Rock music legend John Wetton sadly passed away in the early hours of this morning (Tuesday, January 31) after a long and courageous battle against colon cancer.
John rose to fame with KING CRIMSON in the early ’70s during the iconic “Red” era and later formed the band UK. In the early 1980s, he was a founder member of supergroup ASIA which was his biggest commercial success. The band’s 1982 self-titled debut album was the biggest-selling album in the world that year and gave fans and mainstream radio the mega-hit “Heat Of The Moment”.
John also enjoyed a successful solo career, including the seminal album “Battle Lines”, and formed ICON with ASIA bandmate Geoff Downes. In 2006, the original lineup of ASIA reformed and toured the world several times to promote four new studio albums.
John had been planning to tour with ASIA for the band’s forthcoming U.S. arena tour with JOURNEY and, following the success of his solo “Studio Recordings Anthology”, to continue working on the ongoing re-issue program of his solo albums, via his own Primary Purpose label.
John valued his over 11 years of sobriety and volunteered time in fellowship with other alcoholics to share his experience, strength and hope with them.
John is survived by his recently wed wife Lisa and 18-year-old son Dylan, brother Robert and mother Peggy.
The very last studio song of 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.”
Downes said in a statement: “It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I have to report we have lost my dearest friend, brother, bandmate and long term musical collaborator John Wetton, who has passed away after a long and tenacious battle with cancer. He will be remembered as one of the world’s finest musical talents, and I for one of many was wholly blessed by his influence. It was a massive privilege for me to have worked with this genius so closely on our numerous projects together over the years. His bass playing was revolutionary. His voice was from the gods. His compositions — out of this world. His sense of melody and harmony — unreal. He was literally a ‘special one’.
“But John was much more than a gigantic and unique musical talent. He was a supremely intelligent man, marked with his great observations and wisdom about life; all couched within his wicked sense of humor. The wit was dark and deep, only fully perceptible to those on his same wavelength. I was fortunate enough to be able to be on that wavelength, and discover that we had much in common. Many of his personal life experiences were reflected in his lyrical contributions to the songs. His heart was always in the music. That was John, through and through. It was always about — the music.
“As a person, he was fiercely loyal, loving and generous, particularly to those he cared about. But he could be as stubborn as a mule or as gracious as a nobleman, depending on the mood that grabbed him on any particular day. There were some who couldn’t read his brilliant mind and complex personality. Some found him charming, others infuriating. But however you found John, there was no denying his rare talent as a musician and songwriter was second to none.
“Both of us having been brought up with similar backgrounds in provincial England, we shared a love of many things — sport, and in particular — football, English church music, current affairs, comedy, literature, you name it…. pretty much everything that two kids from the sticks were exposed to in our youth.