Following the sad news of Dr Feelgood guitarist and songwriter Wilko Johnson’s passing, we take a look at his life with wife and childhood sweetheart Irene.
The musician, born John Peter Wilkinson, died on Monday, November 21, a statement on his official Twitter confirmed today.
While the cause of death has yet to be revealed, the Dr Feelgood legend notably battled pancreatic cancer and received a terminal diagnosis in 2013.
Following the outpouring of condolences to the musician’s family on social media, some are curious to know more about Johnson’s family life and late wife Irene. Here’s all we know…
Wilko Johnson and late wife Irene were childhood sweethearts
Wilko and Irene first crossed paths in their teens at a local youth club. Reflecting on the moment, the musician previously talked about how he could still picture the moment he first saw her.
The two hit it off after sharing a dance at their school leavers’ party and soon went on their first date.
Reminiscing on their first date to Clash Magazine, Johnson revealed that, on his way to meet Irene, he couldn’t help but sing classic Van Morrison tune Here Comes The Night, a song he later realised was similar to Irene’s surname, Knight.
During their early relationship, Johnson moved to Newcastle to attend university and once told Readers Digest he received a letter from Irene in the form of a proposal. He explained: “I got a letter from my girlfriend, Irene, saying, ‘Can we get married?'”
When the couple tied the knot Johnson was only 19 – but the guitar hero dubbed it the “best decision” of his life.
During their more than three-decade marriage, they welcomed two sons, Matthew and Simon. Irene also worked alongside Wilko as his worldwide booking manager.
Irene passed away in 2004
The musician’s childhood sweetheart sadly died in 2004 following her own battle with cancer.
Looking back on her passing with the Basildon Canvey Southend Echo, Johnson admitted it was hard for him to start writing again. He explained: “I was so upset I couldn’t write for a month – I would open my laptop and just crack up.”
In a separate interview with The Big Issue, Johnson shared he was still in love with Irene as he reflected on their relationship. He said: “I remember that last kiss, and I remember the first kiss, and there were 40 years in between.”
Fans send condolences to Wilko Johnson’s family
Following the news of his passing, tributes to the musician have taken over social media, with others sending their thoughts to his family.
One fan on Twitter wrote: “Sad to hear the passing of Wilko Johnson. A legend, pure and simple. Thoughts to his family, friends and fans all over the world.”
Another tweeted: “One in an absolute million. The great Wilko Johnson. My thoughts are with WJ’s family.”
A third echoed: “Very sad news that Wilko Johnson has died, he was a unique talent. My thoughts are with his family. RIP Wilko.”