JOHN WETTON,
1949-2017

Singer/bassist John Wetton, a prog-rock legend who played in King Crimson, Bryan Ferry, Asia and Family during their prime periods, died Tuesday after a long battle with colon cancer. He was 67.

Having anchored landmark albums such as King Crimson’s Larks Tongue in Aspic and Starless and Bible Black in the 1970s, Wetton achieved greater commercial success with U.K. and Asia as bassist and lead singer. Since 1980, he has released more than two dozen studio and live albums, at times working with Asia bandmate Geoff Downes and Roxy Music’s Phil Manzanera.

In early January ,Wetton had to drop out of the first leg of a Journey-Asia on doctors’ orders. He said he expected to join the group later in the year.

Raised in Bournemouth, England, where he was active in numerous local bands, he joined Family in 1971, appearing on their albums Fearless and Bandstand, leaving after Robert Fripp asked him to join a newly reconvened version of King Crimson; it is often referred to as “the Red lineup.” It would end by 1975.

Wetton was active in side projects at the time, recording with Brian Eno, Manzanera, Uriah Heep and Ferry, and touring with Roxy Music in 1975.

After Crimson disbanded, Wetton and Crimson drummer Bill Bruford formed U.K. with guitarist Allan Holdsworth, an early prog-rock supergroup. Like Crimson, the band would go through lineup changes, release two albums that had moderate success, and then a hiatus that became permanent.

In 1980, the year Wetton started recording solo albums, the then-new Geffen Records wanted to assemble a prog-rock Fab Four, gathering Wetton, ELP drummer Carl Palmer, YesSteve Howe and The Buggles’ Geoff Downes. Their greatest success was with their debut album, which hit #1, and “Heat of the Moment,” a Top Five single in 1982.

Wetton would leave the band only to return twice before Asia ended in 1991. Asia reunited for a tour in 2006 that was interrupted when Wetton required heart surgery. The band toured and recorded again in 2008 and 2012.

Palmer tweeted “With the passing of my good friend and musical collaborator, John Wetton, the world loses yet another musical giant.”

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