Wilco Johnson, guitarist for British blues rock band Dr. Feelgood, has died. He was 75 years old.
A statement posted Wednesday on Johnson’s official Social media accounts The musician died on Monday evening at his home in southeast England, his family said.
“This is the announcement we never wanted to make, and we do so, on behalf of Wilco’s family and the band, with a very heavy heart: Wilco Johnson has passed away,” the Facebook post began.
“He died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Westcliff-on-Sea on Monday evening, November 21, 2022. He was 75 years old.
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“Thank you for respecting Wilko’s family’s privacy at this very sad time, and thank you all for being so incredibly supportive throughout Wilko’s incredible life. RIP Wilko Johnson,” the statement concluded.
Born John Wilkinson in 1947, Johnson grew up on Canvey Island. He studied Anglo-Saxon literature at Newcastle University and worked as a schoolteacher before creating Dr. Feelgood with other local friends.
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Along with being the lead guitarist of a blues rock band, Johnson also portrayed Ser Alan Payne in “Game of Thrones.”
In 2012, Johnson was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and told it was terminal. The prospect of death unexpectedly revived his creative energies. He refused chemotherapy, decided to go on one last tour and recorded a “final” album, “Going Back Home”, with Roger Daltrey of The Who.
“I suddenly found myself in a position where nothing else mattered anymore,” Johnson told The Associated Press in 2013.
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“I’m usually very miserable. … I’ll be worried about the taxman or all the things we worry about that get in the way of the real thing. And suddenly it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter.
“You walk down the street and you feel intensely alive. You’re like, ‘Oh, look at that leaf!’ You look around and you think, ‘I’m alive, isn’t it wonderful?’
In 2014, Johnson announced that he was cancer-free after surgery to remove a 3 kg (6.6 lb) tumor. He released another album, “Blow Your Mind,” in 2018, and has been playing gigs with his Wilco Johnson band until last month.
Johnson is survived by his sons Simon and Matthew and grandson Dylan.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.