Dr. Feelgood is a British R&B band and is often seen as an influential group generally in the punk and rock scene of the 1970s. Hailing from Essex, the group is best known for its top ten hit, Milk and Alcohol. Its early singles, Back in the Night and Roxette are also widely recognised tunes by the band.
According to the band’s website, the founding members were inspired to pursue music after going to a Howlin’ Wolf gig in Ilford. Shortly after, a rag tag Dr. Feelgood was formed to play a series of gigs in Holland. On the return to the British Isles, the lineup which consisted of Wilko Johnson, John B. Sparks, John Martin and iconic frontman, Lee Brilleaux agreed they had something special and they decided to take things seriously.
At the time, the local London music scene was embracing no nonsense pub rock bands and Dr. Feelgood quickly gained a reputation for energetic performances. One journalist at the time described them as “Hiroshima in a pint glass” or something to that effect.
In 1972, they were approached to become the backing band for a reunion R&B concert that consisted of Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Bo Diddly. Two years later, the band secured a deal with United Artists and released Down by the Jetty.
Its breakthrough record came in the form of a live album called Stupidity which skyrocketed to the number one spot on the UK charts. Johnson, the core song writer, decided to leave the band and was replaced by John Mayo. The last real chart success the band experienced was with Milk and Alcohol, a deep and simplistic rock tune.
In the 80s, there were numerous lineup changes and little chart entries but the band continued to be a sought-after live, touring act. In 1994, Brilleaux lost his battle with cancer at the age of 41.
The band wasn’t sure whether to carry on and decided that fans deserved the real Dr. Feelgood rather than the tribute acts that were coming out of the woodwork. They recruited Pete Gage but eventually settled on Robert Kane who did a stint as the front man for the The Animals.
Kane is still with the band and has racked up an impressive 1200+ live performances with the group including the annual concert that takes place in memory of Brilleaux .
A rockumentary type film called Oil City Confidential, which tells the tale of Dr. Feelgood’s early days premiered in October 2009. It received a standing ovation.
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