R&B legend Wilko Johnson heads to Cardiff’s Tramshed this Saturday (April 15) with his latest tour. 2017 is a dual celebration for the former member of Dr Feelgood as it’s the 30th anniversary of The Wilko Johnson Band and also his 70th Birthday.
Wilko was diagnosed in late 2012 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, Wilko announced that, thanks to a second opinion and subsequent life-saving surgery, he was cancer-free.
Originally from Canvey Island, Wilko studied English at Newcastle University before doing a bit of travelling. He was lured into music 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. Throughout the mid-70s, 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 prog-rock.
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.
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. 2014 saw the release of the hit album Going Back Home, Wilko Johnson’s collaboration with Roger Daltrey which went to Number 3 in the UK album charts.
- Tickets for the concert are available by contacting 02920 235555 or visiting tramshedcardiff.com/event/wilko-johnson/