Dr Feelgood star Wilko Johnson has died 10 years after cancer diagnosis

Albertina Lloyd

·Contributor

Wed, 23 November 2022 at 11:11 am

Wilko Johnson, guitarist and founding member of Dr. Feelgood, performs one of four farewell concerts in the UK, at the Koko club in north London, Wednesday, Mar. 6, 2013, following his announcement that he has been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the pancreas and has chosen not to undergo chemotherapy. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)
Wilko Johnson has died aged 75. (AP)

Wilko Johnson has died aged 75, 10 years after he was diagnosed with cancer.

The Dr Feelgood star and punk rocker – who appeared as the mute executioner in season one and two of hit HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones – was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer in 2013 and told he only had months to live.

Johnson chose not to receive chemotherapy, but in 2014 announced that he was cancer-free following a radical 11-hour operation to remove a three kilogram tumour.

A statement on his official Twitter account said: “This is the announcement we never wanted to make, & we do so with a very heavy heart: Wilko Johnson has died.

Guitarist Wilko Johnson, bassist John B. Sparks and singer Lee Brilleaux of the English R&B group Dr. Feelgood perform on March 23, 1976 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Richard Creamer/ Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Wilko Johnson with Dr Feelgood in 1976. (Getty Images)

“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.”

Dr Feelgood said in a statement on Facebook: “We regret to hear of the death of Wilko Johnson. As founding member of Dr Feelgood he wrote some great songs which we still play today. Our thoughts and condolences to his family at this sad time.”

Johnson rose to fame with R&B band Dr Feelgood in the 1970s, standing out with his unusual guitar style as a result of playing right-handed, despite being left-handed.

He went solo in 1978 and was hailed a massive influence on the British punk movement.

Roger Daltrey (right) and Wilko Johnson performing on stage during the Teenage Cancer Trust series of charity gigs, at the Royal Albert Hall, in London.   (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
Roger Daltrey and Wilko Johnson performing on stage during the Teenage Cancer Trust gigs at the Royal Albert Hall in 2014. (Getty Images)

After being diagnosed with cancer he released new album, Going Back Home, a collaboration with The Who’s Roger Daltrey and embarked on a farewell tour.

But following surgery in 2014 he was pronounced cancer-free.

He said that year: “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.”

Johnson grew up in Essex, where he was living when he died.

He lost his wife Irene to cancer in 2004 and is survived by his son Simon.

Wilko Johnson performs during Planet Rock's Rocktober event at O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire on October 18, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Lorne Thomson/Redferns)
Wilko Johnson performing at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in October 2022. (Getty Images)

Johnson said in 2017: “That year thinking my life was at an end was one of the greatest years of my life.

“The way I handled it was at all times to understand, ‘Yes, I’m gonna die’ but don’t sit there wishing you aren’t gonna die because we’re all gonna die. I never felt self-pity. I was never in tears all that time…

“Looking out at thousands and thousands of people [at Fuji Rock in Japan] and they all know you’re gonna die… oh man. I’m gonna die, but it’s alright. What a high.”

He added: “It’s hard to know there are people suffering from cancer who don’t survive, and then me.”

Published by anthonyhayble

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