Don't You Leave Me Here
By Wilko Johnson
'Man, there's nothing like being told you're dying to make you feel alive.' Wilko Johnson
In 2013, Dr Feelgood founder, Blockheads member and musical legend Wilko Johnson was diagnosed with terminal cancer. With ten months to live, he decided to accept his imminent death and went on the road. His calm, philosophical response made him even more beloved and admired. And then the strangest thing happened: he didn't die. Don't You Leave Me Here is the story of his life in music, his life with cancer, and his life now - in the future he never thought he would see.
The man from Canvey Island, who studied English at Newcastle University before doing a bit of travelling, could have been a retired teacher by now, sucking on a pipe and whittling away at his pension. But no, Wilko was lured into music by the dark magic spun by his first Telecaster, bought from a music store in Southend, Essex, soon after becoming the strutting, grimacing, six-string rhythmic powerhouse behind Lee Brilleaux in Dr Feelgood.
Feel good? Audiences certainly did in the mid '70s as Wilko duck-walked his way across countless stages and venues in the UK, with Dr Feelgood in the vanguard of the pub rock movement, performing the gutsy down-to-earth rock and roll that was a welcome antidote to the faltering prog-rock era.
Feelgood had four successful albums in Wilko's time, then followed a busy creative period playing in an early incarnation of the Wilko Johnson Band, the Solid Senders, before he joined Ian Dury's band The Blockheads, in 1980.
All through the '80s, '90s and into the new millennium he continued to gig in the UK, Europe and Japan. But it was when Julien Temple's award winning Oil City Confidential came out in 2009, with Wilko emerging as the film's star, and then again in 2010 when he was cast in HBO's Game of Thrones, that the world once again sat up and paid attention to his extraordinary talent.
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- Publication date:
26 May 2016
- Page count:
Riotous . . . [those seeking wisdom and insight] will be gripped, astonished and profoundly moved — Sunday Times
A thoughtful, funny and humane book — Spectator
If you are a music fan, and even if you are not, it would be hard to recommend this book too highly . . . The book, happily, reflects the man - and there can be no higher compliment than that — Marcus Berkmann, Daily Mail
Johnson writes like the Mythical Bloke in the Pub speaks. Offering up a cracker of a tale, before going off on a tangent, he adds enough "anyways" and "sos" to make the more dramatic revelations relatable . . . his humour also bubbles through, which is often wonderful — Observer
A touchingly revealing, funny, poetic and erudite voice . . . Blunt honesty is just one of the many endearing qualities ensuring sweet justice is delivered to this man's extraordinary tale — Classic Rock Magazine
This snappy life and times reveals Wilko to be as sharp a writer as he is a guitarist — Mail on Sunday
Gloriously eccentric, mordantly funny and fiercely observant, this autobiography is that rare thing, a memoir by a brilliant musician who writes as well as he plays — Daily Mail