Sad news today that Wilko Johnson is terminally ill with pancreatic cancer. His manager says that he has chosen not to take chemotherapy and to enjoy the next few months of his life.
Dr. Feelgood was one of the bands that woke me up out of my dinosaur-loving placidity. There's only so much Led Zeppelin you can like before wanting a little bit more rough trade, so to speak, and Dr. Feelgood's Pub Rock-epitomizing run in the mid to late seventies certainly provided that. There was no mistaking singer Lee Brilleaux's Canvey Island gangster roots or Wilko Johnson's astounding machine-gun rhythm guitar and blocked speedfreak gait. And the drummer was called The Big Figure. I mean.
In a tribute today, a friend on a newsgroup pointed to an appearance of Dr. Feelgood's on a 1975 Geordie TV program, which I'd never seen before. The audience was all in its post-glam baggies and Dr. Feelgood was all larger than life and sharp and hard and proto-punk. My parents wouldn't let me watch ITV, so this Tyne Tees programme was completely news to me when I heard it today.
And for the second chorus of the last one, Route 66, does Lee Brilleaux really sing "Saint Bernard Hinault" instead of "San Bernardino"? It makes me love them all the more, as my way of judging a real English R&B band is by how many place names they mispronounce in Route 66. It means they learned it off the record rather than from a book on how to be hipsters. (He has several guesses at "Flagstaff" as well. Not having flag staffs in England, I suppose Blackstuff or Blackstop seems much more likely as a place name.)
Hope everything goes well for you, Wilko, and thanks for everything.