Essex

Wilko Johnson farewell tour: 'Heartless' ticket touts criticised

Wilko Johnson
Image caption Wilko Johnson announced a farewell tour after revealing he had terminal cancer

Music venues and fans have criticised "heartless" touts and agencies selling tickets for guitarist Wilko Johnson's farewell tour at inflated prices.

The former Dr Feelgood guitarist, 65, has terminal cancer but is playing a series of dates in February and March.

A spokeswoman for one venue said she was "sickened" that tickets for the sold-out shows were being advertised for nearly 10 times face value.

Ticket website Viagogo said it provided a "secure marketplace" for sellers.

'Really sickening'

Johnson, of Westcliff-on-Sea, found fame with 1970s rock band Dr Feelgood, from Canvey Island, Essex.

After leaving the band in 1977, he joined Ian Dury's Blockheads and formed his own group, The Wilko Johnson Band.

Last month he announced he was suffering from pancreatic cancer and had refused chemotherapy.

He told Radio 4's Front Row he had been given nine or 10 months to live but had experienced a strange "euphoria" since his diagnosis.

Tickets for his farewell tour sold out within hours.

Image caption Johnson has refused chemotherapy for his illness

But now tickets for a show at London's Koko, originally sold for £20, are being offered online at prices of £227.

Tickets for his date at The Robin 2 in Bilston, near Wolverhampton, originally sold for £17.50 but are now priced at £171 on Viagogo.

Laura Smart, spokeswoman for the venue, said: "We think it's really sickening. The people who do it are really quite heartless.

"There are many upset fans who won't be able to make it for a last time."

Chris Sharp, owner of The Fleece, Bristol, said one Facebook user had boasted of buying four tickets for Johnson's gig there in the hope of making a "killing".

It is understood he did not receive the tickets and has since apologised.

"It's just not on. It's really bad," said Mr Sharp.

"While it's legal, people are always going to do it but they should be drawing a line somewhere."

'Fuels greed'

The tour also visits Sheffield, Holmfirth, Southsea, Glasgow and Guernsey.

Under UK law it is not illegal to resell tickets for concerts.

Nigel Kerr, Johnson's agent, said tickets for the London dates were originally priced at a "reasonable" £20.

"I think anybody who buys any ticket above the actual, proper price wants their head tested.

"I hope people don't buy them, but until the government makes it illegal to resell tickets this is going to go on and on. It just fuels people's greed."

Ed Parkinson, head of marketing at Viagogo, said: "There has always been an aftermarket for tickets.

"Our role is to provide a secure marketplace and a guarantee that buyers will get a valid ticket in time for the event."

He said the company did not buy tickets, and that they were listed by sellers who also set the prices.

Tickets are also being sold above face value on eBay.

A eBay spokesman said: "We were sorry to hear Wilko's news. When concerts are held for charity, we restrict ticket sales and make sure there is a donation to charity. When a concert is a commercial event, we do not restrict ticket sales."

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