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When rock'n'roll was shaken from its pre-punk complacency by the emergence of Dr. Feelgood, it was their guitarist Wilko Johnson who excited most attention – not only for the startling violence of his stage performance (which was to inspire countless imitators and become one of the classic images of rock'n'roll) but also for his guitar style which combined the roles of lead and rhythm guitar in driving riffs and a stuttering machine gun frenzy which altered conceptions of 'guitar heroics'.
Wilko Johnson, guitarist and founding member of Dr. Feelgood, will perform four farewell concerts in the UK during March 2013.
The news follows last week’s official statement on Wilko’s official Facebook page that he’s been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the pancreas and has chosen not to undergo chemotherapy.
Says Wilko’s manager, Robert Hoy, “The four UK dates represent an opportunity for Wilko to his express his sincere thanks to his fans for all the support he has had over his long career.”
The tour starts Wednesday March 6 at London Koko, followed by Bilston Robin (March 7), Holmfrith Picturedrome (March 8) and Glasgow o2 ABC (March 9). Tickets go on sale Monday January 21. Box Office - 0871 230 1101, www.seetickets.com.
The four UK dates represent a series of farewell concerts for Wilko. After returning from a tour of Japan, Wilko plans to record a new studio album, and will also release a live DVD from 2012’s UK tour. He is also planning a short tour of France.
In addition to pioneering Dr. Feelgood’s iconic mid-seventies, pre-punk British R&B sound, by 1980 Johnson moved on as the guitarist for Ian Dury and the Blockheads.
Today, Johnson’s own band includes Blockheads members - Norman Watt-Roy (bass guitar) and Dylan Howe (drums).
In 2009 Johnson featured in Julien Temple’s Oil City Confidential; a fascinating full-length feature film documentary about Dr. Feelgood. The film received many accolades including the MOJO Vision Award at the MOJO Honours List 2010.
Dr. Feelgood originally formed in 1971 as a British pub rock band from Canvey Island, Essex. Their name derived from a slang term for heroin or for a doctor who was willing to overprescribe drugs. It is also a reference to a 1962 record “Dr. Feel-Good” by the American blues pianist/singer Willie Perryman (nicknamed "Piano Red"), which Perryman originally recorded under the name of Dr. Feelgood & The Interns.
Dr. Feelgood’s distinctive British R&B sound was centered on Wilko Johnson’s choppy guitar style. The original band line-up also included singer Lee Brilleaux, and the rhythm section of John B. Sparks (aka "Sparko") on bass guitar and John Martin (aka "The Big Figure") on drums.
Dr. Feelgood is best known for their high energy live performances. Their studio albums Down by the Jetty (1974) and Malpractice (1975) proved incredibly popular. In 1976, their live album, Stupidity reached No.1 in the Official UK Album Chart. When the band released their fourth album, Sneakin’ Suspicion (1977), Johnson quit the band to pursue a solo career.