John Wetton

John Wetton (12 June 1949 - 31 January 2017)

In the aftermath of King Crimson’s implosion in 1974, John Wetton admitted that he didn’t quite know what to do with himself. “I had to completely change tack. I just thought I’d tread water for a couple of years. I think Bill did exactly the same thing. He went to Genesis and I went to Roxy Music ... it had thrown my plan into disarray.”

In 1978, he co-founded UK with Bill Bruford, Eddie Jobson and Allan Holdsworth, their eponymous debut album selling 250,000 copies. After Bruford and Holdsworth were ousted due to musical differences, UK recruited former Frank Zappa drummer Terry Bozzio to release Danger Money and the live album Night After Night in 1979 however the band soon dissolved thereafter.
John's next band project was Asia with Carl Palmer, Geoff Downes and Steve Howe. The global success of the group caught everyone in the band by surprise. Wetton recalls that executives at Geffen Records were decidedly underwhelmed. “I was in Los Angeles and they were looking at the record. They didn’t like the cover, hated the logo and said they couldn’t hear anything commercial on the thing. Of course, it took off and sold somewhere in the nine million ballpark. I remember Heat Of The Moment was on a compilation album that sold four million in Germany alone!”

The success came with a price tag, though, and Wetton’s drinking soon got the better of him. Speaking to Classic Rock Revisited in 2012, Wetton talked about his battle with alcoholism and how it had marred his career and his time with Asia. “I’m a dyed-in-the-wool alcoholic, but I don’t drink these days. All I can tell you is that people would say ‘Oh it was the pressure’, but no it wasn’t, it was just the course of that particular illness." The love and support of a good woman, his soulmate American musician Lisa Nojaim, meant his later years were productive and filled with a giddy happiness, despite the fact he needed emergency heart surgery in 2007 – about which he wrote An Extraordinary Life from Asia’s aptly named Phoenix, released in 2008.
In 2014, Wetton was diagnosed with cancer and, after a period that included contracting sepsis, he died on 31 January 2017, just a few days after marrying Lisa.

On the news of John’s passing, Robert Fripp said: “During the past decade, JW became a hero of mine, courageous and exemplary in dealing and speaking frankly of his alcoholism. Visiting John during not-so-good times, and then good times, we became closer than in the three previous decades; John’s conversation was wonderfully clear, honest, positive, encouraging. And then Lisa. Hooray! to whom thank you for making my friend a happy man.”
John left behind a solo career that saw over 20 albums released under his name and numerous collaborations that included stints with Phil Manzanera, Steve Hackett, Wishbone Ash and Icon, his project with Geoff Downes.

John Wetton with King Crimson
Larks' Tongues In Aspic
Starless And Bible Black
Larks' Tongues In Aspic (The Complete Recordings)
The Road To Red