Fan’s fight to save Wilko’s life
Doctor who thought cancer could be cured wasn’t allowed backstage to say so - and when he got there Johnson wouldn’t listen
The man who saved Wilko Johnson’s life nearly couldn’t pass on his urgent message to the musician because bouncers wouldn’t let him backstage.
And even once he'd made his way through, the former Dr Feelgood guitarist told him he didn’t want to listen.
But the efforts of photographer and doctor Charlie Chan paid off, and Johnson last year underwent a pioneering procedure that cured him of terminal cancer.
The story is told in upcoming documentary The Ecstasy Of Wilko Johnson, created by Julien Temple, who also made Feelgood movie Oil City Confidential.
Temple tells Fox: “He was living vividly in the moment. He accepted his fate in a very inspiring way and kept on playing. He didn’t want to poison his last 10 months.
“After about 18 months a photographer in the pit at one of his concerts, who had a medical background, said, ‘This guy’s got too much energy – what’s going on?’
“It’s a typical rock’n’roll thing. He tried to get backstage and couldn’t. He was blocked, but forced his way thought and said, ‘Wilko, you’ve got to listen.’ Wilko was saying, ‘No, I’ve accepted everything. I’m beyond worrying about this.’ The guy had to really insist.”
Johnson is expected to make a full recovery and he’s currently playing his first UK tour since what was expected to be his farewell trip in 2013. Temple says of his movie: “‘Live in the moment’ is an easy cliche to mouth, but Wilko certainly does that.
“The film can also introduce people to this wonderful musician, as well as telling the extraordinary story of a man confronting his own mortality. He’s a very unique and eccentric Englishman.”
WIlko Johnson UK dates
Mar 18: Manchester Ritz
Mar 20: Glasgow O2 ABC
Mar 26: London Royal Albert Hall – with The Who
Apr 26: London O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire
May 02: Cheltenham Jazz Festival
May 29: Dublin O2 Academy
May 31: Roryfest, Ballyshannon
Jun 06: Lunar Festival, Tamworth-in-Arden
Jul 30: Cambridge Folk Festival