The News Courier in Athens, Alabama


February 4, 2013

Dying guitarist Wilko Johnson rocks until the end


"I think there will be an album. It's going to be rough and ready, because we've got about three or four days and we're just going to go in and to bash it down. We're not going to twiddle with anything."

Wilko Johnson — a play on John Wilkinson, the name he was born with in 1947 — is a mix of clown, curmudgeon, showman and scholar whose life is both inspiration and caution for would-be rock stars.

An unlikely rocker who studied Anglo-Saxon literature and worked as a schoolteacher before joining Dr. Feelgood, he is a cult hero — more influential than famous, and cherished by his fans. Recently his following has grown to include viewers of HBO fantasy series "Game of Thrones," in which the sepulchral-looking Johnson appeared as silent executioner Ilyn Payne.

"They said, all you've got to do is stand around and look menacing," said Johnson of his acting debut. "Well, I can do that by the yard."

Johnson's menacing stare was a memorable feature of Dr. Feelgood, which burst to fame in the early '70s, then blew apart — but not before energizing many of the musicians who went on to create Britain's punk explosion. At a time of flamboyant glam and indulgent prog rock, they were something different — scrappers in cheap suits, playing a then-unfashionable brand of blues and R&B. Video clips of the band performing tracks such as "Roxette" reveal the explosive chemistry of charismatic singer Lee Brilleaux's raw vocals and Johnson's choppy guitar style, rooster strut and thousand-yard glare.

"We didn't look like the other bands around here — they were all wearing frocks and talking about going to Mars," Johnson said. "We looked like kind of shoddy bank robbers."

Text Only


Which foreign crisis is the biggest threat to the security of the United States?

None of the above
     View Results
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Twitter Updates
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Business Marquee