Dr. Feelgood
Wilko Johnson (19 juillet 1980)

Propos recueillis par Chris Salewicz © N.M.E

Ian Dury & his motley crew of tars pressgang Wilko Johnson to help mix up the medicine in the studio basement.

 

A LITTLE musing on their past careers should make it clear how logical it is that Ian Dury and Wilko Johnson should end up working together.

Early '70s Pub Rock was, as Ian points out, generally only an excuse for "a beery Jolly-up", The Johnny B Goode Rest Home For ‘60s Musical Casualties, an often depressing, sometimes desperate affair rather than the roots movement it is generally painted.

Even though much of it was barren ground, there were isolated patches in which were gestating the seeds of the entire revision of British rock music that took place in 1976/7.

Stiff Records, though self-righteously sneered at by punk purists when the company began to experience its initial successes, was a direct result of its founders’ Involvement in Pub Rock - It was a loan from Dr Feelgood, indeed, that got the label going In the first place. In Its turn Stiff paved the way for every back garden label this country I has ever seen, even for the new Blockheads label itself.

The debt owed by The Sex Pistols to Ian Dury's Kilburn And The High Roads will probably never be admitted. It is probably more than coincidence, though, that one John Lydon was a frequent presence in the audience at London Kilburns gigs and evolved a hunched-over microphone stance not a million miles from that necessitated by Ian Dury's efforts to sing whilst holding onto the mike and supporting his pollo-withered left side. That Malcolm McLaren was a protege of Kilburns manager rag trade enfente terrible Tommy "Mr Freedom" Roberts should also not be overlooked.

About twelve months after the 1972 unleashing of the Kilburns In London Dr Feelgood appeared on the same precision on the Southend circuit. In the enigmatic Wilko Johnson, widely believed to be nutty as a fruitcake, they had a musician who was not only to have a powerful influence on rock’n’roller visual appearances for the rest of the decade but. In becoming the first British non heavy metal guitar hero - his style relied as much on his rhythm work as his lead playing - was to cause a re-evaluation of their craft for all potential guitarists possessed of any brains whatsoever.

The influence went even further. Though the Kilburns were blighted by a succession of music business foul-ups that in the end permitted them only 3,500 worldwide sales of their one Dawn LP, and which presented Ian Dury with a whole new set of horrors to work through before he was permitted to have his turn, Dr Feelgood could do no wrong. In the eyes of the punters, that is. Always considered a red herring completely distanced from any possibility of commercial success by a large section of the music business establishment, the number one hit they scored in 1976 with their 'Stupidity' album can be seen in retrospect as having helped open the flood gates for the New Wave. In the succeeding months almost all our new heroes got their deals.

At the same time, however, as Ian Dury is experiencing flurries of excitement and the beginnings of eventual huge sales for his 'New Boots And Panties' Stiff LP, Wilko, his spirit knocked awry by a combination of massive unexpected success and a bad amphetamine habit, is involved in bitter, pointless squabbling with the other members of the Feelgoods.

At the end of March, 1977, he is kicked out of the group, eventually forming The Solid Senders, a group that goes through two incarnations, experiencing great live audience and critical acclaim but no large success in terms of record sales.

Meanwhile, Chaz Jankel, lyricist Ian Dury's musical collaborator on six out of the ten songs on both 'New Boots And Panties’ and 'Do It Yourself', its successor, leaves The Blockheads. Now read on…

AT THE Knightsbridge end of the Fulham Road there’s a discreet alley, illuminated at night by the neon sign spotlighting the headquarters of ’60s fashion superstar Ossie Clarke.

In the basement adjacent is a small nondescript studio to which Ian Dury And The Blockheads have bought a season ticket. The recording in progress, though, is far removed from the showbiz attitudes of many '60s British rock’n’rollers suggested by the approach route which recalls an Antonioni-like vision of Swinging London.

Some might feel that Dury, perhaps the finest lyric-writer in England today if not for all time, goes well beyond the limits of rock’n’roll. I doubt, though, that he'd go along with the weighty claims made for him being some slackly defined Twentieth Century British cultural phenomenon. That would hardly fit the modest chap he is, with all the anxieties and self-doubt - and sometimes all the super-ego, too - of the artist.

Anyway, this studio… until about a month ago it was only eight-track which must have pleased purist Wilko Johnson mightily while he and The Blockheads cut his new single – Don Gibson's 'Oh Lonesome Me' backed by the Kilburns' 'Beauty' - down here is the first release for The Blockheads' own label, a venture that will permit worthy musicians to release their records, make records with assorted Blockheads and release them under their own name. The label will be distributed by Stiff, with Dury/Blockheads recordings proper released on Stiff. With the studio now a sixteen track, The Blockheads are cutting a new 45, 'I Wanna Be Straight' ("I'm sick and tired of taking drugs and staying up late"), for Stiff.

The B-side, 'Tomorrow (All Our Yesterdays Seem So Far Away)', is being worked on at the moment, with Ian on his own in the studio, sitting on a stool, hands clamping down his headphones, running again and again over the lyrics, whose chorus-line gradually mutates from a breathy "Vanessa, Vanessa, Vanessa "to the more Shakespearean "Tomorrow And Tomorrow And Tomorrow". In a rare departure for a man who likes to laboriously knock his words around on a portable typewriter, the lyrics are actually being written in recording time to fit the music of - another rare departure, a first even - saxist Davey Payne. It's a lengthy process, requiring patience, bottles of Perrier water, and occasional steps outside of the stifling _ atmosphere of studio and control room. Still, Ian knows this persistent labour to be a
necessary part of great, apparently simple rock’n’roll. "Elvis Presley," he points out, "did thirty-two takes of ’Hound Dog', and in the end they released number twenty-eight."

Wilko Johnson, as ever all in black, sits on the plastic couch in front of the glass panel through which Ian can be seen, as though appearing on a giant TV set. In a disappointed manner Wilko enigmatically searches through his pockets and scrapes around in his brief-case. He doesn't find what he's looking for, so he repeats the process again. And again.
"I had that single out in March on Rockburgh," he explains his presence. "And it didn't do a thing. I was so depressed about everything I was thinking of jacking it in altogether and finding some new occupation."

"But I'd agreed to do that Rainbow Stranglers' gig when Hugh Cornwell was inside, and Ian was doing it too. Anyway, both of us refused to play the encores – we thought we’d done our bit -so whilst that was happening I was just sitting backstage talking with Ian and telling him how I felt. "And I suppose that’s how I came to be here."

Wilko is now a fully-fledged member of The Blockheads. He has not, however, disbanded The Solid Sanders, and indeed two weekends ago cut an album with them that will be released in France and other parts of Europe through the auspices of Marc Zermati, the former Skydog label boss who is now running a new set-up following a jail sentence for heroin.

Also, Wilko is not the new Chaz Jankel, not the new Blockheads Musical Director.


THE DEPARTURE of pianist Jankel from The Blockheads last summer, so the rumours ran, filled Ian and the other members of the band with shuddering insecurity, though Jankel - a musical prodigy from around the age of six, as well as being the nephew of bandleader Joe Loss ("So he had that whole thing covered, too" explains Dury, pleasantly impressed)- was also rumoured to have been one-directional to an almost dictatorial extent during the making of the multi-overdubbed 'Do lt Yourself'.

Ian confesses to having been troubled by the loss of this ally : "I was a bit worried about how I was going to go on writing. I thought, Well, I can always do it with Mickey', I knew we could work well together, and the solution seemed to be to do what I've always done when one working partnership broke up – to find another.

"All the same, I wasn't really happy about that. I mean, why Mickey and not any of the other Blockheads ? Anyway, things seem to have worked out alright with everyone doing their little bits. This one I’m doing now is written by Davey: nine years I’ve been working with him, and we’ve never written anything together before." If anything, says pianist Mickey Gallagher, it’s easier working in the studio without Jankel : "It’s much more relaxed now. Much looser."

Besides, points out the quietly hedonistic, communicative Gallagher’s Geordie burr, the Blockheads had worked without Jankel for long periods of time : "There were three or four tours he didn’t do with us. It's much more democratic now, I think. And we're still all good mates, anyway."

 

The amicability is something Ian confirms. He feels confident, indeed, that at some stage in the future he'll work with Jankel again. Also he fully confident, indeed, that at some stage in the future he’ll work with Jankel again. Also he fully expects other Blockheads to step outside of the coop for lesser or greater lengths of time.

There were many, myself included, who felt Gallagher himself could well have vanished For a while, owing to his on/off role with The Clash. When that band played the Electric Ballroom last February Mickey told me he was enjoying himself much more playing with The Clash than with The Blockheads.

Now, though, it appears that remark was tempered by the grueling road-work that had left all The Blockheads frayed and uncertain, and that in reality working with The Clash is simply an essential, but definitely secondary, feeding bowl for the keyboarder.

Besides, there's just been a third source of Inputs for Mickey ; he was in the studio with Wilko and The Solid Senders for the entire Four days required to cut the Zermati album, He nonchalantly informs me, running his fingers in mock cool through his just-trimmed DA.

Unlike Mickey, bassist Norman Watt-Roy, and guitarist Johnny Turnbull, who all present variants on rockabilly stylization, Davey Payne, in his black leather slipover and Hereward The Wake flaxen tresses, looks as though he has a cameo role in a Middle English legend.

He and the rest of The Blockheads are about to follow Ian’s stint on the B-side by stepping into the studio to introduce their own names at the beginning of the record – an unprecedented device that doesn't detract from a feel which co-manager Kosmo Vinyl describes as "like Ian Dury And The Famous Flames. It oughta be on King".

Davey is feeling puzzled. "I tell you", he says to Norman. "I've already heard people whistling 'I Wanna Be Straight'. Honestly, I was walking through South Kensington coming here yesterday and l passed this bloke in the street whistling it."

Norman : "What? Do you think we've turned it into some all-purpose classic standard and are kidding ourselves that we've written it ?"

Davey : "Yeah. It's probably something like the ultimate Old Grey Whistle Test number." It is decided that the humour of Charley Charles' introduction of ''Hello. I’m Charley, I’m a blackie." Followed by Norman’s "Hello. I’m Norman. I’m a Paki." Will be wasted on radio programmers, and the individual members' one-liners are toned down to a more socially acceptable level of the order of Johnny Turnbull’s Tyneside lilt : "How ya keepin' ? Areet ? Champion."

 

What with Wilko's (he announces himself with a simple grunt of his first name) years of academia spent at Newcastle University there is a lot of Geordiness about the current Blockheads ; the new record will be huge in the North-East.

Actually, it'll be huge everywhere. As Ian quietly and confidently points out to no-one in particular : "This is the first single that’s the direct link to 'Sex And Drugs And Rock’n’Roll' - same vibe.

THE NEXT afternoon I find myself sitting drinking cups of tea with Ian Dury and Wilko Johnson around a small oak table in the sparsely furnished West End mansion flat into which Dury has just moved. This old place, on which the lease had run its term, had been behind Oxford Circus over a rag trade warehouse. It didn't matter how much noise he made there. Here, stuck away in the basement, he's worried about how the people living above are going to react when he begins percussing

Outside, this being Saturday, there's that gentle calm that descends over the West End at weekends, a sense maintained in the flat by the demeanour of the two musicians – two men who, paradoxically, have reputations for behaving in exactly the opposite manner to that in which they actually do carry themselves. They are both bemused by this undeserved reputation for being 'heavy characters'.

"I’ve always made it clear that I don’t want to be fucked about," says Ian's throaty growl. "I just made that quite clear very early on in any situation."

"Yeah," agrees Wilko's higher laughing twang, "there's a point where you won’t be pushed any further. And if you've got any pride at all that‘s not more than about one step back anyway."

At sporadic intervals throughout our afternoon's conversation we are joined by one or other of the Sphinx-faced chocolate brown Havana cats who prowl about us, all-knowing. They'd been brought round for Ian just before I arrived. "I bought them for E25 from a Chinese doctor in Peckham when l was drunk. They're brothers. I'm glad they didn’t have to be split up." says Ian, almost as though he's giving you a couple of lines from a new song.

Dark rain clouds scud across the sky, darkening the unlit room like stage lighting at intriguing moments. There is much jocularity and many Jolly-ups. It's Wilko's 33rd birthday.

There are plenty of similarities between Ian Dury and Wilko Johnson. Though at roughly opposite ends of their thirties, they’re both chaps with children, both lovers of literature, both highly articulate and erudite. They both like to talk a bit.

Wilko will probably be a good foil for Ian’s darker moods : about three hours into the conversation Ian's supping a can of Tennent’s Superlager and becoming a little maudlin.

"I’ve been more miserable in the last three years than at any other time in my life", he suddenly declares.

"Go on !" retorts Wilko, taking this announcement not at all seriously and offering no sympathy. "I know what you’re like : you’re just a miserable bastard like me. I bet you’re a lot happier now than when you were in Kilburn And The Highroads."

"Well", concedes Ian, "I like the song writing… And I like the studio work…"

What Ian doesn't like, though, and what ha been physically exhausting him, was the constant touring that The Blockheads had been doing until last autumn. It is doubtful, indeed, whether The Blockheads will ever again work on the road in such a physically and financially wasteful manner. One-off dates are apparently to be the scheme of things in the future.

At the moment Ian looks in very good shape If you can Ignore the thick stubble that looks as though it : maybe decided to turn into a beard : he's been swimming for five hours a day in a private pool he got the use of, and he thinks he’s in better physical shape than for about five years. "I got totally out of condition doing all that touring", he says. "And if you're a person with polio you need even more exercise than other people."

Ian is hardly reserved about his disability - how could he be when his polio-withered left-side has obviously had such a vast effect on his existence ?

In fact, he thinks it's time disabled people became more militant : "Three year ago last Christmas I applied for a job at 'Arrods as a lift-man. l went along, showed 'em my disability card that Heath got us, said, ’There you are. I'm one of your four per cent disabled. You’ve got to employ me. ’Did they fuck !"

"There’s three million disabled people in this country. Can you imagine what the government would do if they all came hobbling - 'cos it wouldn't exactly be a march - through London to the Houses of Parliament ?"

Ian Dury's endless optimism is Deep-grained and - obviously - born out of the tragedies in his life. He’s presumably had to teach himself not to hate, which is why he gives out so much love. You can't help wondering about the extant of the nightmares he's gone through.

THOUGH KILBURN And The High Roads and Dr Feelgood had played the same venues
together, Wilko and Ian weren't more than acquaintances. Wilko : "You'd know geezers and you’d get a suss about the sort of bands they were in and whether you liked them or you’d just keep on nodding terms with them. But if ever there was a Kilburns/Feelgoods gig it was a laugh. We had some real screams."

"Corrrr !" recalls Ian. "Remember that fucking Grenadier Guards gig at Windsor Barracke ?"

''Yeah, that was the one. That was funny. Actually, I can remember back then wondering about this whole Pub Rock thing, because there were no two bands alike. People would ask you, 'What is this Pub Rock thing ? Is it some kind of music ?' But it wasn't at all. It was just some places where people played."

"But I'd look at all the different groups, and find all kinds of different stuff, and think, 'The only other one I could ever see myself in is Kilburn And The High Roads.' They were the only other one that seemed to have anything special in the same way that Dr Feelgood seemed special."

Ian : "Both bands seemed aware that there was people in the bands, and they didn't mind being themselves or whatever… or exaggerating themselves or whatever. But basing it around what they were. I got that off the Feelgoods first time I saw them : it didn't look as if Brillo was pretending."

"It was Dave Robinson (now managing director of Stiff Records) who put me onto it. I met him down at The Speakeasy when the Kilburns did a gig there. Dave and Nick Lowe came into the dressing-room at half-time. He said, 'You should be in the pubs,' and put us in a week later, in the Tally Ho."

"Then the Kilburns were gigging six nights a week. But we used to go out onstage trying to do a concert - not a drunken old outing with loads of bods being sick all over your boots. Even though we was doing three sets between half past eight and quarter past eleven we still went out there as though it was the Royal Albert Hall, really coming on strong and not talking to the punters while we were playing, and not sharing a drink with them."

"That's it", nods Wilko, satisfied. "I think that’s one of the things we felt we had in common. Because although it was just bar-rooms we did take it so seriously."

Ian : "Yeah. Well, Dave Robinson was managing Brinsley Schwartz at the time, who were all big round beer bellies and Guinness and The Jolly-up, and we used to have terrible rows with him about this. We had terrible problems trying to dis-associate ourselves from The Jolly-up of it and still manage to play those venues."

"But the Kilburns did only 38 pub gigs altogether. As soon as we met Paul Conroy, who's now with Stiff and was an agent then, and he said, 'Do you want to go to Halifax next week ?'... well, we was gone : Clarence's Club, Halifax."

"But the Kilburns didn't particularly want to use those venues. They were a place to learn to play as much as anything. And the publicity… Nick Kent came down the Lord Nelson and because he is so good. You always feel a little bit like you're with the sergeant-major, and h does put you there a little bit. But when you hear it played back you know why he does it. I used to get discouraged working with him, but I’ve worked with other musicians whose attitude was one of encouragement, and I'd respond to it much quicker."

''I did a demo for 'Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick' - just me and one of our roadies on drums and drum machines and things - and I monologued how it should be but it was only rhythmical, and until me and Chaz worked on it didn't have any depth or any musical feeling or any chords or any playing. But the bones of it as a rhythmical piece were there When I'd done my bit. So l think I am a musician."

Wilko : "No ! You make music : you're musician."

Ian : "But I don't know nothing about chords and notes. I sometimes think it's better that I don't."

Wilko : ''But you do! You know about notes, because in the end you sing songs and they’re made of notes and it's how those notes succeed one another that makes it a song. And it comes from inside you. So you must know."

Ian : "I saw Speight back in the Kilbums and he was showing Russell Hardy something on the keyboards and he held five fingers down on each hand and ’e said ’You've gotta take one finger off and sing the note that's missing out of that ten finger chord, and until you can really do that and hear from where it’s missing and what's being flattened or diminished or whatever then you can't learn to sing properly'. And I can't do that yet."

"The only way I can do that is to play the piano and pick the notes out myself and then hear the relationships."

"But I'm going to learn to play the piano this year. I’ve got one in the other room. Mickey's going to help me. Because it’s good practice for this hand." He flexes his withered left hand."

"I reckon it's another two years and then I'll be able to call myself a singer. Everyone says that’ll definitely help with the pitching and with finding the right notes to sing."

Me : "I don't see any problems."

Ian : "In Switzerland apparently I'm regarded as a really good singer."

Wilko : "Well, it’s the cuckoo clock that does that… but I've seen you onstage and singing and it never crossed my mind that you had any doubts about it until I started talking to you.''

Ian : "But that’s why I didn't start until l was twenty-nine.''

Wilko : "But the first time I saw Kilburn And The High Roads I didn't think, 'Bright chap. Quite articulate. Can't sing ! I just thought.'There's a group here and this bloke’s singing all these songs.' 'Ow many singers can sing like Bobby Bland anyway ? We’re all on a scale somewhere below Bobby Bland. There's not a certain point somewhere below him where you’re no longer a singer."

"If you’re bellowing into a microphone you’re a fucking singer."

SUCH MUSICAL self-doubt, nurtured by the psychic re-structuring that comes with any sudden, large-scale success, has been gushing like a blown-out oil well in In Dury’s spirit over the past year, it seems. Mind you, Wilko probably wouldn't be in the Blockheads at all without it, so no doubt it'll all work out all right in the end.

"I felt that something had happened in our Blockheads music", says Ian, "and there was no longer any reliable and simple structural rhythm pattern running through it. It was always bouncing off the bounces all the time."

"And last year when we were out on the road we had about four songs where the audience didn't know when to clap. One of those was 'Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3’, and that's actually going..." Ian taps out a steady beat on the table. "Except it’s never actually stated because everyone's going…'' he mimes virtuoso musical performances.

"And it seemed like we'd lost the thread of it a bit. We didn't think we were being clever, though we thought we were being rhythmical."

"But there was a big hole there taking away the space."

"And I just saw Wilko and all I could hear was 'Oh Lonesome Me' in my head. It started pounding through my head, and I just desperately wanted to be in the studio with him. I'd never actually heard him singing all that much. But I could feel it visually as much as hear it."

"And hearing Wilko on rhythm guitar playing it with the band while we were doing the song a few weeks ago there was suddenly a sound there that had never been there before, a sound that I'd always wanted to hear. I mean, I couldn’t go up to Johnny and ask him to play simple rhythm, because he's a very springy guitar player BLATATABLATAtatat... A very, very fast guitar player."

"But as soon as I heard Johnny working his natural way with Wilko working his natural way, space appeared, and relationships between the lines and the chords appeared. And Charley dug it straightaway because he could relax then, because he's got to handle it when there's no other person doing it. And it just made total sense."

Wilko : "When Ian suggested doing that song - which is a record I've always liked from when I was first learning to play and being intrigued by the Nashville guitar solo - I thought, 'I can't do a thing like that'. But then I thought, 'It’s just a one-off crazy thing', and went in and did it, because Ian had just stood outside of me and seen me doing something I'd never dreamed of."

"What came out wasn’t the sort of thing I'd on my own, but the sort of thing I'd come out with with The Blockheads. That record isn't me. It's a real team effort." Had Wilko been apprehensive about his first meeting with The Blockheads ?

 

"Well, I know what sort of a geezer to go and sit next to when I'm feeling that sort of way now," he chuckles easily." If things get a bit frantic and I'm confused or something I go and sit near Charley, because he's got this mountainous calm within him. If I went a giggle I sit with Norm. If I wanna rap I sit with Mickey…

"It was a bit strange walking in, because Ian and Davey were the only ones I knew from before. It was quite a good atmosphere, really, because not knowing each other as friends made it a little bit business-like."

DURY AND The Blockheads have eleven finished demos towards their next album - working title 'Laughter' - to show for their two months in the Fulham Road studio. As was noted earlier Ian's usual song construction method is to link up already penned lyrics to equally finished music - though this is always liable to change.

As we’re talking about lyric-writing Wilko points out : "The thing about great rock’n’roll lines is they have to be instantly understood like slogans that come out at you – BANG ! Perhaps the greatest line in rock’n'roll is AWOPBOPALOOBOPALOPBAMBOO..."

I think it was "A souped-up Chevvy ? / A Cherry-red ’53'' disagrees Ian.

Who's Ian's favourite lyricist ? "The best of the lot is Chuck Berry. There's nobody to beat him. Smokey Robinson in a way, but he had a different attitude..."

Wilko : "Don't you like Leiber and Stoller ? The Coasters and stuff..."

Ian : "No, I hate 'em. I like The Coasters and I like King Curtis. But I hate them. The only thing I really like is 'Shopping For Clothes'..."

Wilko : "But a song like ’Shopping For Clothes’ is like Los Angeles Ian Dury…''

Ian : "Leiber and Stoller are like Shakespearean students who know about words. They'd like Jack Good. Looking at photographs of them convinces me they're like Jack Good. And Ned Sherrin doing a compilation show up at the Roundhouse convinces me totally they're like Jack Good."

Wilko : "Oh, I think they're great. Listen to lyrics like, 'You say that''', Ian joins in with him, ''music’s for the birds and you can’t understand the words/But honey if you did you'd really blow your lid. Well, I wish I could write something like that."

Ian : "Well, that is good, but it's university rock’n’roll Tin Pan Alley... but then Chuck Berry’s Tin Pan Alley as well, so it's cool. There's no difference, really. Chuck Berry’s a fantastic lyricist. It amazes me that anyone who can write lyrics like that doesn’t know anymore than he seems to."

"Christ, if I was Chuck Berry I'd be so bloody proud of myself because I knew I was Chuck Berry. I'd keep on being Chuck Berry like I used to be." He should go to evening classes at the Royal College Of Rock’n'Roll. Wilko (bursting with laughter) : "I mean, he's even older than me, and he’s more athletic, l think."

Me : "Now seriously, chaps, you're both at assorted points in your fourth decade. Do you actually think it matters about how old you are when you're rockin’ and rollin’ ?"

Wilko : "Well Chuck Berry was twenty-nine when he made his first record - when he made 'Maybelline'."

Ian : "The age group thing has only ever applied to rockabilly types, rather than soul types or jazz types. Black performers have always gone on… but rock’n’roll was picked up on at first by a young generation, but that young generation is now ten years older than me."

"Elvis Presley's audience could be anything up to fifty-five and still be fruity-hooty-wooty with it - they'd only have been twenty-eight when it first happened. And they'd be still dealing out them same vibes, same as my mum still digs Frank Crumlin, same as your mum might still dig Frank Sinatra in the same way as she did then."

"And it keeps on regurgitating itself as a spirit of music, as a certain kind of spirit that
does appeal to your heart when you're very young. And that never leaves you, and if you can keep on reviving it then what Johnny Flotten's done is woken it up in his generation, and they'll stay with him forever. And it's not only in his own generation but in a lot of other generations too that he's woken it up
."

"I mean, to see old people coming to our gigs is a real source of happiness. And to see them lifting their little kids up on their shoulders is also great enjoyment. Imagine that all those people are feeling those same vibes as you felt when you heard Gene Vincent for the first time."

"It's such e source of enjoyment to me can't describe it. And that enjoyment shouldn't be restricted to being seventeen-and-a-half."

Me : "It's complete nonsense that rock'n'roll is dead, because not only is it not dead but it’s actually growing every day…"
Ian : "Anyone 'oo’s ’eard rock'n'roll never forgets it."
Wilko (bubbling with excitement) : "And It's I great how it can afford so many people…"
Ian : "And it can be anything. 'Oo's that country geezer ? Don Williams. I call that country stuff rock'n'roll. It still gets you in the same place. Same as Charlie Parker. Anything with spirit and feeling in it. And we all hate these labels."

"But l think rock'n'roll is what I thought It was when I was fourteen. And that was Little Richard to me - who was a soul singer. It was Ray Charles. It was Laverne Baker. The Platters - they were a rock'n'roll group to me. All these categories - they’re a load of old bollocks to me. Otis Redding: I call him a rock'n’roll singer, because that's the name I grew up with and understood. I think reggae’s the same, really."

"It's got a beat that keeps you alive/The kids are rock’n’rollin’ from eight to eight-five. It's the only thing that's kept Keith Richard alive. For sure. What else could’ve kept him alive ? It's the only life - force in him as far as l can see. That man has stripped himself down to I rock'n'roll and nothing else. Good. That’s positive, I think."

"Rock'n’roll is music that is just enough in itself, and you don't have to get down on your knees to it or nothing : it's just there and it’s smashing."

"There never have been very many things like it. You can go and listen to a waterfall or watch the birds flying about in the country and that'll give you a similar feeling."

"But a package of happiness, of something that you really dig, that you can go down to the shop and get, and is there time and time and time again, is a bloody amazing thing !"

Wilko Johnson travaille sur un nouvel album
11 Mai 2017

Nouvelle biographie sur Lee Brilleaux
27 Novembre 2016

Docteur Wilko Johnson
20 Novembre 2016

4 Novembre 2017
Dr Feelgood
Les concerts à venir...
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31 Décembre 2017
Wilko Johnson
Les concerts à venir...
... sur le site officiel


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In Memory of Lee Brilleaux & Gypie Mayo