Wilko Johnson, Dr. Feelgood guitarist and ‘Game of Thrones’ actor, dead at 75
William E. Johnson, an icon in the world of American music, died on Jan. 27 at his home in Montclair, N.J. He was 75.
In the early 60s, Willko Johnson moved to Montclair, N.J., where he worked as a doctor at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. He performed with his band, Dr. Feelgood, from 1968 to 1973, but is most known for his work with The Band.
He recorded “The Band’s Last Number 1,” “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” “The Band’s Last Number 1 (Remix)” and “Foolish Love” in the early 1970s, and a handful of lesser-known singles from that period would eventually land on his discography, including the classic “The Ballad of the Green Berets.” “The Ballad of the Green Berets” became a number two hit for the Beatles, and in turn inspired The Band’s second album, Band on the Run.
Johnson played guitar in the Dr. Feelgood band until the band’s 1973 breakup. In late 1974, he formed his own band, and recorded one album in 1978. But Johnson soon started showing signs of age and in 1979, his band fell apart. Johnson and his wife, Carol, moved to Seattle, where Johnson’s band released nine albums between 1979 and 1998, including his first solo album, Willko Johnson’s Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Hits.
In a 2004 interview, Johnson said he found the idea for his album came up when he was watching football with some friends. “What they were playing was that old standard, ‘We Gotta Get Out of This Place.'”
He said, “I played it to Carol, and she immediately said, ‘We gotta get out of this place.'”