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Dr. Feelgood is a British pub rock band, formed in 1971. The classic line-up included Lee Brilleaux (b. 1953, d. 7 April 1994; vocals/harmonica), Wilko Johnson (b. John Wilkinson, 1947, d. 21 November 2022; guitar), John B. Sparks (b. 1953; bass) and John 'The Big Figure' Martin (drums).

Initially based in Canvey Island, Essex, on the Thames estuary, Dr. Feelgood broke into the London circuit in 1974. Brilleaux's menacing personality complemented Johnson's propulsive, jerky stage manner, while the guitarist's staccato style dominated the group's idiosyncratic brand of angular rhythm and blues.

Their debut album, Down By The Jetty, was released in 1974, but despite critical approbation, it was not until the following year that the quartet secured due commercial success with Stupidity. Recorded live in concert, this raw, compulsive set topped the UK charts and the group's status seemed assured. However, internal friction led to Johnson's departure during sessions for a projected fourth album and although his replacement, John 'Gypie' Mayo, was an accomplished guitarist, he lacked the striking visual image of his predecessor. Dr. Feelgood then embarked on a more mainstream direction which was only intermittently successful. 'Milk And Alcohol' (1978) gave them their sole UK Top 10 hit. After the punk explosion their raw, jerky sound and clean-cut image provided inspiration to the post-punk generation (John Lydon being a big fan).

Mayo left the band in 1981. Despite this, and various subsequent line-up changes, Dr. Feelgood continued touring and recording, although the band then suffered an almost career-finishing blow, when their frontman, Brilleaux, died of cancer on 7 April 1994. But, as Brilleaux had insisted prior to his demise, Dr. Feelgood reunited, initially with vocalist Pete Gage, and recommenced touring in 1996. Gage was replaced by Robert Kane who, celebrated his 1000th gig as the frontman of Dr. Feelgood in April 2007.

Following Brilleaux's death in 1994, a special concert known as the Lee Brilleaux Birthday Memorial was held on Canvey Island, where former and current Feelgoods celebrated the music of Dr. Feelgood, and raised money for The Fair Havens Hospice in Westcliff-on-Sea. Fans attended from all over the globe, and the 20th and final event was held on 9 May 2014.

  • Info
  • 1971 – present (51 years)
  • Canvey Island, Essex, England, United Kingdom
  • Buzz Barwell (1982 – 1982)
    Gypie Mayo (1977 – 1981)
    John B. Sparks (1971 – 1982)
    Lee Brilleaux (1971 – 1977)
    Robert Ford … The Big Figure (1971 – 1982)
    Wilko Johnson (1971 – 1977)

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