Wilko Johnson: ‘Terminal cancer makes me feel alive’

Former Dr Feelgood guitarist says diagnosis has left him feeling 'elated'

Former Dr Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson has said being diagnosed with terminal cancer has made him feel alive.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4‘s Front Row programme, Johnson said the news made him feel “vividly alive” and said it has “lifted” him from a life “moping in depression and things”.

He said: “I noticed the symptoms a few months ago – there was this lump in my stomach. I treated it by ignoring it and hoping it would go away. When I went in for the diagnosis and the doctor told me ‘You’ve got cancer’ it was quite plain it was an inoperable thing, there was nothing they could do.”

We walked out of there and I felt an elation of spirit. You’re walking along and suddenly you’re vividly alive. You’re looking at the trees and the sky and everything and it’s just ‘whoah’.

Earlier this month, Johnson revealed that he has terminal cancer of the pancreas and was not seeking any treatment. He also announced that he will play a short farewell tour of the UK, beginning at London’s Koko on March 6.

However, the guitarist admits that if he is not fit enough to play the gigs, then he’ll not force himself to get up on stage. “If the cancer kicks in before that, then I can’t go on stage. I’m not going to go on stage looking ill – I don’t wanna present a sorry spectacle,” he said.

Wilko Johnson will play:

London KOKO (March 6)
Bilston Robin 2 (7)
Holmfirth Picturedrome (8)
Glasgow O2 ABC (9)
London KOKO (10)

Johnson, 65, played lead guitar with Dr Feelgood from the band’s formation in 1971 until he left in 1977. During his stint, the band scored a Number One album with their 1976 live LP ‘Stupidity’. After departing, Johnson played with The Blockheads for a brief spell in 1980 and released a succession of albums with The Wilko Johnson Band.

More recently he appeared as an actor in the hit HBO show Game Of Thrones. His autobiography Looking Back At Me was published in June 2012.

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