Wilko Johnson at The New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth on February 3, 2022. Picture by Paul Windsor
Wilko Johnson, who played Ser Ilyn Payne in Game of Thrones, has died at the age of 75. Johnson’s family confirmed that the Dr Feelgood guitarist died at his home on Monday November 21.
The news was revealed via Johnson’s social media account on which his family posted their tribute that 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 21, November. Thank you for respecting the family’s privacy at this very sad time. RIP Wilko Johnson.”
Johnson was an English guitarist, singer, songwriter and occasional actor with one of his notable roles being as member of the pub rock/rhythm and blues band Dr. Feelgood in the 1970s. He was known for his unique guitar playing style by not using a pick and opting to rely on fingerstyle.
As an actor Johnson made his debut playing mute executioner Ser Ilyn Payne in Game of Thrones season one and two, appearing in a total of four episodes.
Johnson was diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer in 2013, and was told he had nine to 10 months to live after electing not to receive chemotherapy. In 2014 Johnson released a brand new album entitled Going Back Home on which he collaborated with Roger Daltrey from The Who.
In late 2014 the actor and musician announced that he was cancer-free following a major operation to remove a three kilogram tumour. In the following year a documentary titled The Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson was released and focused on his cancer scare. The documentary features only two voices that belonged to Johnson and frequent collaborator Roger Daltrey.
At the 2022 Q awards, Johnson told the crowd: “Now, I’m spending my time gradually coming to terms with the idea that my death is not imminent, that I am going to live on.”
Johnson’s final album entitled Blow Your Mind was released in 2018 with The Wilko Johnson Band. The musician kept performing live right up until his death, appearing just last month on October 18, at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire as part of Planet Rock’s Rocktober event.