Farewell John Wetton

John Wetton

Another of the major figures of progressive rock has left us; John Wetton passed away yesterday after a long illness. My Twitter feed was flooded with tributes both from fans and from fellow musicians. I never met him myself, but a lot of people I know knew him personally, and he was much loved as a person as well as a musician.

John Wetton is of course best known for King Crimson in the 1970s and Asia in the 1980s. The three albums he recorded with King Crimson, “Larks Tongues in Aspic”, “Starless and Bible Black” and “Red” remain landmarks in the progressive rock canon, pushing the envelope for what a rock band could be with a level of improvisation previously only seen in jazz, then switching gears with gorgeous elegaic ballads. “Starless”, which closes “Red” remains on of the greatest pieces of rock music ever recorded.

The supergroup Asia were an altogether different beast, sometimes dismissed as too commercial by genre purists, their polished sound emphasising Wetton’s songwriting and soaring voice, and that self-titled d├ębut remains a classic. And then there were all the other bands over the years, Family, the short-lived UK, and stints with Roxy Music and Uriah Heep.

So farewell John, and thanks for all the music. His bandmate in Asia, Geoff Downes has asked us all to listen this song in his memory.

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3 Responses to Farewell John Wetton

  1. Steve says:

    John also replaced Martin Turner in Wishbone Ash in 1980. He only stayed for one album. After Martin left, the band should really have made John the main lead vocalist and a significant contributor to the song writing. But neither thing happened and they made a really poor album (Number The Brave), apart from a couple of really good songs (the title track and Underground).

  2. Tim Hall says:

    I’d forgotten he was briefly in Wishbone Ash.

  3. Steve says:

    I did actually see the band on the Number The Brave tour, think it was Hammersmith Odeon. Claire Hamill was helping out with some vocals and Trevor Bolder had replaced John Wetton on bass. Looking back, it was not a surprise that John quickly decided to move on.