- (This page covers both Dr Feelgood and the later career of Wilko Johnson.)
Dr. Feelgood are a British pub rock band formed in 1971. Hailing from Canvey Island, Essex, the group are best known for early singles like "She Does It Right", "Roxette", and "Back in the Night". The group's original distinctively British R&B sound was centred on Wilko Johnson's choppy guitar style. Along with Johnson, the original band line-up included singer Lee Brilleaux and the rhythm section of John B. Sparks, known as "Sparko", on bass guitar and John Martin, known as "The Big Figure", on drums.
Their breakthrough 1976 live album, Stupidity, reached number one in the UK Albums Chart (their only chart-topper). But after the 1977 follow-up Sneakin' Suspicion, Johnson left the group because of conflicts with Lee Brilleaux. He was replaced by John 'Gypie' Mayo. With Mayo, the band was never as popular as with Johnson, but still enjoyed their only Top Ten hit single in 1979, with "Milk and Alcohol". Johnson never achieved any great success outside the band, apart from a brief spell with Ian Dury and The Blockheads from 1980.
(Read more at Wikipedia.)
Links to Peel
Known for the raw energy of their live performances and back-to-basics approach, Dr Feelgood were part of a mid-70s pub rock scene supported by Peel that in some respects paved the way for the emergence of punk. Jake Riviera, the band's former road manager, was a co-founder of Stiff Records, whose roster came to include Peel session artists including Elvis Costello, Damned, Ian Dury, Lene Lovich, Madness, Pogues and Wreckless Eric, as well as a later incarnation of the Feelgoods themselves. Lee Brilleaux had provided a loan to help launch the label in 1976.
The original Feelgoods lineup did one Peel session, in 1975, having already recorded three for Bob Harris, with a further two after the departure of Johnson in April 1977. Peel also included 'Sneakin’ Suspicion' in his self-selected 1977 Festive Fifty. Johnson's next band, the Solid Senders, did one Peel session, in 1978.
In 2013, Wilko Johnson performed solo at the opening of John Peel Centre in Stowmarket. After recalling trips to an all-night filling station with a coffee machine to listen to the Perfumed Garden, he paid tribute to Peel:
“I can't think of another example of somebody who is a disc jockey rather than a musician who has actually changed the face of music, because of the way that he influenced people's taste.”
Festive Fifty Entries
- 1977 Festive Fifty: Sneakin’ Suspicion #33
Three Peel sessions, all available on BBC Sessions 1973-1978 (Grand).
- I Don't Mind / I'm A Hog For You / Keep It Out Of Sight / Route 66
2.Recorded 1977-09-20. First broadcast 10 October 1977. Repeated
- You Upset Me Baby / She's A Wind Up / Baby Jane / 99.5
3.Recorded 1978-09-05. First broadcast 18 September 1978. Repeated 12 October 1978.
- Nightime / Take A Tip / Doctor / Sugar Shaker
- Wilko Johnson / Solid Senders
One session. No known commercial release.
1. Recorded 1978-09-19. First broadcast 28 September 1978. Repeat
- Highway 61 / Everybody's Carrying A Gun / All Right / Blazing Fountains / Slipping And Sliding
Other Shows Played
(The list below was compiled only from the database of this site and is incomplete due to the shortage of available Peel show tracklistings from earlier years. Please add more information if known.)
- 14 April 1975: unknown
- 17 September 1976: unknown
- 07 June 1977: unknown
- 21 July 1977: unknown
- 26 September 1977: Ninety-Nine And A Half (Won't Do) (LP - Be Seeing You) United Artists
- 23 December 1977: Paradise (LP – Sneakin’ Suspicion) United Artists F50#33
- 28 August 1978: Down At The Doctors (7") United Artists
- 31 August 1978: Down At The Doctors (7") United Artists (JP - 'Well I've drawn to your attention before, the fact that in the middle of that, somebody shouts "Eight bars of piano" and there's no piano to be heard. Well I've found out why. Apparently the original piano track they recorded was so awful they just left it out.')
- 05 September 1978 (Paul Gambaccini): Every Kind Of Vice / Down At the Doctors / Night Time (album - Private Practice) United Artists
- 07 September 1978 (Paul Gambaccini): Take A Tip (7” – Down At The Doctors) United Artists
- 14 September 1978: Down At The Doctors (7") United Artists
- 20 September 1978: Night Time (album - Private Practice) United Artists
- 08 January 1979: Milk & Alcohol (7") Stiff
- 07 March 1979: Roxette (LP-Down By The Jetty) UA
- 30 April 1979: As Long As The Price Is Right (LP - Be Seeing You) United Artists
- 24 May 1979: Every Kind Of Vice (LP - As It Happens) United Artists
- 29 May 1979: Down At The Doctors (LP - As It Happens) United Artists
- 1980s and after
- 07 April 1980: Paradise (LP - Sneakin' Suspicion) United Artists
- 09 December 1996 (John Peel's Classic Sessions): Riot In Cell Block #9 (Non-Peel session)
- 21 August 2003: John plugs an event called 'Music By The Lake', happening on the Bank Holiday Monday, 25th August, in the town of Needham Market, near Stowmarket. Among live acts appearing are Dr Feelgood. JP: "That's almost certainly where we'll be going on Monday."
- Wilko Johnson / Solid Senders
- 03 August 1978: (albums heavily featured include the latest by Mick Farren, whose LP featured guest appearances from fellow NME journalist Chrissie Hynde, Curved Air singer Sonja Kristina and former Dr. Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson)
- 13 September 1978: Walking On The Edge / Paradise / All Aboard (2xLP-Solid Senders) Virgin (John plays three tracks from a live LP by Wilko Johnson's Solid Senders, only available as a limited edition with the main album.)
- 20 September 1978: Signboard / Keep Both Eyes On The Road (album - Solid Senders) Virgin
- 04 October 1978: Burning Down (LP – Solid Senders) Virgin
- 12 March 1980: Down By The Waterside (single) Rockburgh
- 20 March 1980: (Peel says he went to see Wilko Johnson "the other day" at the Venue. Most enjoyable and came close to dancing.)
- 07 April 1980: Down By The Waterside (7") Rockburgh
- 10 April 1980 (BFBS): Paradise (album - Sneakin' Suspicion) United Artists UAS 30075