I've only just started watching "Game of Thrones" and could not believe seeing a familiar face in S1E2 tonight; that of "Ilyn Payne" - the mute executioner. I knew Wilko Johnson not as an actor, but as one of my favourite musicians. I was so surprised that I googled to make sure and found out that Game of Thrones was his first acting role!
I first head Wilko play guitar with his distinctive style in Dr Feelgood. I then heard him play with Ian Dury and the Blockheads. I became a big fan of his own Wilko Johnson band, since it also had my favourite bass player (I play the bass too); fellow ex-blockhead Norman Watt-Roy. Norman and Wilko had enough talent and musical ability to carry off a three-piece act perfectly. I saw them many times in and around London in some fairly small venues. They had a "Canvey Island R&B" sound with harsh, choppy riffs and drew a following of punks, musos, and blues lovers. My own blues band even supported them once at "the Cricketers" pub in Kennington, South London.
I was saddened to hear at the beginning of last year that Wilko had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and it was incurable. Rather than languish in despair, he arranged a "farewell tour" and has been playing extensively with other artists (like "Madness" and Roger Daltrey from "The Who") and is still booking dates.
Wilko was one of my heroes and it was bizarre, yet gratifying to see him in such an acclaimed TV drama. His musical career has had some high points (here in the UK at least) but he remains relatively unknown to many. I agree with Paul Weller (ex Jam and Style Council), who said of Johnson: "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.