Celebrity Interview: Dr Feelgood

Dr Feelgood. L-R, Robert Kane, Kevin Morris, Phil Mitchell, Steve Walwyn
Dr Feelgood. L-R, Robert Kane, Kevin Morris, Phil Mitchell, Steve Walwyn

The last time rhythm and blues band, Dr Feelgood, played outside at the Northampton Music Festival, the weather was so bad they had to continue their gig inside the town’s Black Bottom Club.

So when they hit the stage for this year’s festival on August 5, in Northampton’s Market Square, band members Robert Kane (vocalist/harmonica), Kevin Morris (drummer), Phil Mitchell (bass guitar) and Steve Walwyn (guitar) will be praying for a much better day.

Kevin said: “We did it last year and the weather was appalling. I’m hoping we will be able to play outside this year. We will be playing a set which features material from the whole history of the group to recent work.

“I have been in the band for 30 years and people have grown up with us and we are very lucky as the sort of music we play appeals to a wide cross section. It is very simple music and it is about the performance on the day. It is good time music, not very cerebral.”

The band has come a long way since it saw its beginnings in Canvey Island, Essex, when teenage friends Lee Collinson (later known as Brilleaux), Chris White (later Fenwick) and John Sparkes decided to form a skiffle band.

Lee and John later continued to play together in a band called The Wild Bunch and when John “Wilko” Wilkinson joined, the name was changed to Dr Feelgood.

The band went from strength to strength, achieving a number one UK album, Stupidity, in the 1970s and even performing alongside Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Bo Diddly in the Wembley Rock ’n Roll Festival of 1972.

Since its foundation, none of the original line-up are still involved with the band, with the last of the first members – Lee Brilleaux – sadly dying of Non Hodgkins Lymphoma in 1994, aged just 41. Together the band made the difficult decision to carry on the Dr Feelgood name after Lee’s death and now keep up a busy schedule of international tour dates across Europe and Japan.

Kevin said: “I was surprised the first time we played in Japan that people were singing all the words to all the songs.”

Kevin and Phil are now the longest-serving members.

Kevin said: “I was in the embryonic version of the band, The Wild Bunch, when I was a teenager and I was the new boy. Now I’m the old boy.

“When Lee died we stopped working for a time as we couldn’t envisage the band without him, but so many people wanted it to continue.

“Some people even say it shouldn’t be called Dr Feelgood as Lee isn’t in it, but there will always be some fanatics, and people can be fanatical. I’m quite happy for us to carry on as long as there are enough people who want us to.

“We have a responsibility to give people what they want.”