Lee Brilleaux, the late star of proto-punk reprobates Dr Feelgood, is surely one of British rock’s greatest frontmen, and, posthumously, he has recently been thrust back into the limelight along with his gritty band of R&B sidekicks thanks to the award-winning Julien Temple documentary Oil City Confidential. Twenty years after the untimely death of Brilleaux, this long-awaited book is finally on the horizon.
The Feelgood legacy gave birth to British punk and continues to influence to this day – finally this seminal UK group, who had major chart success and a number one album, is getting the credit they deserve, and the effortlessly cool Lee Brilleaux is again an icon for a new generation.
It’s the perfect time to hear his story, and there’s never been a greater appetite to hear it. With not only the revival of the Feelgoods, but artist Scott King's infamous recent proposal for a huge gold-plated statue of Brilleaux in Southend, a petition to rename Southend Airport ‘Lee Brilleaux airport’ and annual memorial concerts held in his name that are always sold out, many feel it is vital to honour this crucial figure – cited as an influence by everyone from the Sex Pistols to Paul Weller to the Clash to the male members of Blondie – with a no holds-barred biography crammed with many rare and unseen images. It would be the ultimate answer to the popular Wilko Johnson book: Looking Back At Me (also authored by Howe), while remaining a totally different work, and a book that no '70s rock fan would wish to be without.
During the early to mid-70s, an age of glam rock, post-hippy folk and pop androgyny, you couldn’t find a more dangerous, defiantly masculine frontman than Lee Brilleaux, and it was this quality, mingled with a psychotic glower and edge of angsty urban violence, that would inspire would-be punks to man up, cut their hair, burn their flares and form a band. But while this side will be explored in depth, so will the other dimensions of Lee’s complex personality.
Lee Brilleaux is, of course, most famous for being half of one of the greatest rock double acts with guitarist Wilko Johnson, but this book will leave no Brilleaux-related stone unturned, and will reflect the many sides to a man who was, as well as a ‘rock star’, a serious gourmande (often routing Feelgood tours around the best Egon Ronay-starred restaurants); a dry humourist, a bon viveur and a true sartorialist: whether clad in his notoriously filthy white suit onstage or in a creation from one of Soho’s most esteemed tailors. Image was always important, evolving, as his own style did, from sharp-suited angry young man to idiosyncratic English gent.
Brilleaux was a class act and a uniquely charismatic frontman who, at the helm of his electrifying band, changed the face of music and ushered in a revolutionary new era, proving that you didn’t have to be middle-class, wearing the ‘right clothes’ or living in the ‘right place’ to succeed and make music.
This book, which has the blessing of Lee’s widow Shirley, will not only be an eye-opening collection of stories, memories, perspectives and oddities woven into a biographical narrative but also will display an array of classic and unseen images. The author will be making a donation to Fairhavens, the hospice that cared for Brilleaux towards the end of his life.
Above is a picture of the fabulous Scott King limited edition print, included with the Limited Edition Print level, courtesy of Southend's Focal Point Gallery. It pictures a giant Mr Brilleaux presiding over Southend like the Colossus of Essex, and just a small number of these are available.
Taken from Wilko Johnson - Looking Back At Me
As you will see as you dive in, this is no ordinary biography, and nor could it be - Wilko is no ordinary character. We wanted to create a scrap-book-turned-coffee-table-book, colourful, unpredictable and slightly chaotic. The words at times drift into a stream of consciousness, irreverent, surreal and reflective, and this free-form quality was something I was keen to retain and not interfere with. The intention is that you will open it up and instantly feel you are with the man himself on his own territory. This is your portal to Planet Wilko…
All supporters get their name printed in every edition of the book. All levels include the ebook and immediate access to the author's shed.
The ebook, access to the author’s shed & your name in the back
First edition hardback, ebook, access to the author’s shed & your name in the back