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Legendary guitarist rocks on at Bridport's Electric Palace
IT’S all go in the world of Wilko Johnson.
The legendary Essex-born and based guitarist who made his name with Dr Feelgood may be well into his sixties but he has absolutely no plans to slow his pace.
Not content with touring the UK to promote the recently released Dr Feelgood box set, he is launching his autobiography Looking back At Me, writing the preface for a book about Fender Telecaster guitars, appearing as the granite-faced executioner Ser Ilyn Payne in the mega fantasy series Game of Thrones on Sky Atlantic and planning further tours and recordings for the rest of the year.
Away from work he is continuing to study the celestial heavens – while bemoaning the light pollution that blights the sky around his Southend home – and making plans to see his new grandson Dylan who lives in Dubai.
“The last couple of years I have been busier than I have for some time,” he said, somewhat resignedly, in his gravely Essex tones. “It’s all stuff that’s out of my control and I don’t know what’s going on. We are on tour but I don’t know where we are going – they just put me in a car, take me somewhere and then put me on stage.
“Then there’s the preface for the guitar book. I thought I’d just have to write a few paragraphs but it’s so hard, I keep putting it off. That’s what musicians do – they are used to slobbing about and putting things off. I don’t know about a deadline, it’s more a woundedline.”
He is great company, Wilko.
You get him talking and off he goes, everything from his love of astronomy to touring Japan in the aftermath of last year’s earthquake and tsunami.
“When the earthquake hit I was talking to a friend in Tokyo on Skype and the bookshelf behind her started doing this little shimmy thing. I asked if it was an earthquake and she said: ‘Oh yes’.
“We went out there two weeks after and it was really strange. We were sitting in a café and there was an aftershock and everything started shaking, like when you’re in a plane and there’s turbulence. But people spoke to me after the gigs and said how grateful they were that we had gone out there.”
From starring in one of the 1970s most influential bands, Wilco has now gone on to play a part in what is arguably one of the biggest draws on satellite television.
Game of Thrones is a lengthy fantasy saga about warring families in the mythical land of Westeros, written by George RR Martin. Now in its second series, it has become the benchmark for exuberant use of nudity and gore and Wilko was brought onboard following his appearance in Oil City Confidential, Julian temple’s celebration of the work of Dr Feelgood.
“Game of Thrones is the first bit of acting I have done,” he said. “My character is mute because he doesn’t have a tongue so I just sit there and give everyone dirty looks. It was great fun to do. You have to be ready at 6am and there is an army of people involved, even someone to make sure the candles burn down at the right rate.”
The current tour brings Wilko to the Electric Palace on Sunday and he is looking forward to playing the old tracks, which still get a great response from fans.
“There is the box set out and I think we are touring to make it look like we are co-ordinated in some way,” he laughed. “We will be playing the old tracks which still sound pretty good, so it should be a great night.”
Wilko Johnson is at the Electric Palace, Bridport on April 29 at 8pm.
Tickets are £17.50 from the box office on 01308 424901.