July 1947|
Canvey Island, England
|Died||21 November 2022 (aged 75)|
|Genres||Rockpub rockrhythm and blues|
|Formerly of||Dr. Feelgood the Blockheads|
Wilko Johnson Acting career
For his acting debut, Johnson was cast in the role of mute executioner Ser Ilyn Payne, in both the first and second season of the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones, after the producers had seen him in Oil City Confidential. He related that “‘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 appeared in four episodes: “The Kingsroad”, “Baelor” and “Fire and Blood” (season one, 2011), and “Blackwater” (season two, 2012).
Wilko Johnson Personal life
Johnson lived in Southend-on-Sea. He married his childhood sweetheart Irene Knight when they were teenagers, and the couple had two sons, Matthew and Simon. Johnson was widowed in 2004 after his wife’s death from cancer. He was interested in astronomy, painting and poetry. Johnson’s son Simon is also a guitarist, playing in Southend-based band Eight Rounds Rapid.
Wilko Johnson Legacy
Johnson’s musical style underpinned the early years of Dr Feelgood. A style that has been cited as one of the founding influences of the British punk movement.Jean-Jacques Burnel of The Stranglers says “I often say to journalists there is a bridge between the old times and the punk times.
That bridge is exclusively the Feelgoods, it allowed us to go from one thing to another. That’s the connection, the DNA.” This influence was explored in the 2009 documentary about Dr Feelgood, Oil City Confidential. Reviewing Johnson’s autobiography, Mark Blake of Q magazine said “In the mid-70s the band’s brutish R&B and their guitarist’s eye-popping thousand-yard stare inspired a young John Lydon, Paul Weller and Suggs from Madness.
Looking Back at Me secures the man born John Wilkinson’s reputation as one of British rock’s most unique characters. Wilko recalls his childhood on Canvey Island and how he followed the ’60s hippy trail to Goa … before helping invent punk with Dr Feelgood.”
The BBC4 three-part documentary series Punk Britannia, first aired in May 2012, also stressed the importance of Dr Feelgood as “pub rockers, a generation of bands sandwiched between 60s hippies and mid-70s punks who will help pave the way towards the short, sharp shock of punk”.
In February 2017, The Wave Pictures released a vinyl EP titled Canvey Island Baby, which featured five covers of Johnson-penned tracks and an additional song, the title track written by the band’s singer/guitarist David Tattersall.
Paul Weller has said of Johnson: “Wilko may not be as famous as some other guitarists, but he’s right up there. 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 Johnson Wife
Wilko Johnson was married to his childhood girlfriend or lover Irene Knight. They married in 2004 and were blessed with two children.
Wilko Johnson Children
Wilko Johnson is survived by his two sons Simon Johnson and Matthew Johnson.
Wilko Johnson Funeral
Wilko Johnson will be buried soon but his funeral arrangement is yet to be communicated.