- 23 Nov 22
"Wilko was a unique and brilliant musician. The Mary Stokes Band were privileged to share time with him..."
Fans, friends and fellow musicians around the world continue to pay tribute to Wilko Johnson following news of his death this week – including acclaimed Irish singer Mary Stokes, who has shared her memories of "the innate wildness that he brought to his playing" with Hot Press.
The English guitarist and songwriter – who rose to prominence as a member of Dr Feelgood in the '70s – died at home on Monday, aged 75.
"Wilko was a unique and brilliant musician," she comments. "The Mary Stokes Band were privileged to share time with him – thank you to Brian Palm for catching this photo [above], from one such occasion. A huge presence, Wilko’s no-nonsense, powerhouse genius delivery was extraordinary and hugely influential.
“Along with Lee Brilleaux and the rest of Dr. Feelgood, Wilko was massively important for me – and to my sense of where Blues sits when you’re not born and raised in Memphis, Mississippi or the Chicago of the 1940s and 1950s. One of my brothers, Conor, was a particularly avid Dr. Feelgood devotee, and the albums, Down By The Jetty and Malpractice – both released in 1975 – were played regularly and loudly as I grew up. Tracks like ‘Roxette’, ‘She Does it Right’, and ‘Back In The Night’ – all written by Wilko – were hard-hitting, unapologetic blues, Wilkos wild-eyed guitar-playing genius feeding the engine, stoking the blaze."
"The last time we met Wilko was after a brilliant gig in Dublin," Stokes continues. "Brian and I were sitting outside the venue chatting with him, and with the astounding bass player Norman Watt-Roy, who we had initially met through his work with Ian Dury. As we talked, I noticed that Wilko was gazing at the stars. It turned out that he it was a major interest of his – he had arranged to go to the Dunsink Observatory in Dublin the following day, which he was really looking forward to. He was a big fan of Saturn, which – when you think about it – makes a lot of sense, given the innate wildness that he brought to his playing. He will be greatly missed.”
See more tributes to Wilko Johnson here.