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Game of Thrones star and music legend Wilko Johnson dies aged 75

Tom Wood

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Game of Thrones star and music legend Wilko Johnson dies aged 75

Game of Thrones star and Dr Feelgood musician Wilko Johnson has died at the age of 75.

The musician played in pub rock band Dr Feelgood, achieving a great level of success within that genre before later gaining recognition as an influence on the UK punk scene.

In his later career, he played speechless villain and executioner Ser Ilyn Payne in HBO’s Game of Thrones.

His death was announced on his official Twitter, where a statement read: "This is the announcement we never wanted to make, & we do so with a very heavy heart: Wilko Johnson has died.

"He passed away at home on Monday 21st November.

“Thank you for respecting the family's privacy at this very sad time. RIP Wilko Johnson."

Wilko Johnson was known for his distinctive guitar style. Credit: John Bentley/Alamy
Wilko Johnson was known for his distinctive guitar style. Credit: John Bentley/Alamy

Johnson started out his career as an English teacher, before rising to prominence in music during the 1970s as his band Dr Feelgood pioneered the ‘pub rock’ sound with songs like ‘Milk and Alcohol’ and ‘Roxette’.

Johnson won particular fame for his inimitable guitar-playing style and undoubted charisma on the stage.

He had previously been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, but it was revealed in 2014 that doctors had ‘cured’ him by performing an 11-hour operation to remove a tumour.

Dr Feelgood formed in Essex back in the early 1970s and are considered to have been a big influence on the burgeoning punk scene that emerged out of the UK later on that decade.

Their live album ‘Stupidity’ managed to make it to the top of the UK album charts in 1976, the band’s only number one album.

Johnson then later played with Ian Dury and the Blockheads, as well as bands like Solid Senders and The Wilko Johnson Band.

He also worked with The Who lead signer Roger Daltrey and appeared on albums with The Stranglers, Johnny Thunders, and Mick Farren.

Johnson’s acting career began later in his life, with his big break coming in the first series of HBO’s hugely successful Game of Thrones.

Johnson as Ser Ilyn Payne in Game of Thrones. Credit: HBO
Johnson as Ser Ilyn Payne in Game of Thrones. Credit: HBO

He played Ser Ilyn Payne, a character known as ‘The King’s Justice’ for his position as royal executioner.

Johnson’s part was not a speaking role, as his character had his tongue cut out before the events covered in the show, but Johnson’s unnerving stares and commanding presence definitely left a mark on the audience.

He was widowed in 2004 after his wife Irene died of cancer.

The pair had two sons, Matthew and Simon.

Featured Image Credit: GARY DOAK/Alamy Stock Photo/HBO

Topics: Music, Celebrity, Game of Thrones, TV and Film, UK News

Tom Wood
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