WILKO Johnson has fond memories of Glasgow.

There was the time, back in December 1974, when he and his then band, Dr Feelgood, supported space-rockers Hawkwind at the Apollo. The Feelgoods, Canvey Island's finest, would return to the old venue five times over the next five years, on each occasion as headliners.

"Us and Hawkwind were a great bill," Wilko says. "We had just been signed by United Artists, Hawkwind's label. UA wanted to give us a little experience in the larger venues. That was where I first met and made friends with Lemmy, who turned out to be a good pal." Lemmy, of course, is Ian Fraser Kilmister, Hawkwind's bass player and, later, frontman with Motorhead.

"I do remember that particular [Apollo] gig, because it was one of the first bunch of large gigs we did. The audience at, I think, Manchester, the night before, had given us a bit of a hard time – they were a bit partisan towards Hawkwind – and we were nervous, because the Glasgow Apollo had a reputation as a tough one. But it was such a great show for us, and we really went down well. Obviously," he adds, "I've always been a bit of a Glasgow fan."

These past few weeks, it has been hard to avoid the reason why Wilko's sold-out show at the Glasgow O2 ABC tomorrow will be rather a poignant one. As an "important announcement" on his website, penned by his manager, Robert Hoy, puts it: "I am very sad to announce that Wilko has recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the pancreas. He has chosen not to receive any chemotherapy."

Wilko, 65, received the diagnosis just before Christmas. "When I walked out the hospital into the sunshine," he has said, "suddenly I felt this elation. I just felt so alive. Everything was just so tingly. By the time I got home, I was almost euphoric. It seemed to me that finding this out had somehow completed my life."

Ever since the news broke, he has given interview after interview. His profile has never been higher. He's even been on the BBC Breakfast TV sofa. His Facebook page is laden with affectionate tributes from fans, not all of whom were able to get tickets for what will be his final tour. He remains upbeat, as can be seen from a post he put up on February 11: "I'm fit as a fiddle, apart from the old cancer."

Journalist Tony Parsons has described Johnson as "one of the true greats of British music - You made this world a better place. People you will never meet, love you dearly. And I really wanted to tell you that, Wilko. Long before it's time to tell you goodbye." Alex Kapranos, frontman of Franz Ferdinand, has spoken of Wilko's profound influence on Franz.

Parsons does not exaggerate. Johnson is a great rhythm-and-blues songwriter, as well as a gifted guitarist whose fluent combination of lead and rhythm work makes him instantly recognisable; in concert, too, he is a mesmerising presence – much like the Stones' Keith Richards – as he stalks the stage, his guitar like a machine-gun. "What I do," he says, "is to entertain people, and perform. The funny walk is as much part of the gig as anything else."

Johnson and his band did some dates across Japan, then France and Sheffield before embarking on the final leg: London, Bilston, Holmfirth, Glasgow and Guernsey.

"The French gigs went very well indeed but there were some long drives in between, a lot of travelling," he says. "Of course, France was under snow all that week, so we were kind of struggling.

"This tour," he adds, "was put together when I was on holiday in Japan earlier this year. A lot of the choices of venues were dictated simply because we had to put together a tour as quickly as possible while I'm still on my feet.

"Of course, Glasgow would be a choice for us, because we've had good times there. We wanted to cover most of the favourite places that were available."

It must be a curious experience, The Herald suggests, to be able to read your own obituary, which is what Wilko has been presented with. Have all these tributes had an impact on him? "It has, in all ways. I came back from Japan with a carrier-bag full of letters that people had written. Reading them through, it was just so touching, because they were so very personal. I always knew we were popular there ... but it was as though they were speaking to a friend.

"Then more and more started coming in from the UK and everywhere, and from well-known people in the rock business. Touching is the word - it's been really nice. I didn't know people cared."

He adds a few seconds later: "If people have felt like that about me, generally it's not been expressed; I'm fairly low in the pecking-order, I think, but yes, people have been saying very nice things about me. A lot of people have very good memories of stuff I've done or been involved with, and it's certainly got me, the messages and communications."

He and the band are trying to cram in as much as time will allow. The deadline, Wilko says, "is when I start getting sick. We don't quite know when it's going to be. I think I'm going to be okay for the tour." Several tracks have been put down for a new studio album – "I'm confident we'll have an album of some kind before too long."

Wilko accepts his time might be short, but several people have been suggesting possible remedies. "My manager, Rob, has been fielding most of this stuff. One guy came up to me in the street the other day and said his friend had invented this machine for curing cancer. You plug it in your earhole or something, and all the cancer comes out. I just said, 'Thanks very much, I think I'll give it a miss -"

Wilko Johnson and his band play Glasgow O2 ABC tomorrow.