Dr. Feelgood performing in 2009
|Origin||Canvey Island, Essex, England|
Dr. Feelgood are an English pub rock band formed in 1971. Hailing from Canvey Island, Essex, the group are best known for early singles such as "She Does It Right", "Roxette", "Back in the Night" and "Milk and Alcohol". The group's original distinctively British R&B sound was centred on Wilko Johnson's choppy guitar style. Along with Johnson, the original band line-up included singer Lee Brilleaux and the rhythm section of John B. Sparks, known as "Sparko", on bass guitar and John Martin, known as "The Big Figure", on drums. Although their most commercially productive years were the early to mid-1970s, and in spite of Brilleaux's death in 1994 of lymphoma, a version of the band (featuring none of the original members) continues to tour and record to this day.
The band was formed in Canvey Island in 1971 by Johnson, Brilleaux and Sparks, who had all been members of existing R&B bands, and soon added drummer John Martin. They took their name from a 1962 record by the American blues pianist and singer Willie Perryman (also known as "Piano Red") called "Dr. Feel-Good", which Perryman recorded under the name of Dr. Feelgood & The Interns. The song was covered by several British beat groups in the 1960s, including Johnny Kidd & The Pirates. The term is also a slang term for heroin or for a doctor who is willing to overprescribe drugs.
By late 1973, the band's driving R&B had made them one of the most popular bands on the growing London pub rock circuit, and they recorded their debut album, Down by the Jetty, for United Artists in 1974. Like many pub rock acts, Dr. Feelgood were known primarily for their high energy live performances honed through constant touring and regular performances, although their studio albums like Down by the Jetty and Malpractice (1975) were also popular.
Their breakthrough 1976 live album, Stupidity, reached number one in the UK Albums Chart (their only chart-topper). But after the 1977 follow-up Sneakin' Suspicion, Johnson left the group because of conflicts with Lee Brilleaux. He was replaced by John 'Gypie' Mayo. With Mayo, the band was never as popular as with Johnson but still enjoyed their only Top Ten hit single in 1979, with "Milk and Alcohol". Johnson never achieved any great success outside the band, apart from a brief spell with Ian Dury and The Blockheads from 1980. Fans always speculated about a return by Johnson that never occurred.
Despite Mayo's departure in 1981, and various subsequent line-up changes which left Brilleaux the only remaining original member, Dr. Feelgood continued touring and recording through the 1980s. However, the band then suffered an almost career-finishing blow when Brilleaux died of cancer on 7 April 1994.
As Brilleaux had insisted prior to his death, Dr. Feelgood reunited in May 1995, initially with vocalist Pete Gage (not to be confused with guitarist Pete Gage of Geno Washington and Vinegar Joe), and recommenced touring in 1996. Though the band contained no original members at this point, the musicians backing Gage had all previously played as members of Dr. Feelgood for at least five years, and in some cases for over a decade. In 1999 Gage was replaced by Robert Kane, formerly of The Animals II and The Alligators, who celebrated his 1,000th gig as the frontman of Dr. Feelgood in April 2007.
Every year since Brilleaux's death, a special concert known as the Lee Brilleaux Birthday Memorial has been held on Canvey Island, where former and current Feelgoods have celebrated the music of Dr. Feelgood, and raised money for The Fair Havens Hospice in Westcliff-on-Sea. Fans attended from all over the globe, and the 20th and final event was held on 9 May 2014. Still based in the UK, Dr. Feelgood continue to play across the world, with concerts in 2010 in Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Switzerland.
Band manager Chris Fenwick organises an annual walk around Canvey to commemorate Brilleaux's life, as well as additional walking tours during which he points out landmarks from the band's career. These include the jetty featured in the photograph on the band's first album cover, and venues where they played early in their career, such as The Lobster Smack inn, The Monico Nightclub and The Canvey Club (disguised as 'The Alibi Club' on the sleeve of the album Sneakin' Suspicion).
A film by Julien Temple about the early days of the band, Oil City Confidential, premiered at the London Film Festival on 22 October 2009, and received a standing ovation. Guest of honour was Lee Brilleaux's mother Joan Collinson, along with his widow Shirley and children Kelly and Nick. All the surviving members of the original band were present along with manager Chris Fenwick, former tour manager and Stiff Records boss Jake Riviera and other friends and colleagues of the band. The film has its own Facebook page. Reviewing the film for The Independent, Nick Hasted concluded: "Feelgood are remembered in rock history, if at all, as John the Baptists to punk's messiahs". On general release from 1 February 2010, the film was critically well received, with Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian describing it as "...a vivid study of period, music and place". The film was first broadcast on BBC Four in April 2010.
A major exhibition of memorabilia celebrating the band's career ran at The Canvey Club between May and July 2013, having been extended several times.
- Phil H. Mitchell – bass, acoustic guitar, backing vocals (1983–1991, 1995–present)
- Kevin Morris – drums, percussion, backing vocals (1983–1994, 1995–present)
- Steve Walwyn – lead and slide guitars, backing vocals (1989–1994, 1995–present)
- Robert Kane – lead vocals, harmonica (1999–present)
(Including compilations and retrospectives)
|Date of issue||Title||Label & catalogue number||UK Albums Chart placing and notes|
|January 1975||Down by the Jetty||United Artists UAS 29727
Edsel ED160 (1987)
GRAND 05 (1990)
|October 1975||Malpractice||United Artists UAS 29880
GRAND 09 (1990)
|September 1976||Stupidity||United Artists UAS 29990
GRAND 21 (1997)
|May 1977||Sneakin' Suspicion||United Artists UAS 30075
GRAND 13 (1991)
|September 1977||Be Seeing You||United Artists UAS 30123
Edsel ED238 (1987)
GRAND 14 (1991)
First album with Gypie Mayo on guitar
|September 1978||Private Practice||United Artists UAS 30184
GRAND 01 (1988)
|June 1979||As It Happens||United Artists UAK 30239
GRAND 15 (1995)
|September 1979||Let It Roll||United Artists UAG 30269
GRAND 07 (1989)
|Guest appearances by Steve Gregory on tenor and alto sax; 'Shotgun' Roy Davies on organ plus Mike Deacon and Geraint Watkins on piano|
|September 1980||A Case of the Shakes||United Artists UAG 30311
Edsel ED189 (1987)
GRAND 10 (1990)
|August 1981||On the Job||Liberty LBG 30328
GRAND 16 (1995)
|November 1981||Casebook||Liberty LBG 30341||Compilation|
|October 1982||Fast Women and Slow Horses||Chiswick TOSS 4
GRAND 03 (1989)
|Only album release with Johnny Guitar|
|October 1984||Doctor's Orders||Demon FIEND 29
GRAND 06 (1990)
|First album with Gordon Russell, P H Mitchell and Kevin Morris|
|October 1985||Mad Man Blues||Lolita 5042
GRAND 02 (1988)
|Originally only available as a French Import. Six tracks issued on a 12" EP NOSE 5|
|August 1986||Brilleaux||Stiff SEEZ 65
GRAND 04 (1989)
|April 1987||Case History:
The Best of Dr Feelgood
|EMI CDP 7467112||Compilation|
|September 1987||Classic||Stiff SEEZ 67
GRAND 11 (1990)
|May 1989||Singles – The UA Years||Liberty EM 1332||The early singles|
|May 1990||Live in London||GRAND 08||Live album; First album with Steve Walwyn|
|March 1991||Stupidity Plus (Live 1976–1990)||Liberty EM 1388||Compilation of live recordings|
|June 1991||Primo||GRAND 12||First album with Dave Bronze|
|July 1993||The Feelgood Factor||GRAND 17||-|
|April 1994||Down at the Doctors||GRAND 18||Lee Brilleaux's final live concert.|
|October 1995||Looking Back||Liberty ACDFEEL 195||Five CD box set in tribute to Brilleaux.|
|August 1996||On the Road Again||GRAND 19||First album with Pete Gage, P H Mitchell returns.|
Guest appearance by Alan Glen on harmonica
|April 1997||Twenty Five Years of Dr Feelgood||GRAND 20||Compilation|
|September 1997||Centenary Collection:
(The Best of Dr Feelgood)
|EMI 7243 8 59633 2 2||Compilation|
|June 1999||Live at the BBC 1974–75||GRAND 22||-|
|May 2000||Chess Masters||GRAND 23||First album with Robert Kane|
A celebration of the output of the Chess Records label
|September 2001||BBC Sessions 1973–1978||GRAND 24||-|
|September 2001||Singled Out:
UA/Liberty As, Bs & Rarities
|EMI 534 242 2||Triple album CD box set|
|October 2002||Finely Tuned||GRAND 25||Retrospective|
|November 2002||Down at the BBC:
In Concert 1977–78
|June 2003||Speeding Thru Europe||GRAND 27||-|
|November 2005||The Complete Stiff Recordings||GRAND 29||Double album|
|September 2006||Repeat Prescription||GRAND 30||Studio album with new renditions of old favourites|
|April 2013||All Through The City (With Wilko 1974-1977)||Parlophone||3 CD Compilation album and DVD|
|June 2013||Taking No Prisoners (With Gypie 1977–1981)||EMI||Compilation album and DVD|
|Date of issue||A-side||B-side||Label and catalogue number||Album||UK Singles Chart placing and notes|
|November 1974||"Roxette"||"(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66"||United Artists
|Down by the Jetty||-|
|March 1975||"She Does It Right"||"I Don't Mind"||United Artists
|Down by the Jetty||-|
|July 1975||"Back in the Night"||"I'm a Man" (live)||United Artists
|September 1976||"Riot in Cell Block No. 9"||"Johnny B. Goode"||United Artists
|Stupidity||Free inside first 20,000 copies of Stupidity album.|
Never released separately.
|September 1976||"Roxette" (live)||"Keep It Out of Sight" (live)||United Artists
|March 1977||"Sneakin' Suspicion"||"Lights Out"||United Artists
|Sneakin' Suspicion||No. 47|
|September 1977||"She's a Windup"||"Hi-Rise"||United Artists
|Be Seeing You||No. 34|
|November 1977||"Baby Jane"||"Looking Back"||United Artists
|Be Seeing You||-|
|September 1978||"Down at the Doctors"||"Take A Tip"||United Artists
|Private Practice||No. 48|
|January 1979||"Milk and Alcohol"||"Every Kind of Vice"||United Artists
|Private Practice||No. 9|
|April 1979||"As Long as the Price Is Right" (live)||"Down at the Doctors" (live)||United Artists
|As It Happens||No. 40|
|August 1979||"Put Him Out of Your Mind"||"Bend Your Ear"||United Artists
|Let It Roll||No. 73|
|January 1980||"Hong Kong Money"||"Keeka Smeeka"||United Artists
|Let It Roll||-|
|August 1980||"No Mo Do Yakamo"||"Best in the World"||United Artists
|A Case of the Shakes||-|
|November 1980||"Jumping from Love to Love"||"Love Hound"||United Artists
|A Case of the Shakes||-|
|January 1981||"Violent Love"||"A Case of the Shakes"||United Artists
|A Case of the Shakes||-|
|October 1981||"Waiting for Saturday Night"||"Eileen"||Liberty
|September 1982||"Trying to Live My Life Without You"||"Murder in the First Degree"||Chiswick
|Fast Women and Slow Horses||-|
|March 1983||"Crazy About Girls"||"Something Out of Nothing"||Chiswick
|September 1984||"Dangerous"||"Can't Find the Lady"||Demon
|December 1984||"My Way"||"She's in the Middle"||Demon
|August 1986||"Don't Wait Up"||"Something Good"||Stiff
|November 1986||"See You Later Alligator"||"I Love You So You're Mine"||Stiff
|June 1987||"Hunting Shooting Fishing"||"Big Enough"||Stiff
|April 1989||"Milk and Alcohol (New Recipe)"||"She's Got Her Eyes on You"||EMI
- The spelling is Sparks on all the album credits, but is spelt Sparkes in a few references, and he is also known as "Sparko".
- "Doctor Feelgood". Segen's Medical Dictionary. 2012.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Dr. Feelgood | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
- "News | Review: Dr Feelgood Exhibition/Lee Brilleaux Memorial Walk". The Quietus. Retrieved 30 June 2013.
- "Oil City Confidential release". Drfeelgood.org. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
- "Oil City Confidential - The Dr. Feelgood Story". Facebook. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
- "The Dr. Feelgood factor - Features - Music". The Independent. 13 February 2009. Retrieved 30 June 2013.
- Peter Bradshaw (4 February 2010). "Oil City Confidential". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
- "New Dr. Feelgood Exhibition Hits Canvey Island « Every record tells a story". Everyrecordtellsastory.com. 7 June 2013. Retrieved 30 June 2013.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 162. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine (25 June 2013). "Taking No Prisoners (With Gypie 1977–1981) - Dr. Feelgood | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
- Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. pp. 290–292. ISBN 1-84195-017-3.
- Moon, Tony (2002). Down by the Jetty – The Dr Feelgood Story (2nd ed.). Borden, Hants: Northdown Publishing Ltd. pp. 122–123. ISBN 1-900711-15-X.
- Jost, Roland; Nättilä, Teppo, Mäkinen, Rauno – From Roxette To Ramona, Dr Feelgood And Wilko Johnson on Record – ISBN 3-033-00460-1
- Down by the Jetty – The Dr Feelgood Story by Tony Moon – Northdown Publishing 1997 (Rev 2002) – ISBN 1-900711-15-X