Guitarist set to say final farewell

Wilko Johnson on stage.
Wilko Johnson on stage.
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LEGENDARY rock guitarist Wilko Johnson is set to play his final gigs in Sheffield next month – after being diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.

The 65-year-old, who made his name with 70s band Dr Feelgood, is to play two nights at The Greystones pub on Saturday and Sunday, February 16 and 17.

Wilko is refusing to have treatment for his illness and is determined to play shows for as long as he is able.

Promoter Chris Wilson said he had worked with Wilko for more than 20 years and he had close links with Sheffield.

“His mum was from Sheffield and he went to school here for a short time. He also had family here – until very recently he still had an aunt and uncle living in the city.”

Wilko first came to Sheffield in 1953 when he was evacuated from his home in Canvey Island, Essex, after a flood, staying with relatives of his mother.

He has always had a large following of fans in Sheffield, dating back to his time with the Feelgoods in the mid 70s.

The band were a big success, first appearing on the Naughty Rhythms package tour and later selling out Sheffield’s City Hall.

Such was the fan response that they chose the venue for the recording of half of their number one live album Stupidity in 1975.

Wilko has been a regular visitor to Sheffield ever since, packing out venues like the Boardwalk and the Academy.

Dr Feelgood gained new fans and popularity after their story was told in a feature length documentary Oil City Confidential in 2009.

Chris said: “Wilko called me when he found out about his illness which was some weeks ago. It was a long, emotional chat and he was surprisingly chirpy.

“He looks a very fearsome, nasty piece of work and believe me you definitely wouldn’t mess with him, but Wilko’s a great guy and he’s been wonderful to me and my family.

“I can’t imagine what the atmosphere is going to be like on that final night and I really can’t bear the thought of saying goodbye to him after the show knowing we probably won’t see him again.”