The man from Canvey Island, who studied English at Newcastle University before doing a bit of travelling, could have been a retired teacher by now, sucking on a pipe and whittling away at his pension. But no, Wilko was lured into music by the dark magic spun by his first Telecaster, bought from a music store in Southend, Essex, soon after becoming the strutting, grimacing, six-string rhythmic powerhouse behind Lee Brilleaux in Dr Feelgood.
Feel good? Audiences certainly did in the mid ’70s as Wilko duck-walked his way across countless stages and venues in the UK, with Dr Feelgood in the vanguard of the pub rock movement, performing the gutsy down-to-earth rock and roll that was a welcome antidote to the faltering prog-rock era.
Feelgood had four successful albums in Wilko’s time, then followed a busy creative period playing in an early incarnation of the Wilko Johnson Band, the Solid Senders, before he joined Ian Dury’s band The Blockheads, in 1980.
All through the ’80s, ’90s and into the new millennium he continued to gig in the UK, Europe and Japan. But it was when Julien Temple’s award winning Oil City Confidential came outin 2009, with Wilko emerging as the film’s star, and then again in 2010 when he was cast in HBO’s Game of Thrones, that the world once again sat up and paid attention to his extraordinary talent.