Wilko Johnson: “I’m alive!”

January 26, 2013 at 4:53 pm (BBC, funny, good people, humanism, Jim D, music, philosophy, Sheer joy, Soul, The blues)

Former Dr Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson is preparing for a short farewell tour in March. This really will be ‘farewell’: he’s been diagnosed with terminal cancer and, having turned down chemo, has less than a year to live. He’s just given this interview to Radio 4’s ‘Front Row’ and if you didn’t hear it when it went out yesterday I must INSIST that you listen, NOW.

It reminds me of Dennis Potter’s incredible 1994 interview conducted by Melvyn Bragg, but might just be even more powerful and moving, with its humour, philosophy and complete lack of self-pity:

“When the doctor told me, I walked out of there and felt an elation…I looked at the trees and sky and thought, ‘wow!’…

“…I’m a feather for each wind that blows. Why didn’t I work that out before? It’s just the moment that matters. Imminent death…makes you feel alive. Every cold breeze against your face, every brick in the road, makes you think ‘I’m alive’…

“…I’m a miserable person but that has all lifted…I’ve had a fantastic life. Anybody that asked for anything more would just be being greedy.”

He also talks a whole lot of sense about music and recording.

Below; Wilko on guitar, with vocalist Lee Brilleaux:


  1. Roger McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

    While I was just a couple of years too young to ‘get’ the Feelgoods in the early-mid seventies I was very belatedly converted by the superb Julien Temple documentary Oil City Confidential when it came out a couple of years ago.

    That film and this interview are an extraordinary memorial.

    And of course it was Lee Brilleaux not Brillo…..

  2. Jim Denham said,

    Thanks for the spelling correction, Roger. I should have checked before posting, but have now corrected.

  3. Mick O said,

    How the decades fly. It doesn’t feel like nearly 20 years since the untimely death of Lee Brilleaux. I saw the Feelgoods on the pub rock scene in the 1970s and a couple of times when they had become well known. Always great gigs. I doubt I will catch any of Wilko’s farewell shows. Probably just as well as I’d be shedding tears. Getting a soft old git.

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