Lee Brilleaux

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Lee Brilleaux
Lee Brilleaux image.jpg
Background information
Birth nameLee John Collinson
Born(1952-05-10)10 May 1952
Durban, South Africa
Died7 April 1994(1994-04-07) (aged 41)
Canvey Island, Essex, England
GenresRock, pub rock, R&B
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter, musician
Instrument(s)Vocals, guitar, harmonica
Years active1970–1994
LabelsStiff Records

Lee Brilleaux (born Lee John Collinson; 10 May 1952 – 7 April 1994)[1] was an English rhythm-and-blues singer and musician with the band Dr. Feelgood.

Early life[edit]

Lee Brilleaux was born in Durban, South Africa, to English parents,[2] was brought up in Ealing, and moved to Canvey Island with his family when he was 13.[3]


Brilleaux co-founded Dr. Feelgood with Wilko Johnson in 1971 and was the band's lead singer, harmonica player, and occasional guitarist. According to one obituary: "Brilleaux and Johnson developed a frantic act, often charismatically dressed in dark suits and loose ties, shabby rather than smart. The rough, and almost ruthless, edge which ran through his vocal and harmonica style reflected the character and philosophy of the band."[3] In 1976, Brilleaux helped found Stiff Records, one of the driving forces of the "New Wave" of the mid- to late-1970s, with a loan of £500.[3] Johnson left Dr. Feelgood in 1977 but Brilleaux continued the band with Gypie Mayo on guitar in 1978. By 1984 he was the only founder member remaining. In 1986, he recorded the album Brilleaux, featuring songs by Johnny Cash. His last performance was in January 1994, at the Dr. Feelgood Music Bar in Canvey Island.[3]


Brilleaux died on 7 April 1994 of lymphoma, a month before his 42nd birthday, in his home in Canvey Island.[4]


After a one-year hiatus Dr. Feelgood appointed Pete Gage as their new vocalist.

In 2011, contemporary artist and Dr. Feelgood fan Scott King announced his intention to commemorate Lee Brilleaux by erecting a 300-foot gold-plated statue of the musician on the foreshore in Southend-on-Sea close to the legendary Kursaal where the band played some of their most important gigs. An e-petition was launched to collect signatures in support of the project, and it now has approximately 1500 signatures.[5]

In 2014, music writer Zoë Howe announced her intention to write Roadrunner, a biography based on Brilleaux's life, including a collection of his life stories and memories, with classic and unseen images. The book reached 100% crowd-funding via Unbound on 18 May 2014. Howe is also the co-author of Looking Back at Me, an autobiography of Wilko Johnson, the original guitarist with Dr. Feelgood.[6] The book was published, by Polygon, as Lee Brilleaux: Rock'n'Roll Gentleman.[7][8]


  1. ^ Roberts, David (1998). Guinness Rockopedia (1st ed.). London: Guinness Publishing Ltd. p. 128. ISBN 0-85112-072-5.
  2. ^ "Joan's Feelgood memories of her son Lee". Echo. 22 November 2010. Retrieved 5 July 2013
  3. ^ a b c d Staig, Laurence. "Obituary: Lee Brilleaux". The Independent. 9 April 1994. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  4. ^ https://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/obituary-lee-brilleaux-1368879.html?amp
  5. ^ "Focal Point Gallery e-petition for a memorial statue of Lee Brilleaux in Southend-on-Sea". Focalpoint.org.uk. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  6. ^ "Crowdfund a book: Unbound". Unbound.co.uk. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  7. ^ "Lee Brilleaux: Rock'n'Roll Gentleman :: Popular Music & Culture :: Birlinn Ltd". Archived from the original on 23 May 2016. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  8. ^ Howe, Zoe (3 November 2015). Lee Brilleaux: Rock'n'roll Gentleman. Polygon. ASIN 184697335X.

External links[edit]