Former Dr. Feelgood Guitarist Wilko Johnson Has Terminal Cancer

Musician and actor won't seek treatment; plans a farewell tour

Wilko Johnson in Leicester, United Kingdom.
Kate Booker/Redferns
January 9, 2013 12:05 PM ET

Wilko Johnson, the former guitarist for the influential English pub-rock group Dr. Feelgood, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the pancreas, The Guardian reports.

According to a statement issued by his manager Robert Hoy, Johnson does not plan to undergochemotherapy, and he is "currently in good spirits, is not yet suffering any physical effects and can expect to enjoy at least another few months of reasonable health and activity." 

Random Notes: Hottest Rock Pictures

Notorious for their rowdy live shows, Dr. Feelgood never broke big, but Johnson's distinct, choppy guitar playing inspired many post-punk guitarists. Johnson left Dr. Feelgood in 1977; he went on to play with the Blockheads, started his own Wilko Johnson Band and even scored a recurring role as the mute knight Ilyn Payne on Game of Thrones.

Despite the diagnosis, Hoy says Johnson plans to finish a new CD when he returns from a trip to Japan, after which he'll do a short tour in France and play a series of farewell gigs in the U.K.. A live DVD, composed of footage filmed during his last U.K. tour, is also in the works. 

"Wilko wishes to offer his sincere thanks for all the support he has had over his long career," the statement reads, "from those who have worked with him to, above all, those devoted fans and admirers who have attended his live gigs, bought his recordings and generally made his life such an extraordinarily full and eventful experience."

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Santa Monica”

Everclear | 1996

After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

More Song Stories entries »