Dr. Feelgood - Impressive Facts You Didn't Know

Dr. Feelgood – 19 Impressive Facts You Didn’t Know

Formed in 1971 in Canvey Island, Essex, UK, Dr.Feelgood are an R&B band. The original band members were John “Wilko” Johnson (Wilkinson) (guitar), Lee Brilleaux (Collinson) (vocals), John B. Sparks (bass) and John “The Big Figure” Martin (drums). They were at their most commercially productive during the early 1970s. 

Lee Brilleaux died in 1994 from Lymphoma but there is a version of the band (with none of the original members) still performing and recording to this day.

Keep reading for 19 facts you never knew about Dr. Feelgood.

Wilko Johnson Was Once A School Teacher

Around about the same time that he met Lee Brilleaux, Wilko took the job of English teacher at King John’s School in Benfleet Essex. He said he started in January and left at the end of July to pursue his rock and roll career. He also said teaching was alright, but he preferred making music.

After Wilko Left The Band, He Became A Blockhead

When Wilko Johnson left the band he worked with Ian Dury as one of the Blockheads.

They Took Their Name From An Old Blues Song

The band took their name from an old 1962 record by the American blues singer and pianist Willie Perryman AKA Piano Red. The record was titled Dr. Feel-Good which Piano Red recorded under the name of Dr. Feelgood and the Interns.

Their Name Has More Than One Meaning

Dr. Feelgood is slang for a street drug and also for a doctor who is happy to over prescribe prescription drugs to addicted patients.

Lemmy called them “3 Drunks And A Speed Freak”

Wilko and Lee’s friendship started to break down, neither could tell you why but the most likely reason was their choice of drug. Wilko chose speed while the other 3 preferred alcohol. By the time they recorded their 4th album the end was clearly in sight. It was Lemmy from Motorhead who said they were “3 drunks and a speed freak”.

They Remembered Lee Brilleaux For 20 Years After His Death

Frontman Lee Brilleaux died in 1994 from lymphoma but every year after his death current and former members of Dr. Feelgood held a special concert on Canvey Island. Known as the Lee Brilleaux Birthday Memorial. They celebrated the music of Dr. Feelgood and raised money for the Fair Havens Hospice in nearby Westcliff-On-Sea. The last show was in 2014.

Their Debut Album Wasn’t Actually Recorded In Mono

At the time of its release, their debut album, “Down By The Jetty”, was rumoured to have been originally recorded in mono and was all first-takes with no editing. The reality was it was recorded in stereo, but the rumour helped the band gain cult status.

They Never Lost Their Live Appeal

In all honesty, Dr. Feelgood has had limited success with albums, it’s true their 1976 live album “Stupidity” made number one in the UK charts. But it was and still is their live shows which are their most popular. They’ve never lost that raw edge which is what the band has always been known for.

They Only Had One Top Ten Single (and it was awesome!)

Dr. Feelgood had their only top ten single in 1979 with the song “Milk And Alcohol”. This was recorded after Wilko had left the band and been replaced by Gypie Mayo on guitar.

They Are Still Popular Abroad

Dr. Feelgood struggled in the US but were successful in parts of Europe and can still be found touring in countries like Austria, France, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Finland, as well as the UK.

They Still Hold Annual Lee Brilleaux Commemorative Walks

The band’s manager Chris Fenwick organises a walk around Canvey Island to commemorate Lee’s life. He points out various landmarks on the Island from the band’s career. These include the jetty featured on the cover of their debut album and various venues they played at during their early years.

There Was A Film Made About Dr. Feelgood 

A film entitled “Oil City Confidential” premiered at the London Film Festival in 2009. It was made by Julien Temple and was all about the band’s early days. Guests of honour at the premier included Lee’s mother, widow and 2 children. Also present were all of the surviving original band members as well as manager Chris Fenwick, former tour manager Jake Riviera and other friends of the band.

They Were The Original Punk Band

Due to their energetic sound and almost anti-glamorous stage show, many have dubbed Dr. Feelgood as the prerunners to punk rock. It is possible that many later-to-become punk rockers saw Dr. Feelgood during the early to mid 70s and modelled themselves on the Essex boys.

Wilko Designed The Band’s Logo

Wilko Johnson discovered he enjoyed art at school which led to him taking up painting as a hobby and went on to design the band’s iconic logo. The Dr. Feelgood logo depicts a dodgy looking doctor with some sort of drugs in one hand which is held out as if he’s offering them to anyone walking past.

They Have Fans In High(ish) Places

After punk came and went the raw sound of Dr. Feelgood was still going strong and in one interview it emerged that Johnny Rotten (John Lydon) was a fan of Dr. Feelgood.

All Of The Original Band Members Changed Their Names

All 4 of the original members of the band changed their names to some extent. Lee Brilleaux started life as Lee Collinson, Wilko Johnson started out as John Wilkinson, Sparko was John Sparks and The Big Figure was John Martin.

Stiff Records Only Exists Because Of Dr. Feelgood

Lee Brilleaux gave Jake Riviera the original £400 he needed to found the Stiff Records label.

Wilko Johnson Was Left Handed

When he started playing the guitar, he tried to play left handed, but found it a struggle. So he changed to a right handed stance and struggled a bit to master it. Which led to him not using a plectrum (pick) at all.

Wilko Johnson Was Inspired By Mick Green

Wilko Johnson’s guitar playing technique was inspired by Mick Green the guitarist with Johnny Kidd and the Pirates. His strumming hand performs a chopping motion up and down the strings whilst his left hand mutes strings and allows certain strings to ring out in order to create those great riffs.

Do You Know Any More?

That’s our 19 impressive facts about Dr. Feelgood, do you know any more? Let us know in the comments below.

Frequently Asked Questions

What was Wilko Johnson’s real name?

Wilko Johnson’s real name was John Wilkinson, he changed his name because there were two other Johns in the band.

What was Lee Brilleaux’s real name?

Lee Brilleaux’s real name was Lee Collinson.

What song do the lines “I followed you into a show, the band was playing rock’n’roll” come from?

The song that the lines “I followed you into a show, the band was playing rock’n’roll” come from is Roxette by Dr. Feelgood.

What Profession was Wilko Johnson in when he started playing guitar with Dr. Feelgood?

The profession that Wilko Johnson was in when he started playing guitar with Dr. Feelgood was the teaching profession. He was an English teacher at King John’s School in Benfleet Essex.

Who designed Dr. Feelgood’s logo?

Dr. Feelgood’s logo was designed by Wilko Johnson who had discovered his love of art whilst studying for A levels. Painting then became one of his hobbies.

Which Dr. Feelgood song contains the following lines “Everybody needs a shot of R’n’B, so come on down to my surgery”?

The Dr. Feelgood song which contains the lines “Everybody needs a shot of R’n’B, so come on down to my surgery” is “Down At The Doctors”.

What was Dr. Feelgood’s only UK number 1 album called?

Dr. Feelgood’s only UK number 1 album was called “Stupidity” and it was recorded live.

Is it true that Johnny Rotten (AKA John Lydon) was a fan of Dr. Feelgood?

It is true that Johnny Rotten (AKA John Lydon) was a fan of Dr. Feelgood.

What was the name of Dr. Feelgood’s only UK top 10 single?

 The name of Dr. Feelgood’s only UK top 10 single was “Milk And Alcohol”.

What was John Martin’s nickname when he was drummer for Dr. Feelgood?

John Martin’s nickname when he was drummer for Dr. Feelgood was The Big Figure.

What was the name of Dr. Feelgood’s debut album?

Dr. Feelgood’s debut album was called “Down At The Jetty”.

Who Is Dr. Feelgood’s current lead vocalist?

Dr. Feelgood’s current lead vocalist is Robert Kane.

Which Dr. Feelgood song do the following lines come from “I said I’d give her anything, that her little heart desires”?

The lines “I said I’d give her anything, that her little heart desires” come from the Dr. Feelgood song “She Does It Right”.

Is it true that Dr. Feelgood performed on the same bill as Chuck Berry?

It is  true that Dr. Feelgood performed on the same bill as Chuck Berry at the Wembley Rock’n’Roll Festival in 1972.

Which famous band did Wilko Johnson join after leaving Dr. Feelgood?

The famous band which Wilko Johnson joined after leaving Dr. Feelgood was Ian Dury And The Blockheads.

Is it true that Lee Brilleaux once fronted Eddie And The Hot Rods?

 It is not true that Lee Brilleaux once fronted Eddie And The Hot Rods. Even though they all came from Canvey Island, Lee Brilleaux never fronted Eddie and the Hot Rods.

Which Dr. Feelgood song features the following lines “The whole house felt empty, and I was alone, I could hear somebody ringin’, but I couldn’t find my way to the phone”

The Dr. Feelgood song which features the following lines “The whole house felt empty, and I was alone, I could hear somebody ringin’, but I couldn’t find my way to the phone” is “Sneakin’ Suspicion”.

Which Dr. Feelgood album first featured the song Roxette?

The Dr. Feelgood album which first featured the song “Roxette” was “Down By The Jetty”.

Which Dr. Feelgood song contains the lines “I gotta get a move on tryin’ to find a man I know, I got some money in my pocket and looking for a place to go”?

The Dr. Feelgood song that contains the lines “I gotta get a move on tryin’ to find a man I know, I got some money in my pocket and looking for a place to go” is “All Through The City”.

What album was Dr. Feelgood working on when Wilko Johnson left?

The album that Dr. Feelgood was working on when Wilko Johnson left was “Sneakin’ Suspicion”.

Disclosure: We are a professional review site that receives compensation from the companies whose products we review.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *