Wilko Johnson's great year
- Bang Showbiz
- 17 April 2017
Wilko Johnson had one of the "greatest years" of his life when he was given 12 months to live and insists he never felt sorry for himself
Wilko Johnson had one of the "greatest years" of his life when he was given 12 months to live.
The 69-year-old musician was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in 2013 and embarked on a farewell tour, and refused to give in to self-pity because he knew everyone's time draws to an end eventually.
He said: "That year thinking my life was at an end was one of the greatest years of my life.
"The way I handled it was at all times to understand, 'Yes, I'm gonna die' but don't sit there wishing you aren't gonna die because we're all gonna die. I never felt self-pity. I was never in tears all that time...
"Looking out at thousands and thousands of people [at Fuji Rock in Japan] and they all know you're gonna die... oh man. I'm gonna die, but it's alright. What a high."
The legendary guitarist - whose beloved wife Irene died of cancer in 2004 - defied the odds and overcome the disease following a risky 12-hour operation and admitted it can be "hard" to know he survived where so many others don't.
He said: "It's hard to know there are people suffering from cancer who don't survive, and then me.
"Why me? It's another proof there is no God, man. Because why is Irene lying in her grave and I'm sitting here talking to you?
"She was a wonderful person, a real asset to the world. But that's the way it goes."
And Wilko doesn't think he'll ever get over Irene's death.
He said recently: "I would look up at the stars and realise that in all the gulfs and light years of the cosmos, she was nowhere to be found.
"The moon looked like a cold lump of mud in the sky.
"I tell you what. Last night I couldn't sleep. Not an unusual occurrence. But I was in hell. Upstairs just... I was just thinking, 'What's it all about?' Oh man.
"And then of course, thinking about her. It's like a light's gone out of the world ever since then. And I've never got over it."