Wed, 23 November 2022 at 11:11 am
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.
“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.
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.
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.”