A very sad announcement on Wilko Johnson’s Facebook page today:
WILKO JOHNSON – IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT I am very sad to announce that Wilko has recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the pancreas. He has chosen not to receive any chemotherapy. He is currently in good spirits, is not yet suffering any physical effects and can expect to enjoy at least another few months of reasonable health and activity.
He has just set off on a trip to Japan; on his return we plan to complete a new CD, make a short tour of France, then give a series of farewell gigs in the UK. There is also a live DVD in the pipeline, filmed on the last UK tour. Wilko wishes to offer his sincere thanks for all the support he has had over his long career, from those who have worked with him to, above all, those devoted fans and admirers who have attended his live gigs, bought his recordings and generally made his life such an extraordinarily full and eventful experience.
Thank you. Robert Hoy (Manager)
It is not just the sheer bad news of the impending demise of the greatest living Essexman and a certifiable national treasure but the idea of him making the decision to forego treatment and then to see out what could be his last months of health with tours and other business.
I had wanted to see him play in Brighton last year just after my birthday but nobody picked up on my subtle hints. Somehow I never have got round to seeing him play live because when I saw Dr. Feelgood it was just after he left, and now I probably won’t because I suspect his farewell tour will be a morbid and traumatic experience. I guess it is good that he, and his fans, get some warning and a chance to say goodbye properly rather than the sudden deaths of, say, Whitney Houston or Michael Jackson, but it would be difficult to enjoy the show with that sort of cloud hanging over it.
What surprised me was just how upset I was about this news. Plenty of famous people have got ill or died without me really feeling it. I can’t even claim to be a massive lifelong fan. I remember we all enjoyed Wilko’s manic playing when we saw him on TV in the 70s but I only really appreciated just how good and influential his time in the Feelgoods was over the last ten years. Or twenty. Time really flies doesn’t it?
Anyway, I don’t think I have ever felt so bad about hearing such news about anybody I wasn’t related to. If you had asked me any time before today which celebrity I would feel most upset to hear bad news about I don’t know who I would have said, but doubt I would have come up with Wilko’s name straight away. It just shows that sometimes you really don’t know your own mind.