Essex

Wilko Johnson: Guitarist dreams of Bob Dylan collaboration

Wilko Johnson Image copyright Laurence Cawley
Image caption Wilko Johnson was given 10 months to live after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer

Wilko Johnson says he has found it "difficult" coming to terms with still being alive after being told he had terminal cancer.

The former Dr Feelgood guitarist, 67, was given 10 months to live after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but was given the all clear in April.

Johnson, who lives in Southend, says he now hopes to fulfil ambitions including playing with Bob Dylan.

"I'm finding it hard to mentally adjust to the idea that I can plan," he said.

Johnson underwent 11 hours of radical surgery at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge to take out the 3kg tumour.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Wilko Johnson (left) was a founding member of Dr Feelgood

The operation also involved removing his pancreas, parts of his stomach, spleen and small and large intestines.

He told BBC Essex: "You go in and see someone and he says three words that take about three seconds - you've got cancer.

"Bang, your universe has changed, absolutely and irrevocably."

After being given his terminal diagnosis, Johnson embarked on a farewell tour last year and recorded an album with The Who's Roger Daltrey.

But medics found he had a rare and curable form of the cancer when one of his doctor friends started to question why he was still feeling fairly well several months after he had been told he had less than a year to live.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Wilko Johnson played a farewell tour after being told he had terminal cancer
Image caption Roger Daltrey recorded an album with Wilko Johnson in 2013

Johnson said despite finding it tough to grasp the concept that he could think about the future, he does hope to tour again next year and release more music.

"I was very, very weak when I came out and slowly coming to terms with the idea that the end is not nigh - that I'm not facing the end," he said.

"Previously there wasn't a future so I was living in the moment.

"People would ask when I was going to die, have you fulfilled all your ambitions and I would have to say 'yes'.

"But perhaps one thing, I would love to play with Bob Dylan... because I worship him.

"I'm almost fit again and in the new year I will start playing again, doing gigs, and hopefully I'm going to sit down, scratch my head and write some songs and make some records.

"But it's all a bit vague."

Image caption Wilko Johnson left Dr Feelgood in 1977, a year after reaching number one with the album Stupidity

The past four years have been fulfilling professionally. Julien Temple's 2009 documentary Oil City Confidential reminded people of Dr Feelgood's legacy and introduced a new audience to their music.

A stint as an actor in the hit US TV series Game of Thrones has also been a highlight for Johnson.

"I went over to Ireland to do the first part of filming and realised, 'man, this is a big, huge production," he said.

"There's one guy and his sole gig is to make sure the candles haven't burnt down.

"This is so different from rock 'n' roll - for one thing you get up much earlier in the morning."

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