Wilko Johnson Dies: Dr. Feelgood Guitarist & ‘Game Of Thrones’ Actor Was 75

Wilko Johnson in 'Game of Thrones'

Wilko Johnson, best known as a member of the pub-rock band Dr. Feelgood and for playing Ser Ilyn Payne in Game of Thrones, has died. He was 75.

According to a message on Johnson’s social media accounts, he passed away at home on Monday, November 21. “This is the announcement we never wanted to make, and we do so with a very heavy heart: Wilko Johnson has died,” the statement read.

“Thank you for respecting the family’s privacy at this very sad time. RIP Wilko Johnson,” the statement continued.

Born John Peter Wilkinson on July 12, 1947, in Essex, England, Johnson started his music career playing in local bands while he attended school and university in England. After graduating with a degree in English Language and Literature, he traveled to India before returning to Essex to play with the Pigboy Charlie Band, which later evolved into Dr. Feelgood.

Dr. Feelgood signed their first record deal in 1974 and became a mainstay of the 1970s pub-rock movement. As the band’s guitarist, Johnson stood out for his energetic on-stage persona, novel dress sense, and choppy guitar style. He was a driving force behind the group’s first four albums, released between 1975 and 1977, before leaving the band in April 1977 after creative disagreements.

While most recognized for his legendary music career, in recent years, Johnson turned his attention to acting, making his on-screen debut in HBO’s fantasy drama Game of Thrones. He appeared in the show’s first two seasons, playing Ser Ilyn Payne, a mute knight and the King’s Justice, who executed Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) on King Joffrey Baratheon’s (Jack Gleeson) orders.

Johnson was diagnosed in January 2013 with late-stage pancreatic cancer and decided not to receive chemotherapy. However, it was later found that his cancer was a less aggressive and more treatable form of the disease than originally thought. At the Q Awards on October 22, 2014, he announced that he was “cancer-free,” having undergone “removal of his pancreas, spleen, part of his stomach, small and large intestines and the removal and reconstruction of blood vessels relating to the liver.”