Wilko Johnson announces 2015 tour dates
Veteran guitarist/singer beats cancer and hits the road with his band
This article is from 2015.
It’s one of the more awesome comebacks in rock'n'roll history. Much-loved guitarist and singer Wilko Johnson – owner of the most intimidating glare in pub-rock, who was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in 2013, and who gave an emotional farewell tour the same year – has announced dates for an extended screw-this-I'm-staying-here tour of the UK, Ireland and Europe between March and August.
The tour sees the guitarist reunited with his long-term band, jazz drummer Dylan Howe and staggeringly virtuosic bassist Norman Watt-Roy.
Johnson, who also plays grim-faced executioner Ilyn Payne on HBO's Game of Thrones, had come to terms with his own impending death, but it seems that in the ensuing stare-out contest, death blinked first.
The cause of this unexpected revival in his fortunes is a major operation in April 2014, which removed his pancreas and quite a few of his other innards, leaving him apparently cancer-free. The surgeon who carried it out had the touching added motivation of being a big fan, keen to see his hero step onstage again.
The result is up there with other heartwarming comebacks of classic rock, such as Def Leppard's drummer Rick Allen, who went on being Def Leppard's drummer despite losing one arm in a car accident; the late Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, who – after falling into a diabetic coma in 1986 – literally forgot how to play the guitar but then successfully relearned it; and Robert Wyatt, whose paralysing fall from a window ended his career as drummer for Soft Machine but prompted him to reinvent himself as, well, Robert Wyatt.
For his part, Wilko Johnson can be confident that his status as British rock’n’roll's most death-defying badass is now effectively sealed.