Choppy, wild and still going out on the road

Dr Feelgood
Dr Feelgood
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Dr Feelgood have undergone many changes over the years. The band’s line-up has evolved like the cast of a soap opera. It kicked off with Wilko Johnson and Lee Brilleaux and now the band has a different set of members altogether.

But one thing has remained constant - the band’s steady, visceral rhythm and blues.

Indeed, it was Dr Feelgood’s raucous rhythm section that initially caught the imagination of the band’s fellow south eastern music lovers in 1971 and soon the band was wooing ears nationwide with albums like Down By the Jetty.

Defined in part by Wilko Johnson’s choppy guitar style, Dr Feelgood became known for their ‘pub rock’ - steady, rocky blues. And such was the appeal of Dr Feelgood that the band’s fan-base has, over the years, name-checked the likes of Bill Drummond, Paul Weller, Bob Geldof and even Joe Strummer.

Now the band come to Rotherham Civic Centre as part of a full UK tour of their back-catalogue of hits.

But while it may be more than 40 years since the band first formed, their pull is as strong as ever - a phenomenon that owes much to the band’s lively on-stage performances and no-frills rock and roll.

It seems unlikely then, that this wild act should come out of one of England’s south east industrial heartlands, Canvey Island. But it was here that teenagers Lee Collinson, Chris White and John Sparkes formed a skiffle band, playing outside pubs and clubs.

But they weren’t a skiffle band for very long. White and Collinson went to a Howlin’ Wolf gig and it was this that would define the future of Dr Feelgood. Collinson started learning how to play harmonica and the the trio named themselves The Wild Bunch, which then became the Pigboy Charlie Band.

Soon - following a chance meeting with Collinson and White - Wilko Johnson would join the band. Dr Feelgood became their new moniker, named after a blues standard which was covered by Johnny Kidd and the Pirates.

The band quickly gained notoriety. NME journalist Shaar Murray likened the band’s live performances to ‘Hiroshima in a pint mug.’ By 1974, Dr Feelgood were snapped up United Artists, home to contemporaries Hawkwind.

The album Down the Jetty was released that year. It became one of the 1970s’ classic albums and defined the band’s career.

The current Dr Feelgood - which includes Kevin Morris, Phil Mitchell, Gordon Russell and Robert Kane - is still going strong.

Dr Feelgood may be well into their forties, but they are still rocking the jetty.

Dr Feelgood play at Rotherham Civic Arts Centre this Saturday, May 4.