Dr. Feelgood

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Dr. Feelgood
2009-03-26 Dr Feelgood, Spirit of 66, Verviers IMG 7591.jpg
Dr. Feelgood in concert, 2009
Background information
OriginCanvey Island, Essex
GenresPub rock, blues rock, new wave
Years active1971–present
LabelsUnited Artists
Associated actsEddie and the Hot Rods, The Kursaal Flyers, The Count Bishops
Past members
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the band. For other uses, see Dr. Feelgood (disambiguation).
Dr. Feelgood
2009-03-26 Dr Feelgood, Spirit of 66, Verviers IMG 7591.jpg
Dr. Feelgood in concert, 2009
Background information
OriginCanvey Island, Essex
GenresPub rock, blues rock, new wave
Years active1971–present
LabelsUnited Artists
Associated actsEddie and the Hot Rods, The Kursaal Flyers, The Count Bishops
Past members

Dr Feelgood are a British pub rock band formed in 1971. The band's name derives from a slang term for heroin or for a doctor who is willing to overprescribe drugs.[1] It is also a reference to 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.


Early years[edit]

Hailing from Canvey Island, Essex, they are best known for early singles like "Back in the Night" and "Roxette". Although their most commercially productive years were the early to mid-1970s, they continue to tour and record to this day.

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[2] and John Martin, known as "The Big Figure", on drums.

Like many pub rock acts, Dr Feelgood were known primarily for their high energy live performances, although studio albums like Down by the Jetty (1974) 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 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 of 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.

Guitarist Steve Walwyn
in Barcelona, 18 March 2009

Later years[edit]

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 demise, 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 5 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.

Current vocalist Robert Kane
Live in Barcelona 18 March 2009

Every year since Brilleaux's death, a special concert, known as the Lee Brilleaux Birthday Memorial, is held on Canvey Island, where ex and current Feelgoods celebrate the music of Dr Feelgood, and raise money for The Fair Havens Hospice in Westcliff-on-Sea. Fans attend from all over the globe, and the 17th event was held on 7 May 2010. Although still based in the UK, Dr Feelgood continue to play across the world, with concerts in 2010 including, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Switzerland.

Band manager Chris Fenwick also organises an annual walk around Canvey to commemorate Brileaux'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 The Lobster Smack inn, The Monaco Nightclub and The Canvey Club (disguised as 'The Alibi Club' on the sleeve of the album Sneakin' Suspicion). [3]

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.[4] 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.[5] 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".[6] On general release from 1 February 2010, the film has been critically well received, with Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian describing it as “ ..a vivid study of period, music and place”.[7] The film was broadcast on BBC Four in April 2010, September 2010 and on 15 March 2013.

A major exhibition of memorabilia celebrating the band's career ran at The Canvey Club from May 2013, and is scheduled to close in July 2013, having been extended several times.[8]


Current members[edit]

Former members[edit]

Substitute musicians



UK discography[edit]


(Including compilations and retrospectives)

Date of issueTitleLabel & catalogue numberUK Albums Chart placing[16] and notes
January 1975Down by the JettyUnited Artists UAS 29727
Edsel ED160 (1987)
GRAND 05 (1990)
October 1975MalpracticeUnited Artists UAS 29880
GRAND 09 (1990)
No. 17
September 1976StupidityUnited Artists UAS 29990
GRAND 21 (1997)
No. 1
Live album
May 1977Sneakin' SuspicionUnited Artists UAS 30075
GRAND 13 (1991)
No. 10
September 1977Be Seeing YouUnited Artists UAS 30123
Edsel ED238 (1987)
GRAND 14 (1991)
No. 55
First album with Gypie Mayo on guitar
September 1978Private PracticeUnited Artists UAS 30184
GRAND 01 (1988)
No. 41
June 1979As It HappensUnited Artists UAK 30239
GRAND 15 (1995)
No. 42
Live album
September 1979Let It RollUnited 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 1980A Case of the ShakesUnited Artists UAG 30311
Edsel ED189 (1987)
GRAND 10 (1990)
August 1981On the JobLiberty LBG 30328
GRAND 16 (1995)
Live album
November 1981CasebookLiberty LBG 30341Compilation
October 1982Fast Women and Slow HorsesChiswick TOSS 4
GRAND 03 (1989)
Only album release with Johnny Guitar
October 1984Doctor's OrdersDemon FIEND 29
GRAND 06 (1990)
First album with Gordon Russell, P H Mitchell and Kevin Morris
October 1985Mad Man BluesLolita 5042
GRAND 02 (1988)
Originally only available as a French Import. Six tracks issued on a 12" EP NOSE 5
August 1986BrilleauxStiff SEEZ 65
GRAND 04 (1989)
April 1987Case History:
The Best of Dr Feelgood
EMI CDP 7467112Compilation
September 1987ClassicStiff SEEZ 67
GRAND 11 (1990)
May 1989Singles – The UA YearsLiberty EM 1332The early singles
May 1990Live in LondonGRAND 08Live album; First album with Steve Walwyn
March 1991Stupidity Plus (Live 1976–1990)Liberty EM 1388Compilation of live recordings
June 1991PrimoGRAND 12First album with Dave Bronze
July 1993The Feelgood FactorGRAND 17-
April 1994Down at the DoctorsGRAND 18Lee Brilleaux's final live concert.
October 1995Looking BackLiberty ACDFEEL 195Five CD box set in tribute to Brilleaux.
August 1996On the Road AgainGRAND 19First album with Pete Gage, P H Mitchell returns.
Guest appearance by Alan Glen on harmonica
April 1997Twenty Five Years of Dr FeelgoodGRAND 20Compilation
September 1997Centenary Collection:
(The Best Of Dr Feelgood)
EMI 7243 8 59633 2 2Compilation
June 1999Live at the BBC 1974–75GRAND 22-
May 2000Chess MastersGRAND 23First album with Robert Kane
A celebration of the output of the Chess Records label
September 2001BBC Sessions 1973–1978GRAND 24-
September 2001Singled Out:
UA/Liberty As, Bs & Rarities
EMI 534 242 2Triple album CD box set
October 2002Finely TunedGRAND 25Retrospective
November 2002Down at the BBC:
In Concert 1977–78
June 2003Speeding Thru EuropeGRAND 27-
November 2005The Complete Stiff RecordingsGRAND 29Double album
September 2006Repeat PrescriptionGRAND 30Studio album with new renditions of old favourites
June 2013Taking No Prisoners (With Gypie 1977-1981)[17]EMICompilation album and DVD



Date of issueA-sideB-sideLabel and catalogue numberAlbumUK Singles Chart placing[16] and notes
November 1974"Roxette""(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66"United Artists
UP 35760
Down by the Jetty-
March 1975"She Does It Right""I Don't Mind"United Artists
UP 35815
Down by the Jetty-
July 1975"Back in the Night""I'm a Man" (live)United Artists
UP 35857
September 1976"Riot in Cell Block No. 9""Johnny B. Goode"United Artists
StupidityFree inside first 20,000 copies of Stupidity album.
Never released separately.
September 1976"Roxette" (live)"Keep It Out of Sight" (live)United Artists
UP 36171
March 1977"Sneakin' Suspicion""Lights Out"United Artists
UP 36255
Sneakin' SuspicionNo. 47
September 1977"She's a Windup""Hi-Rise"United Artists
UP 36304
Be Seeing YouNo. 34
November 1977"Baby Jane""Looking Back"United Artists
UP 36332
Be Seeing You-
September 1978"Down at the Doctors""Take A Tip"United Artists
UP 36444
Private PracticeNo. 48
January 1979"Milk and Alcohol""Every Kind of Vice"United Artists
UP 36468
Private PracticeNo. 9
April 1979"As Long as the Price Is Right" (live)"Down at the Doctors" (live)United Artists
UP 36506
As It HappensNo. 40
August 1979"Put Him Out of Your Mind""Bend Your Ear"United Artists
BP 306
Let It RollNo. 73
January 1980"Hong Kong Money""Keeka Smeeka"United Artists
BP 338
Let It Roll-
August 1980"No Mo Do Yakamo""Best in the World"United Artists
BP 366
A Case of the Shakes-
November 1980"Jumping from Love to Love""Love Hound"United Artists
BP 374
A Case of the Shakes-
January 1981"Violent Love""A Case of the Shakes"United Artists
BP 386
A Case of the Shakes-
October 1981"Waiting for Saturday Night""Eileen"Liberty
BP 404
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
D 1030
Doctor's Orders-
December 1984"My Way""She's in the Middle"Demon
D 1032
Doctor's Orders-
August 1986"Don't Wait Up""Something Good"Stiff
BUY 253
November 1986"See You Later Alligator""I Love You So You're Mine"Stiff
BUY 255
June 1987"Hunting Shooting Fishing""Big Enough"Stiff
BUY 259
April 1989"Milk and Alcohol (New Recipe)""She's Got Her Eyes on You"EMI
EM 89



You don't have to be a musician to play rock 'n' roll.
You've just got to love it and want to play it.

Lee Brilleaux[20]

People don't talk about an orchestra and say,
'Oh. Are ya still playing that fucking old Beethoven stuff?'
Why should they say the same to us?

Lee Brilleaux (1976)[21]

I don't really know whether I've wasted my life but, probably not

Wilko Johnson (2009)[citation needed]

"Pedals? I'm a guitarist not a cyclist

Wilko Johnson (2013)[22]


  1. ^ "Doctor Feelgood". Segen's Medical Dictionary. 2012. 
  2. ^ a b The spelling is Sparks on all the album credits, but is spelt Sparkes in a few references, and he is also known as "Sparko".
  3. ^ "News | Review: Dr Feelgood Exhibition/Lee Brilleaux Memorial Walk". The Quietus. Retrieved 2013-06-30. 
  4. ^ "OIL CITY CONFIDENTIAL RELEASE". Drfeelgood.org. Retrieved 2011-11-05. 
  5. ^ "Oil City Confidential - The Dr. Feelgood Story". Facebook. Retrieved 2011-11-05. 
  6. ^ "The Dr Feelgood factor - Features - Music". The Independent. 2009-02-13. Retrieved 2013-06-30. 
  7. ^ Peter Bradshaw (4 February 2010). "Oil City Confidential". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2011-11-05. 
  8. ^ "New Dr Feelgood Exhibition Hits Canvey Island « Every record tells a story". Everyrecordtellsastory.com. 2013-06-07. Retrieved 2013-06-30. 
  9. ^ Kevin Morris Biography on Dr Feelgood – The Archive retrieved 18 May 2010
  10. ^ Phil Mitchell Biography on Dr Feelgood – The Archive retrieved 18 May 2010
  11. ^ Steve Walwyn Biography on Dr Feelgood – The Archive retrieved 18 May 2010
  12. ^ Robert Kane Biography on Dr Feelgood – The Archive retrieved 18 May 2010
  13. ^ a b c d Roberts, David (1998). Guinness Rockopedia (1st ed.). London: Guinness Publishing Ltd. p. 128. ISBN 0-85112-072-5. 
  14. ^ a b Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 368. CN 5585. 
  15. ^ Warburg, John. "Early Days – Dr Feelgood". Slimsblues. Retrieved 4 September 2010. 
  16. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 162. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  17. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine (2013-06-25). "Taking No Prisoners (With Gypie 1977-1981) - Dr. Feelgood | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-08-06. 
  18. ^ a b Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. pp. 290–292. ISBN 1-84195-017-3. 
  19. ^ 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. 
  20. ^ Du Noyer, Paul (2003). Music; From Rock, Pop, Jazz, Blues and Hip Hop to Classical, Folk and World (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 86. ISBN 1-904041-96-5. 
  21. ^ Brilleaux, Lee "Dr Feelgood – The Archive" Retrieved 3 November 2008
  22. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - Mastertapes, Series 2, Wilko Johnson (the A-side)". Bbc.co.uk. 2013-05-27. Retrieved 2013-06-30. 

External links[edit]