Wilko Johnson

The Ecstasy Of Wilko Johnson – Just Wow!

We in the U.K. can be unbelievably scathing of the BBC.  Auntie Beeb is accused of Ageism, political bias and a host of other crimes.

Every now and again something comes along to remind you of the corporations worth.  On Tuesday evening the BBC screened a documentary film titled: The Ecstasy Of Wilko Johnson.

Wilko, as any fan knows, was the guitarist and frontman of 70’s alt-rock band Dr Feelgood and since that band split he has forged a solo career.  Back in 2013 Wilko was diagnosed with an inoperable and aggressive form of pancreatic cancer.

Johnson was given months to live.  Julian Temple, a BBC filmmaker was moved by Wilko’s story and arranged to document Johnson’s journey through cancer.  The film was incredibly moving and beautifully put together.  Wilko’s cancer was dealt with sympathetically but above all what shone through was Johnson’s stoicism.

Johnson explains how, having been handed a death sentence, he had never felt so alive.   As fans will know Wilko went on a farewell tour.  A tour that was supposed to signal the ultimate farewell.  Wilko wanted to get back on the road and mused that “if cancer is going to kill me it’s not going to bore me.”


Believing that his end was near Johnson went into the studio with Roger Daltry and recorded the album  Wilko, Over And Out the album title in itself an indication that Wilko knew that the end was nigh.

The most optimistic life expectations came and went and then something wonderful happened.  A photographer who was also a doctor photographed Wilko at a gig and thought that he looked far too well given his illness and prognosis.  As a result he contacted colleagues at Adenbrooks hospital who eventually concluded that an operation to remove the tumour.  Wilko underwent the surgery and has since made an almost complete recovery.

The BBC have created a wonderful piece of work.  A piece of work that had me close to tears and yet which is incredibly uplifting.  The show is available on the BBC iPlayer for the next four weeks I urge you not to miss it.

Since then I have managed to catch Wilko in concert on three occasions.  Check out my photographs if you want to see images of a man who is relishing every extra second he has been given.  Keep on rocking Wilko Johnson.


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About The Sound of Summer

Hi, I am Alan. I live in Broadstone, Dorset with my wife, Shirley, my son, Ryan and two dogs called Bailey and Jasper. I have recently retired after working in the Armed Forces and in Public Service since 1977 so I now have a bit more time to do the things I love. Music is a huge part of my life and always has been. I have a broad taste in music and can find something to enjoy in most styles of music. I have always been attracted to music which has something to say, is outside the mainstream and is perhaps a bit rebellious. I guess my early influences were late 1970's Punk and new wave bands, especially those who came out of Northern Ireland where I grew up. I loved Stiff Little Fingers, The Undertones, Rudi, Starjets etc but also bands like The Ramones, The Clash, The Jam and so on. I like singer songwriters including Van Morrison, Springsteen, Neil Young & Bob Dylan and in recent years I have become more interested in folk and acoustic music but I also love the sort of high drive energetic Folk/Punk music delivered by bands like The Levellers, Leatherat, Ferocious Dog and many others who frequent the UK Festival scene. I have long since lost the desire to spend my holidays laying around in the sun and these days am much more likely to be found in a muddy field somewhere in the UK during the festival season.

1 thought on “The Ecstasy Of Wilko Johnson – Just Wow!

  1. Pingback: Wilko Johnson – Wickham Photographs | The Sound Of Summer

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