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Wilko Johnson, Musician and Game of Thrones Actor, Dies at 75

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Wilko Johnson, a singer and guitarist known for his work with the band Dr. Feelgood, as well as a memorable performance as the mute executioner Ser Ilyn Payne on HBO’s Game of Thrones, has passed away at the age of 75. The news was broken in an official statement from Johnson’s Twitter account, which revealed that he passed away at his home on Monday, November 21st. The cause of death is currently unknown at this time. Johnson previously was diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer in 2013, and ultimately was cancer-free in 2014 after he underwent a procedure that removed, in his words “his pancreas, spleen, part of his stomach, small and large intestines and the removal and reconstruction of blood vessels relating to the liver.”

“This is the announcement we never wanted to make, and we do so with a very heavy heart: Wilko Johnson has died,” Johnson’s official Twitter account reads. “He passed away at home on Monday 21st November. Thank you for respecting the family’s privacy at this very sad time. RIP Wilko Johnson.”

Born on July 12, 1947 in Canvey Island, England, Johnson formed the British band Dr. Feelgood alongside Lee Brilleaux and John B. Sparks. The band gained a cult following, with their album “Stupidity” ultimately hitting #1 on the U.K. albums chart. Johnson left the band in 1977, and later played with the Wilko Johnson Band up until his death.

Outside of music, Johnson’s single acting role was as Ser Ilyn Payne, also known as “the King’s Justice” in the first two seasons of Game of Thrones. His character was ordered to kill Ned Stark in one of the show’s earliest shocking plot twists.

“They said they wanted somebody really sinister who went around looking daggers at people before killing them,” Wilko said in a 2011 interview. “That made it easy. Looking daggers at people is what I do all the time, it’s like second nature to me… On the first day, I had to look evilly at this girl. So I sort of boggled at her. Afterwards, the American director came up to me and said ‘Wilko, you don’t have to act scary. You are scary.'”

Johnson is survived by two sons, Matthew and Simon.

Our thoughts are with Johnson’s family, friends, and fans at this time.

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