Before I read this book I knew very little about Wilko Johnson. Other than the fact that he was that mad looking guitarist from proto-punk pioneers, Dr. Feelgood, who churned out hits in the ‘70s such as the stonkin’ ‘She Does It Right’ and ‘Roxette’. As it turns out, he’s a bit of a legend.
When I received the proof copy for review, the cover immediately drew me in - Johnson; that expression, arms outstretched ‘Don’t You Leave Me Here’. I knew that this was going to be an interesting read.
And I wasn’t wrong. The book opens in a hot and rainy Tokyo, where he has a very loyal and adoring fan base. He speaks of his inoperable tumour swelling in his stomach, no longer hidden by his guitar. As he plays to a packed house (this was to be one of his last shows) having been given only months to live, he experiences not sadness, but overwhelming joy.
Rewind almost 70 years. Johnson takes us back to his humble beginnings on Canvey Island, through to buying his first guitar. He wanted, and eventually bought, a Fender Telecaster after studying his idol Mick Green of Johnny Kidd & The Pirates where he copied his style of playing. He tells of his scary drug-addled trip through India, his time as a teacher, the beginnings and endings of Dr. Feelgood, not forgetting the love of his life, Irene. And then there’s the cancer. Thankfully it’s a happy ending in that respect.
I really like the way that this book has been written. It’s unpretentious, funny, heartwarming and brave. He, unlike some other so called ‘rock stars’ seems to hold his followers in high regard, and it’s written from the ground upwards. It is warts and all; messy in parts, but you cannot help but love him for that. I really didn’t want the book to end. A highly recommended read, which is available from 26th May.
Little, Brown, 256 pages, ISBN : 978-1408708002
Catch Wilko on his latest tour, details of which are here.
We have a hardback copy of the book ready to send to the first person out of the Twitter hat who correctly tweets us the UK Singles Chart position that Dr. Feelgood's 'Milk and Alcohol' eventually made it to (and yes, we're aware that Wilko wasn't involved in this one). Tweet us @musosguide and include the tag #DYLMH. Only open to UK residents (postage overseas would be a bit much) and not open to contributors to the site. Competition closes 17:00 on 01/6/16.