Fans fly from Japan to see Wilko Johnson

Wilko Johnson with fans
Wilko Johnson with fans
Grace Hutton after the cut
Pictures by Ellie Pilmoor

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A FAMILY of fans flew from Japan to see their hero Wilko Johnson perform one last time before he dies of cancer.

Wilko was told in December last year that he only had six months to live, but he declined any treatment, and decided he wanted to keep playing live as long as possible. The 66-year-old made an emotional appearance at the Wickham Festival on Sunday, where he was watched by the Charles family who had come from Tokyo for the set.

Christophe Charles, wife Litsuko and 14-year-old son Egon made the pilgrimage to pay homage to the musician – and got to meet him afterwards backstage.

Christophe said: ‘It was a long way but I just had to be here.

‘I have been a fan for almost 40 years and this is probably my last chance to see him play.

‘Wilko actually played in Japan last week but I was out of the country and I missed it so I decided to bring the family to England to see him.

‘We got to meet him and he is genuinely a lovely man as well as a great musician. It was a fantastic set, very emotional. We all loved it. There was a great atmosphere and I was very impressed with everything about the festival. It was wonderful.’

Wilko told The News for last week’s Big Interview in The Guide how much he loves playing in Japan and his fans there.

He said: ‘I was very touched they had come all this way just for me and I am glad they enjoyed the set.

‘I hope they get another chance to see me play but that depends how things go. At the moment I feel good but I know it can change at any time.’

Festival organiser Peter Chegwyn said: ‘I was stunned when we got an email on Saturday that three fans were flying in from Japan and wanted to be sure they would get in as they knew it was going to be a sell-out.

‘There wasn’t a dry eye in the house after Wilko’s set. He got a remarkable reception, which summed up the mood of this event with such a fantastic feelgood factor.’

Around 20,000 music fans packed into the site over the weekend, which also saw the likes of 10CC, the Waterboys, Dexys and Seth Lakeman play.

Saturday and Sunday were sold out, with more than 100 fans having to be turned away at the gates.