Wilko

This is a great reworking of a classic.

Note the bass player from The Blockheads. That was from an album celebrating his survival from cancer – pancreatic I think?

Tensions that had always been present between Johnson and his hard-drinking bandmates began to stretch towards breaking point. The others were content to let the guitarist handle all the songwriting, and the relentless touring schedule denied the perfectionist Johnson the time he needed to come up with new material.

Socially, too, they were drifting apart, with the then-teetotal Johnson keeping to his room with a selection of non-alcoholic stimulants rather than joining his colleagues in the bar. He became withdrawn and touchy, a recipe for disaster in a band where the gags and jibes flowed even faster than the booze.

Err, yes.

Guess which of the four was on amphetamines, which on booze?

I’ve always had a very soft spot for this track:

One of the first albums I ever bought that.

And, of course:

11 thoughts on “Wilko”

  1. Sadly to be missed. I think I may have been at that Kursaal gig. Certainly saw them a few times.
    And yes, speed. Puts that magic ZING! in life. Charlie’s for girls

  2. I used to go through the Blackwall in my trusty Anglia full of my mates to see these guys.
    Although I was a well hard geezer (not really, think Tom Cruise playing Jack Reacher…) Lee and Wilko used to terrify me.
    Lee because I always thought he carried a razor in his jacket pocket and Wilko, well he might look at me and then what would happen? Beams from those crazy eyes? Or a Medusa-like turning to stone?
    Loved the gigs, though.

  3. Saw Dr Feelgood twice (in Bath and Bristol)…. but with John Mayo on guitar. Was slightly too young to catch them at their height.

    Both were fantastic gigs (Mayo was a great guitarist, after all) but definitely had that ‘something’ missing when compared with some of the films of the band live with Wilko.

  4. Along with the Faces, the two best live bands ever.

    Lee Brilleaux was a charismatic bastard, Wilko a crazed genius: The Big Man and Sparks, the perfect engineroom.

    Very happy 1976 memories.

    RIP

  5. Wilko switched to a red scratchplate on his Telecaster to hide the spatters of blood from his right strumming hand.

    I almost managed the Wilko two guitarists with one guitar trick, almost.

  6. Saw Wilko Johnson’s Solid Senders towards the end of the ’70s. They were playing Slough College (now University of the Thames Valley).

    He’d just left the Feelgoods and there was a worry that he was going to turn into some tragic, Syd Barrett-style cult figure. My mates and I knew we had to be there to support the man.

    The venue was a right dive that Saturday night, 3/4-empty, badly lit and dusty, but Wilko gave it everything – the manic stage presence, the vicious, chopping chords, the 1,000-yard stare.

    By the middle of the set he had us dancing, shouting, headbanging, pogoing … he was feeding off the atmosphere he’d built up. A real, unique and very British musician.

  7. Other big Brit acts came to Denmark but Dr Feelgod didn’t. Nor could you get their records here. I remember that as a huge sense of loss at the time. Sex and drugs and rock and roll are very good indeed

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