Sunday 17th March 2013 sees the highly anticipated release of the official Wilko Johnson
“The Last Tour” poster. Designed by 2013 Acker Award winner Chuck Sperry, the poster
is strictly limited to 325 only. Printed four colours on archival cream paper, hand signed
and numbered by the artist. Measurements: 22x32”.
The interest in this print has been phenomenal. Please do get in touch HERE to order your
copy as soon as possible.
Read Wilko’s inspiring story below:
Cult musician Wilko Johnson “so alive” as death approaches
By Jeremy Gaunt
Wilko Johnson, cult guitarist from 1970s beat band Dr Feelgood and herald of English
punk rock, is on a high – even though he is dying of pancreatic cancer.
The musician, songwriter and sometime actor has watched with amazement as a
planned tour of farewell concerts sold out and interest has surged in almost anything he
has touched, including the 2009 award-winning documentary “Oil City Confidential.”
One British newspaper has even affectionately dubbed him the country’s latest “national
treasure”.“Why didn’t we think of this 20 years ago?” Johnson told Reuters, at home a
few miles from his Canvey Island birthplace, near where the Thames estuary opens into
the English Channel.
It is the kind of joke, accompanied by a devilish laugh,that makes death far easier to talk
about than expected.
Johnson, 65, will happily tell you that learning last month that the end of his life is
probably less than a year away has not all been negative, with an almost “euphoric”
feeling keeping some of his darker traits seem totally in check.
“It makes you feel so alive,” he said. “Just walking down the street, man, everything
looks really intense. Any little thing you look at, it almost gives you a kind of childlike
“I’m a miserable so-and-so. I suffer from depression and everything … but all that stuff
whatever it was I used to worry about – it doesn’t matter. What’s gone, what is and what
will be, do not matter.”
What he fears is not death but getting sick. The concerts lined up for February and
March depend on his health.
“I’m not going on stage sick. I’m not going to have someone pushing me around in a
wheelchair. They’d have to push fast,” said Johnson, whose stage presence is frenetic.
Johnson’s initial heyday was in the early 1970s when Dr Feelgood was bashing out
driving R&B rock in pubs and clubs while others such as Pink Floyd and David Bowie
grabbed the headlines with prog and glitter.
It was a precursor of the punk music that would soon sweep across Britain’s music
With a distinctly geeky pudding-bowl haircut and a manic stare, Johnson became
renowned for strutting like a musical automaton in front of lead singer Lee Brilleaux, who
died in 1994, also of cancer.
Johnson’s guitar style added to the aura. A left-hander who plays right-handed, he
employs an unusual picking and strumming style that allows him to master a staccato
lead and rhythm at the same time.
“When I was a schoolboy and I started learning to play, I learnt left-handed. Well, I was
rubbish. Everybody at school played better than me,” he said.
He solved the problem by switching to right-hand guitar and learning all over again. The
result can be mesmerizing.
“It is done with choppy chords and chopping off chords short and in doing so you can
make percussive patterns with it.”
Johnson, who is almost always just called Wilko (his name at birth was John Wilkinson),
moved on from Dr Feelgood to spend some time with the Ian Dury & The Blockheads
and form the Wilko Johnson Band which released its last album in 2005.
His eccentricity pretty much stole the limelight in “Oil City Confidential”, a documentary
about Dr Feelgood and the petrochemical hub that is Canvey Island.
It turned out not to be his only foray into film. Sometime after – and as a result of his
manic performance in “Oil City”, he believes – he was cast in television’s “Game of
Thrones”, playing executioner Ser Ilyn Payne who had his tongue ripped out.
“Basically, all I had to do was go around giving people menacing looks. I can do that,” he
But it is the music for which Johnson will be remembered with his passion passed on to
his son, Simon, who plays guitar in a band called Eight Rounds Rapid.
“Nothing like me,” Johnson said. “He taught himself. Well, you don’t listen to your dad,
“I haven’t any botherations about death. So far, so good. Happy.”