Day 22, No. 22. Wilko Johnson

WilkoHAIRCUT 100: Day 22, No. 22. Wilko Johnson: axe hero, founder member of the legendary Dr. Feelgood, and beloved British eccentric. A bit of a hippy from Canvey Island, Wilko (John Peter Wilkinson) studied English at Newcastle University before travelling overland to India. Back home in 1972, he lasted under a year as an English teacher before putting his faith in his Telecaster and, with frontman Lee Brilleaux, turning the Essex pub rock scene into the Oil City Delta. After a string of iconic albums and a legendary live show, Johnson left the band in 1977, forming The Solid Senders, later joining Ian Dury and The Blockheads, and, finally, settling on The Wilko Johnson Band. In 2013, Wilko was diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer. Given under a year to live, he elected not to receive chemotherapy and instead went on the road, also recording a ‘farewell’ album with Roger Daltrey entitled Going Back Home. Thus far, he has not died, announcing at the Q Awards in 2014 that he was clear after extensive surgery. To find out more about this remarkable man, check out his book Don’t You Leave Me Here: My Life, which was published this year. ‘Man, there’s nothing like being told you’re dying to make you feel alive.’

NB: This post is dedicated my old and very dear friend Christopher Wheeler. A die-hard Feelgood fan, Chris took me to see them at UEA in the 80s when the late Lee Brilleaux was still singing, and we also had a very wild night at the Gala in Norwich when Wilko was in town, grooving to those mad man blues…

 

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