Wilko Johnson, singer-songwriter and guitarist for Dr Feelgood has passed away after an eight-year battle with pancreatic cancer.
The news of the guitarist’s death was shared via a post on his official social media accounts, confirming that he died at home on Monday (21 November).
“This is the announcement we never wanted to make, & we do so with a very heavy heart: Wilko Johnson has died,” the post read. “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.”
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.
(Image: Leif Laaksonen) pic.twitter.com/1cRqyi9b9X
— Wilko Johnson (@wilkojohnson) November 23, 2022
Johnson was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in 2013, stating he did not want to receive any treatment. A year later, the guitarist underwent an operation and declared himself cancer-free, later revealing that he was told he only had ten months to live.
The English guitarist was known for being a member of the R&B group, Dr. Feelgood, from 1971 until 1977, and gained acclaim for his distinctive playing style, relying on fingerpicking rather than a pick. After departing, Johnson briefly played with The Blockheads in 1980, and released a series of albums with The Wilko Johnson Band.
His final album ‘Blow Your Mind’, was released in 2018 with The Wilko Johnson Band, and he kept performing live right up until his death, with his last performance on October 18 at London’s Shepard’s Bush Empire.
Tributes from fellow guitarists and musicians have been pouring in since the sad announcement, with Alex Kapranos, frontman of Franz Ferdinand referring to the late guitarist as a “bright, thoughtful and an astonishing storyteller”.
Very sad to hear Wilko Johnson has died. His unique, wired playing & stage presence thrilled & inspired many guitarists, myself included. When I interviewed him a few years ago, he was bright, thoughtful & an astonishing story teller. His presence will be felt for many more years pic.twitter.com/x6ZzQWojXp
— Alex Kapranos (@alkapranos) November 23, 2022
The Strangers shared an old photo of Wilko Johnson with bassist and former flatmate Jean-Jacques Burnel.
“Throwback Wednesday: For obvious sad reasons, a day early this week. Following today’s awful news of the passing of the legendary RnB guitar hero Wilko Johnson, here he is with his old friend & flatmate JJ a few years ago. Fly straight Wilko, fond adieu RIP x”
Throwback Wednesday: For obvious sad reasons, a day early this week. Following today’s awful news of the passing of the legendary RnB guitar hero Wilko Johnson, here he is with his old friend & flatmate JJ a few years ago. Fly straight Wilko, fond adieu RIP x pic.twitter.com/bKmbxNhmuM
— The Stranglers (Official) (@StranglersSite) November 23, 2022
You can see more tributes below:
Wilko Johnson was a precursor of punk. His guitar playing was angry and angular, but his presence – twitchy, confrontational, out of control – was something we'd never beheld before in UK pop. Rotten, Strummer and Weller learned a lot from his edgy demeanour. He does it right RIP pic.twitter.com/ukoJ69r41h
— Billy Bragg (@billybragg) November 23, 2022
— Gary Kemp (@garyjkemp) November 23, 2022