WILKO JOHNSON, with special guest Aaron Keylock, comes to City Hall, Salisbury, on Thursday 13th October!
“Man, there’s nothing like being told you’re dying to make you feel alive.”
So said Wilko in a recent interview, having been diagnosed in late 2012 with terminal pancreatic cancer. But despite the doctors’ worst predictions he continues to perform and present himself with vigour and a new zest for life. And whether you’re black, white, green, atheist or believer, it’s what you put into life that’s going to get you anything, or nothing, at the end. And into it Wilko is putting his all.
The man from Canvey Island, who studied English at Newcastle University before doing a bit of travelling, could have been a retired teacher by now, sucking on a pipe and whittling away at his pension. But no, Wilko was lured into music by the dark magic spun by his first Telecaster, bought from a music store in Southend, Essex, soon after becoming the strutting, grimacing, six-string rhythmic powerhouse behind Lee Brilleaux in Dr Feelgood.
Feel good? Audiences certainly did in the mid ’70s as Wilko duck-walked his way across countless stages and venues in the UK, with Dr Feelgood in the vanguard of the pub rock movement, performing the gutsy down-to-earth rock and roll that was a welcome antidote to the faltering prog-rock era.
Heavily influenced by legendary guitarist Mick Green from ’60s rockers Johnny Kidd & The Pirates, Wilko employs a finger-style, chop-chord strumming action (the ‘stab’, as he describes it). This allows for chords and lead to be played at the same time, giving a fluency and a distinctive sound very unlike the cleaner swat of a pick.
With this economic sound, coupled with that black-suited, scowling look, and the yards he covered across the stage pausing only to twist the guitar lead out from under his feet, Wilko became one of the guitar heroes of the era. His influence was felt in bands up and down the country, and later in the emergent punk revolution (Joe Strummer of the Clash bought a Tele after seeing Wilko play).
Feelgood had four successful albums in Wilko’s time, then followed a busy creative period playing in an early incarnation of the Wilko Johnson Band, the Solid Senders, before he joined Ian Dury’s band The Blockheads, in 1980.
All through the ’80s, ’90s and into the new millennium he continued to gig in the UK, Europe and Japan. But it was when Julien Temple’s award winning Oil City Confidential came out in 2009, with Wilko emerging as the film’s star, that the world once again sat up and paid attention to his extraordinary talent.
His career took another twist in 2010, when he was offered an acting part in the hit series Game of Thrones, playing the role of mute executioner Ilyn Payne. He appeared in 4 episodes shown in 2011 and 2012, and later explained: “They said they wanted somebody really sinister who went around looking daggers at people before killing them. That made it easy. Looking daggers at people is what I do all the time.”
Wilko will be joined by special guest Aaron Keylock.
To buy tickets call the City Hall Box Office on 01722 434434
Doors – 7.00pm
Tickets – £25.00
For further information on WILKO JOHNSON, check out the following website / social media links: wilkojohnson.com
Facebook – facebook.com/WilkoJohnsonBand
Twitter – twitter.com/wilkojohnson