Wilko Johnson, ‘Game of Thrones’ Star, Dead at 75

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo by Neil Lupin/Redferns via Getty Images)

Wilko Johnson, a Dr. Feelgood bandmate and Game of Thrones star, has passed away at 75 years old after battling pancreatic cancer. 

In a tweet on Wednesday (November 23rd), it was revealed that Wilko Johnson passed away on Monday (November 21st). “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.”

In separate tweets, The Feelgood Band gave a special tribute to the late bandmate. “Unique, a one off guitarist and performer, an inspiration to so many. Rest easy Wilko, you did it right.”

According to the DailyMail, Johnson was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2013. He was told at the time that the had 10 months to live since he decided to not undergo chemotherapy. However, despite the previous diagnosis, Johnson defied the odds and was declared cancer-free two years later. This was after doctors were able to remove a 3kg tumor during an 11-hour surgery. 

Along with his music, Wilko Johnson starred in Game of Thrones as the mute executioner Ser Ilyn Payne, in both the first and second seasons. Johnson is survived by his two sons Matthew and Simon. His wife passed away in 2004 after her battle with cancer. Paul Weller, who was inspired by Johnson, previously praised the musician. “Wilko may not be as famous as some other guitarists, but he’s right up there. And there are a lot of people who’ll say the same. I can hear Wilko in lots of places. It’s some legacy.”

Wilko Johnson Opened Up About Defying Odd Against Pancreatic Cancer 

In 2017, Wilko Johnson spoke about how he managed to defy the odds after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2013. 

“That year thinking my life was at an end was one of the greatest years of my life,” Wilko Johnson stated. “The way I handled it was at all times to understand, ‘Yes, I’m gonna die’ but don’t sit there wishing you aren’t gonna die because we’re all gonna die. I never felt self-pity.

Wilko Johnson then said that he never showed his fears and struggles publicly. “I was never in tears all that time… Looking out at thousands and thousands of people [at Fuji Rock in Japan] and they all know you’re gonna die… oh man. I’m gonna die, but it’s alright. What a high. It’s hard to know there are people suffering from cancer who don’t survive, and then me.”

Following the diagnosis, Wilko Johnson’s manager, Robert Hoy, spoke about the musician’s reaction. “It’s hard to know there are people suffering from cancer who don’t survive, and then me. He is currently in good spirits and is not yet suffering any physical effects and can expect to enjoy at least another few months of reasonable health and activity.”