Dr. Feelgood’s Wilco Johnson in his prime

In
Britain, the rock & roll guitarist Wilco Johnson is a national treasure.
For years he laboured with

his magnificent band, the sadly now-defunct Dr. Feelgood,
barely noticed by the general populace, but extremely highly-rated by those in
the know. Only in recent years has Wilco Johnson risen like cream to the top, mainly due
to exposure given by a 2009 film about Dr. Feelgood, called Oil City
Confidential.

Many cite Wilco (real
name John Peter Wilkinson) as one of the driving forces behind the English punk
movement. The Jam’s Paul Weller once said, “Wilko
may not be as famous as some other guitarists, but he’s right up there. And
there are a lot of people who’ll say the same. I can hear Wilko in lots of
places. It’s some legacy.”
Well,
a lot of people heard Wilco Johnson blazing guitar riffs, last night at London’s
Shepherd Bush Empire, including Bob Geldof, Blondie’s Clem Burke, TV’s Top Gear
guys and The Who’s Roger
Left to right: Wilco Johnson, Howe, Daltry, Watt-Roy

Daltry; who, as it happened, was up there on stage singing
in front of Wilco.

Playing
bass was a guy I used to know quite well in the 70s, Norman Watt-Roy, when I
did the press for his band Glencoe, and on drums was Dylan Howe – making a power
trio if ever there was one. Daltry joined them a third of the way through,
along with harmonica player Steve Weston and the former Style Council keyboard
player, Mick Talbot. They punched out songs from a new album Roger Daltry and
Wilco Johnson have put together. Called Going Back Home, it will be released in
the UK in March.
Altogether
the evening was a rousing success, with Daltry saying afterwards, “This has
been good fun, I’ve got to say. We’ve had a bloody good time with this one.”
That’s
the good news. The bad news is that Wilco Johnson, 66, has pancreatic cancer
and should have been dead by last October. Last night’s show was a one off.
Just like Wilco Johnson. 
Here’s a a link to Wilco playing in Paris in 2010 with Norman Watt-Roy and Dylan Howe. It’ll give you just a small taste of what this big-hearted guitar player was all about.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2v2qlX_Urg

Going much further back, here’s a link to Wilco and Dr. Feelgood in their prime, playing a gig in Southend, England, in 1975.Well worth a viewing, if you can put up with the film’s drawn-out opening sequence of Southend pier, supposedly the longest in the world.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzF0AETdRF8 


UPDATE.  WILCO JOHNSON HAS BIGGEST HIT FOR 40 YEARS.
27 March 2014.

Wilco Johnson’s recent collaboration with Roger Daltry, Going Back Home, looks like being his biggest hit record for 40 years, when it’s expect to reach number two in the British album chart this weekend. Johnson, who has refused chemotherapy for terminal pancreatic cancer, last had a number one with his band Dr. Feelgood back in 1976.

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