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Wilko Johnson at London's Royal Albert Hall - Preview

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by Andy Coleman (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Birmingham. I like Classic Rock, 70s pop music, football and interviewing celebrities. Follow me on Twitter: @andycoleman9
Anniversary celebrations for acclaimed guitarist
Former Dr Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson is looking forward to a very special celebration on September 26, 2017. That's the day Wilko will be in concert at London's Royal Albert Hall to mark the 30th anniversary of the Wilko Johnson Band and, perhaps more importantly, the fact that he reached the age 70 earlier this year.

Wilko Johnson Band, Royal Albert Hall London, Norman Watt-Roy, Dylan Howe, John Cooper Clarke
Celebrating: Wilko Johnson on stage with Norman Watt-Roy and Dylan Howe (pic: Leif Laaksonen)

In 2012 Wilko was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer but despite the doctors' worst predictions he continued to perform and present himself with vigour and a new zest for life. In 2013 he announced that, thanks to a second opinion and subsequent life-saving surgery, he was cancer-free.

He proclaims: ''Man, there's nothing like being told you're dying to make you feel alive!"

Joining Wilko on stage at the Albert Hall will be Wilko Johnson Band colleagues Norman Watt-Roy (bass) and Dylan Howe (drums), while his special guest will be John Cooper Clarke.

Wilko Johnson Band, Royal Albert Hall London, Norman Watt-Roy, Dylan Howe, John Cooper Clarke
The band: Norman Watt-Roy, Wilko Johnson, Dylan Howe (pic: Leif Laaksonen)

Born on Canvey Island, Wilko studied English at Newcastle University before being lured into music by the acquisition of his first Telecaster, bought from a music store in Southend, Essex. He soon became the strutting, grimacing, six-string rhythmic guitarist behind singer Lee Brilleaux in Dr Feelgood.

Throughout the mid-70s, he duck-walked his way across countless UK stages and venues as Dr Feelgood cemented their place in the vanguard of the pub rock movement.

With his economic sound, a 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 punk movement - Joe Strummer of The Clash bought a Telecaster after seeing Wilko play.

Wilko Johnson Band, Royal Albert Hall London, Norman Watt-Roy, Dylan Howe, John Cooper Clarke
Influential: Wilko Johnson (pic: Paul Crowther)

Dr Feelgood released four albums in Wilko's time and when he left the group a busy creative period followed. In 1977 he formed the Solid Senders, before joining Ian Dury & the Blockheads in 1980.

During the next couple of decades he continued to gig in the UK, Europe and Japan but it was when Julien Temple's award winning Oil City Confidential film came out in 2009, with Wilko emerging as the movie's star, that the world once again sat up and paid attention to his 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. He appeared in four episodes, shown in 2011 and 2012. In the same year, Wilko and biographer ZoŽ Howe released the book Wilko Johnson: Looking Back At Me, a coffee-table tome of Wilko's favourite memories and images.

Wilko Johnson Band, Royal Albert Hall London, Norman Watt-Roy, Dylan Howe, John Cooper Clarke
Looking back: Wilko Johnson (pic: Leif Laaksonen)

In 2014 the album Going Back Home, Wilko's collaboration with Roger Daltrey, went to number 3 in the UK album charts. The pair decided to work on the album together not just because they were both huge fans of Johnny Kidd & the Pirates, but because, as Wilko was still believed to be dying from cancer, it was thought they'd 'better get on with it'.

In 2015, Wilko and Julien Temple teamed up again for the documentary The Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson, a film which explored Wilko's diagnosis of terminal cancer and the unexpected reprieve that followed. The film became a hit and was followed by Wilko's memoir, Don't You Leave Me Here, and the album, Keep It To Myself - The Best Of Wilko Johnson.
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Why? A night to celebrate with Wilko Johnson
When: September 26, 2017
Phone: 0844 478 0898
Where: Royal Albert Hall, London
Cost: £53.50 plus fees
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