Tickets are on sale from Monday Jan 20th for Wilko Johnson's gig at The Robin 2, Bilston, on Thursday 7th March. We expect they'll go quickly, as this looks likely to be Wilko Johnson's final tour. Sadly, Wilko has recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the pancreas. He has chosen not to receive any chemotherapy.
In a press statement, Wilko's manager, Robert Hoy, said, "He is currently in good spirits, is not yet suffering any physical effects and can expect to enjoy at least another few months of reasonable health and activity.
He has just set off on a trip to Japan; on his return we plan to complete a new CD, make a short tour of France, then give a series of farewell gigs in the UK. There is also a live DVD in the pipeline, filmed on the last UK tour.
Wilko wishes to offer his sincere thanks for all the support he has had over his long career, from those who have worked with him to, above all, those devoted fans and admirers who have attended his live gigs, bought his recordings and generally made his life such an extraordinarily full and eventful experience."
When rock'n'roll was shaken from its pre-punk complacency by the emergence of Dr. Feelgood, it was guitarist Wilko Johnson who excited most attention - not only for the manic energy of his stage performance (which was to inspire countless imitators and become one of the classic images of rock'n'roll) but also for his guitar style which combined the roles of lead and rhythm guitar in driving riffs and a stuttering machine gun frenzy.
As a songwriter, from early Feelgood favourites like 'Back in the Night' to the power and poetry of 'Dr. Dupree' and 'Sneaking Suspicion' he proved himself one of the best and most original exponents of R&B styles this side of the Atlantic. Check out Dr Feelgood's Old Grey Whistle test appearance from 1975 here:
The list of '70s New Wave bands who acknowledge the influence of Wilko and the Feelgoods is extensive and includes The Clash, The Sex Pistols, The Jam, The Boomtown Rats, and across the Atlantic The Ramones and Blondie (who spent a whole night at a New York party wearing out their specially imported copy of the Feelgood's first album, 'Down by the Jetty').
After his departure from Dr. Feelgood in 1977 Wilko formed his own band, and over the next few years worked with several personnel of varying degrees of musical accomplishment and mixed moral character. In 1980, while continuing to work with his own 3-piece, Wilko entered the ranks of Ian Dury's brilliant Blockheads, co-writing writing several songs with Ian and featuring on the 'Laughter' album, and the brilliant single 'I Wanna Be Straight':
IAN DURY & THE BLOCKHEADS - I WANT TO BE STRAIGHT:
In 1985 the Blockhead's sensational and much loved bassist Norman Watt-Roy joined Wilko as bassist in his trio, and for the last 25 years they've entertained audiences from Helsinki to Madrid, Aberdeen to Istanbul, and Toulouse to Tokyo.
With drummer Dylan Howe (another former Blockhead) the band reached an even greater level of musical mastery and manic brilliance (recognised as Wilko's best band of all time). In 2008 the highly acclaimed film director Julien Temple set out to make a documentary film about the birth and all too brief phenomenon of Dr. Feelgood. 'Oil City Confidential' was premièred in October 2009 to very great critical acclaim and a series of awards. As the eccentric and enigmatic star of the film Wilko has attracted attention in some unexpected places. For instance, for the past two years, Wilko has been starring as the Royal Executioner "Ser Illyn Payne" in HBO's fantasy series Game of Thrones.
Like Ian Dury was, Wilko Johnson is a great English musician, and, like Ian Dury, has made the world a better place by being here and making music. We'll miss him when he's gone.
Wilko and his band will be playing at the Robin 2 in Bilston, on Thursday 7th March. Tickets are available now from the Robin, priced £17.50.
Box Office: 01902 401211
20-28 Mount Pleasant, Bilston,
Wolverhampton, WV14 7LJ