UPDATE: 9th January 2013
Wilko’s manager, Robert Hoy, issued a statement: "I am very sad to announce that Wilko has recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the pancreas. He has chosen not to receive any chemotherapy. 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. Thank you."
To celebrate the great man, we look back at a recent interview with VLR…
Canvey Island pub rock guitar legend Wilko Johnson discusses his new autobiography ‘Looking Back At Me’ with VLR’s Dave Collins.
Does the book capture the essence of all that is Wilko?
“You can’t say that about yourself, can you? It’s like ‘look at yourself in a mirror and tell me what you see’ – it’s impossible isn’t it? It tells some stories, says a lot about me and we’re all pleased by the way it’s come out.”
There are a few revelations in the book: drugs, drink, violence – have your kids read it?
“My kids are huge blokes now – I don’t know if they’ve even read it.”
And Bowie was after you for his band?
“I could tell you many stories – the Rolling Stones wanted me, but you don’t talk about things like that, do you? As I remember it, he (Bowie) was putting a band together in America and the guy that was going to be the keyboard player, Bowie asked him to bring a copy of the Feelgoods’ first album to check out. But I wasn’t slightly interested anyway. I mean, who would you rather be with Dr. Feelgood or David Bowie? Wouldn’t you rather be singing about girls than frocks and going to Mars? But let’s not knock David!”
Your career’s been on the upswing over the last couple of years with ‘Oil City’, ‘Game of Thrones’, music festivals, the book and media interest.
“When Julien Temple wanted to do the film (‘Oil City Confidential’), a little while before that I’d been thinking, ‘I’ve done a lot of gigs, I think I’ll quit and do something else now’. Then the film happened, it went really well and doing that got me going again and got me a lot more work. And I thought, ‘I can’t quit now I’ve got all this bloody work’, and so it goes on.”
Are you enjoying the heat and attention though?
“(Laughs) I am a miserable old so ‘n’ so all the time, so I’m better off doing it than not doing it. Otherwise I’d be really, really, really miserable! (laughs)”
‘Looking Back At Me’ book is out now on Cadiz.
READ THE REST OF THE INTERVIEW WITH WILKO JOHNSON AND A REVIEW OF ‘STARING BACK AT ME’ IN THE ISSUE 8 OF VIVE LE ROCK, OUT NOW. ORDER YOUR COPY HERE.
WILKO JOHNSON DISCOGRAPHY
Down by the Jetty (1975)
Sneakin’ Suspicion (1977)
Solid Senders (1978)
The Wilko Johnson Band
Ice on the Motorway (1981)
Bottle Up and Go (1983)
Pull the Cover (1984)
Watch Out! (Live in London) (1985)
Call It What You Want (1987)
Barbed Wire Blues (1988)
Going Back Home (1998)
Don’t Let Your Daddy Know (Live in Japan) (2000)
Red Hot Rocking Blues (2005)
Ian Dury & The Blockheads