An Extraordinary Life: John Wetton, R.I.P.


Yesterday got off to a rough start when I learned that John Wetton had died at the age of 67. He was a towering figure on the prog-rock scene because of his time with King Crimson as well as his role in founding two prog supergroups U.K. and Asia. I reconnected with John’s music last year when I bought the three albums recorded by the original Asia after regrouping in 2008. I’m not sure whether Phoenix, Omega, or XXX are my favorite of the group. They’re all that good. FYI, XXX involves neither Mexican beer nor porn: it marked Asia’s 30th anniversary. There is, however, this song about a backstabbing xxx-friend:

In addition to his virtuosity on bass, John was a fabulous singer, and wrote many great songs, especially with his partner-in-crime, Geoff Downes. Geoff posted a moving tribute to his dear friend and closest musical colleague on Facebook.

John Wetton wrote his own epitaph five years ago.

John’s Asia bandmate Carl Palmer chimed in as well:

Bassists and drummers have a special relationship and the Wetton-Palmer team was one of the best. It’s been a brutal chronological year for Carl: he’s the sole survivor of ELP and now this. Condolences, Carl.

Since we’re celebrating John Wetton’s music, let’s continue with the tune that inspired the post title:

There will be more Wettonian music after the break. I’m trying not to eat the whole front page of the blog. Doc might sic the Fuck You Nation on me, after all.

It’s time for a couple of songs from John’s time as the lead singer and bass player for King Crimson. The first song is called Lament. I think Melody was the teevee show they appeared on or some such shit.

Speaking of King Crimson, John posted this sketch of the 1972-74 band by an unknown (to me) artist on his twitter feed:


John formed U.K. after a brief stint with Roxy Music. He took Roxy’s ace fiddler-keyboard player Eddie Jobson along for the ride:

Asia came on the scene during peak early MTV. They surfed the video wave expertly:

John made some fine solo albums as well. He used the title track of this 1997 album as his Twitter handle:

John Wetton and Geoffrey Downes recorded several duo albums. This is a song about mortality, a subject much on my mind:

It’s time for some live Asia: something new and something old in a rocking medley:

Let’s circle back to the post title and conclude this tribute with an acoustic version of An Extraordinary Life:

Album Cover Art Wednesday will return next week with a selection of Asia covers.