‘Game of Thrones’ actor Wilko Johnson dies at 75

Wilko Johnson, the guitarist for British blues-rock band Dr Feelgood who was unexpectedly revived after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, has died. He was 75 years old.

A statement posted Wednesday on Johnson’s social media accounts on behalf of his family said the singer died Monday evening at his home in southeast England.

Born John Wilkinson in 1947, Johnson grew up on Canvey Island, an oilfield town on England’s River Thames. He studied Anglo-Saxon literature at Newcastle University and worked as a teacher before creating Dr Feelgood and his local colleagues.

During rock’s heyday, they played the classic blues and R&B, dressed in cheap suits that made them look, Johnson later said, like “bank robbers.”

Johnson helped give Dr Feelgood an accidental edge with his relentless guitar style and thousand-yard glare – a menacing look that would later land him a role as the silent assassin Ser Ilyn Payne on ‘Game of Thrones’.

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The anarchic outfit inspired the bands that would soon drive the punk explosion in the UK, and gained international fame, scoring a UK No. 1 album. 1, the US tour is in partnership with CBS Records. Then in 1977, Johnson quit amid a feud with lead singer Lee Brilleaux, who died in 1994.

Johnson later said that if the band had followed their managers’ advice, “I’m sure we could have been multi-billionaires. But we weren’t. We were dogs from Canvey Island. We were best friends, and we broke up.”

Johnson went on to play with Ian Dury’s band, the Blockheads, and spent many years playing for volunteers, mainly in the UK and Japan.

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In 2012, Johnson was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was told it was terminal. The prospect of an unexpected death revived his creative powers. He refused chemotherapy, decided to go on a final tour, and recorded his “last” album, ‘Going Back Home’, with Roger Daltrey of The Who.

“Suddenly I found myself in an empty space,” he told the Associated Press in 2013. “I’m so miserable. …I could be complaining about the taxman or all the things we worry about that interfere with reality. And suddenly it doesn’t matter. It all doesn’t matter.

“You walk down the street and you feel alive. You’re ‘Oh, look at that page!’ You’re looking around and thinking, ‘I’m alive.’ Isn’t that amazing?’”

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In another way, a fan who was also a cancer specialist volunteered to help. After surgery to remove a 3-kilogram (6.6-pound) tumor, Johnson announced in 2014 that he was cancer-free. He released another single, “Blow Your Mind,” in 2018, and played gigs with the Wilko Johnson Band until last month.

Daltrey paid tribute to “the steadfast Bard of Canvey.”

“More than anything Wilko wanted to be a poet,” he said. “I was lucky to know him and to be his friend. His music continues but there is no escaping the final curtain this time. “

Johnson is survived by his sons Simon and Matthew and grandson Dylan.

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