Wilko Johnson says he wasn’t able to fully understand what was going on when Going Back Home, his album with Roger Daltrey, was declared a success.
He was being prepared for lifesaving surgery on his pancreatic cancer when he was told of the award-winning record’s sales success.
Johnson tells the BBC: “When it was being released I was already in hospital. The surgeons at Addenbrookes Hospital had determined they could operate so I’d said, ‘Okay, have a go.’ I was lying in a bed full of tubes and morphine as it was being released.
“I remember people coming in and telling me, ’It’s really selling – it’s been really successful,’ and me going, ‘Really good man,’ while not really quite aware of what was going on.”
He’d already accepted he was going to die of cancer before it became clear surgery was an option, and believed Going Back Home was the final musical project he’d complete.
“It was very strange making the record,” he recalls. “I was already in extra time – it was in November and I was supposed to be dead in October. We did it in a little studio out in the country. I remember in the night time, stepping outside and walking up and down among the trees, and thinking, ‘What a life. This is fantastic – this is the last thing I’ll ever do, making an album with Roger Daltrey.’”
Johnson is still on the road to recovery after his surgery, and recently admitted he was struggling to come to terms with the fact that his life would go on.
He returned to action for a guest spot The Who’s cancer charity show last month, and vows he’ll be fully back in action within months, saying: “I’ve never had so long not playing. As early as possible in the new year I want to get back on stage and play. One of the first things I want to do is a benefit for Addenbrookes Hospital as a tiny, tiny gesture of thanks for what they did for me.”