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In Memoriam: John Wetton

John Wetton

Sad news to report today: prog rock legend John Wetton has died after a battle with colon cancer. He was 67 years old.

Wetton was born in Willington, Derbyshire but grew up in Bournemouth, where he started his career on bass and vocals with bands like the Palmer-James Group, The Corvettes, Tetrad, Ginger Man, and Mogul Thrash. His big break came in 1972 when he was recruited by guitarist Robert Fripp for the new line-up of King Crimson. He was featured on bass and vocals for the albums Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Starless and Bible Black, and Red before Fripp disbanded the group in 1974.

The breakup didn’t slow Wetton down as he went on tour with Roxy Music and made two albums with Uriah Heep. In 1977, he formed the band U.K. with drummer Bill Bruford, keyboardist Eddie Jobson, and guitarist Allan Holdsworth. After a shakeup, the band released two albums before splitting themselves.

This led to Wetton forming the rock supergroup Asia, which also featured Yes members Geoffrey Downes and Steve Howe with Emerson, Lake & Palmer drummer Carl Palmer. The band scored a huge hit on their debut album with “Heat of the Moment.” The band had several lineup changes, but Wetton rejoined in 2006 with the original lineup.

“John had been planning to tour with ASIA for the band’s forthcoming US arena tour with Journey and following the success of his solo Studio Recordings Anthology, to continue working on the ongoing re-issue programme of his solo albums, via his own Primary Purpose label,” Wetton’s website states. “The very last studio song of John Wetton’s career was the closing track on the most recent and indeed final ASIA album ‘Gravitas’ and included the profound lyrics ‘Think the best of me, till we meet again.’”

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of John Wetton.