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LONDON (AP) — Wilko Johnson, the guitarist with British blues-rock band Dr. Feelgood who had an unexpected career renaissance after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, has died. He was 75.

Wilko Johnson at his home in West Cliff on Sea, England, Jan. 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, file) 

A statement posted Wednesday on Johnson’s official social media accounts on behalf of his family said the musician died Monday evening at his home in southeast England.

Born John Wilkinson in 1947, Johnson was raised on Canvey Island, a marshy industrial town at the mouth of the River Thames. He studied Anglo-Saxon literature at Newcastle University and worked as a schoolteacher before forming Dr. Feelgood with other local friends.

At a time of flamboyant glam and indulgent prog rock, they played a then-unfashionable brand of blues and R&B, dressed in cheap suits that made them look, Johnson said later, like “shoddy bank robbers.”

Johnson helped give Dr. Feelgood a dangerous edge with his choppy, relentless guitar style and thousand-yard glare — a look terrifying enough to earn him a role later in life as silent executioner Ser Ilyn Payne on “Game of Thrones.”

The anarchic outfit inspired bands who would soon drive the U.K. punk explosion, and teetered on the edge of global fame, scoring a U.K. No. 1 album, tours of the U.S. and a deal with CBS records. Then in 1977 Johnson walked out amid friction with charismatic lead singer Lee Brilleaux, who died in 1994.

Johnson later said that if the band had been able to follow its managers’ instructions to behave, “I’m pretty sure we’d be multimillionaires. But we didn’t. We were geezers from Canvey Island. We were great friends, and we fell out.”

Johnson went on to perform with Ian Dury’s band the Blockheads, and spent years playing to a devoted fanbase, largely in the U.K. and Japan.

In 2012, Johnson was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was told it was terminal. The prospect of death unexpectedly revived his creative energies. He declined chemotherapy, decided to go on one last tour, and recorded a “final” album, “Going Back Home,” with Roger Daltrey of The Who.

“I suddenly found myself in a position where nothing matters anymore,” he told the Associated Press in 2013. “I’m a miserable so-and-so normally. … I’d be worrying about the taxman or all the things that we worry about that get in the way of the real things. And suddenly it doesn’t matter. All of that doesn’t matter.

“You walk down the street and you feel intensely alive. You’re `Oh, look at that leaf!’ You’re looking around and you think, `I’m alive. Ain’t it amazing?'”

In another twist, a fan who was also a cancer specialist offered to help. After surgery to remove a 6½-pound tumor, Johnson announced in 2014 he was cancer-free. He released another album, “Blow Your Mind,” in 2018, and played gigs with his Wilko Johnson Band until last month.

Daltrey paid tribute to “the uncompromising Bard of Canvey.”

“More than anything Wilko wanted to be a poet,” he said. “I was lucky to have known him and have him as a friend. His music lives on but there’s no escaping the final curtain this time.”

Johnson is survived by his sons Simon and Matthew and grandson Dylan.
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Val Chmerkovskiy Says Doing DWTS With His Wife Has Been Tough

Getty Images Val Chmerkovskiy opens up about "tough" times on DWTS.

Val Chmerkovskiy and Jenna Johnson have been doing “Dancing With the Stars” together for several years. The two met on the show back in 2014 and ended up dating. After a few years, they got engaged.

“My life has changed because of [her],” Chmerkovskiy told People magazine in 2018. “And I find myself to be the best version of myself that I’ve ever been. She’s awesome,” he added.

Over the years, Chmerkovskiy and Johnson have been dancing together and competing against each other on DWTS, which hasn’t always been easy.

“It’s tough. I mean, I did the show for a long time, so all those seasons I was single, it wasn’t a problem at all,” he said on the November 18, 2022, episode of the “Chicks in the Office” podcast.

“My wife now is pregnant. We’re about to have a child in January. I mean, it’s been an incredible time for me in my life. It’s been a few tough years,” he continued.

Here’s what you need to know:

Chmerkovskiy Shared How He & Johnson Handle the Pressures of Both of Them Working on DWTS View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Val (@valentin)

Chmerkovskiy and Johnson know what it’s like to compete on the television show and have sort of figured out a way to make things work when they are both super busy with their respective partners season over season.

“It’s a conversation. I’m also married to another pro that’s on the show. So, I think it’s weird because…it isn’t one person missing someone else. It’s both people really busy with the same pressure bringing it home and not really having each other to even, like, you know, unpack to, right? But we do because we only have each other, right? So we unpack each other’s stuff to each other,” Chmerkovskiy said on “Chicks in the Office.”

“So she comes in talking about her partner, I come in talking about my pressure, my stress. And we’re there for each other but it took some years to also figure out,” he added.

Overall, however, things work between them.

“I have a lot of confidence and joys because I have a great partner,” Chmerkovskiy said.

Johnson Took Season 31 Off Because of Her Pregnancy View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Val (@valentin)

After Johnson found out that she was pregnant with her first child, she decided not to compete on season 31 of “Dancing With the Stars.”

“We got home and about two weeks later I was like, ‘Wait a minute, my boobs are feeling very big and very sore. I haven’t started my period yet.’ So I peed on a stick and immediately it just turned positive. The shock and just disbelief was insane. I couldn’t believe it because it it wasn’t an easy journey for us to get pregnant,” Johnson told People magazine when announcing her pregnancy.

Meanwhile, Chmerkovskiy did compete on season 31 alongside Gabby Windey — and the two made it to the finals. Johnson was often in the ballroom cheering on her husband — and the rest of her friends. At times, she even stopped by rehearsal, offering Windey some tips from a different perspective.

No word on whether or not Johnson will compete on season 32.

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