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John Wetton

John Wetton playing bass live
Background information
Birth name John Kenneth Wetton
Born 12 June 1949 (1949-06-12) (age 60)
Willington, Derby, England
Genres Progressive rock, hard rock, pop rock
Occupations Singer-songwriter, musician, producer
Instruments Bass, vocals, guitar, keyboards
Years active 1965–present
Labels E.G. Records
Mesa Records
Eclipse Records
Eagle Records
Avalon Records
Giant Electric Pea
Frontiers Records
Voiceprint Records
Associated acts Mogul Thrash, Family, King Crimson, Roxy Music, Uriah Heep, UK, Wishbone Ash, Asia, Phenomena, Renaissance, Qango, Brian Eno
Website Official website

John Kenneth Wetton (born 12 June 1949) is an English bassist, guitarist, keyboardist, singer and songwriter. He was born in Willington, Derbyshire and grew up in Bournemouth, Dorset. He has been a professional musician since the late 1960s. He initially rose to fame in progressive rock with bands such as Mogul Thrash, Family, King Crimson, Roxy Music/Bryan Ferry, Uriah Heep, UK, and Wishbone Ash. His biggest commercial success was as the frontman and principal songwriter of the supergroup Asia. Their self-titled debut album sold 8 million copies worldwide and was Billboard magazine's #1 album of 1982. Multi-talented, Wetton is best known for his rich baritone vocals.



Wetton achieved his bass guitar sound utilising a 1961 Fender Precision Bass amplified through tubes. This style and approach was particularly evident during his stint with King Crimson from 1972 until 1974. Known initially for his bass guitar sound, Wetton's vocal and songwriting abilities garnered attention with his work in the band Asia in the early 1980s. Recorded highlights of Wetton's career include King Crimson's Larks' Tongues In Aspic (1973), Starless and Bible Black (1974), Red (1974), UK's self-titled debut (1978) (reuniting the King Crimson rhythm section of Wetton and Bill Bruford) and Asia's self-titled debut (1982), the last being the biggest seller of his career. In 1986 he also contributed to Phenomena II and had a #1 hit with the single "Did It All For Love" in South America. Since the early 1990s, Wetton has released several solo albums, including studio albums Voice Mail/Battle Lines, Arkangel, Sinister/Welcome to Heaven and Rock of Faith, and a number of live recordings from his solo tours around the world. Wetton also created the Icon project with fellow Asia bandmate Geoff Downes. The duo have recorded three studio albums of original material (ICON, ICON II/Rubicon and Icon 3) and live releases.

Wetton has done extensive work as a session musician with acts such as Brian Eno, Bryan Ferry and Phil Manzanera.[1] Through his connection with George Martin, Wetton also played bass on Only Visiting This Planet by Larry Norman, recorded in 1972 and produced by Martin. The album has been voted "The Best Contemporary Christian Album of All Time" by Contemporary Christian Music magazine.[2] He also played bass on the 1973 Malcolm and Alwyn gospel beat music album Fool's Wisdom, another Larry Norman connection.

Wetton rejoined the other original members of Asia (Downes, Steve Howe and Carl Palmer) in early 2006 to announce a 25th anniversary world tour. This line-up performed a series of dates in the United States in September 2006, and in the United Kingdom in November/December 2006. The band also spent much of 2007 on the road, with shows in North and South America, Europe and Asia. A new Asia studio album titled Phoenix, the original band's first since 1983's Alpha, was released in April 2008 and peaked at #73 on the North American Top 200 albums charts.[3]

Personal life

Wetton has struggled with alcoholism in the past. While on tour in 1983, Asia replaced him with bassist and vocalist Greg Lake (previously of Emerson, Lake & Palmer and also a King Crimson alumnus), because of his drinking problem. Wetton has been sober since June 2005.[4]

In August 2007 Wetton underwent heart surgery which placed the remainder of Asia's 2007 tour and recording plans on hold until he recovered. The band, including Wetton, released their new album entitled Phoenix worldwide in April 2008. Artist Roger Dean was commissioned to create the cover art. This release was followed by a world tour.

Wetton is left-handed but plays bass and guitar right-handed.[citation needed]


With Mogul Thrash
  • Mogul Thrash, 1971
With Gordon Haskell
  • It Is and It Isn't, 1971
With Family
With Larry Norman
With Malcolm and Alwyn
  • Fool's Wisdom, 1973
With King Crimson
With Bryan Ferry
With Roxy Music
With Peter Banks
  • Two Sides of Peter Banks, 1973
With Uriah Heep
With UK
With Wishbone Ash
With Asia
  • Asia, 1982; #1 US, #15 JP
  • Alpha, 1983; #6 US, #4 JP
  • Astra, 1985; #67 US, #15 JP
  • Then & Now, 1990; #114 US, #24 JP
  • Live in Moscow, 1990
  • The Very Best of Asia: Heat of the Moment (1982-1990), 2000
  • Definitive Collection, 2006; #183 US
  • Fantasia: Live in Tokyo, 2007
  • Phoenix, 2008 #73 US #28 JP
With Steve Hackett
Solo albums
With Phil Manzanera
  • Diamond Head, 1975
  • K Scope, 1978
  • Wetton Manzanera, 1987, Geffen Records
With Geoff Downes
  • Wetton Downes (Demo Collection), 2001, Stallion Records/E1 Music
  • Icon, 2005, Frontiers Records/UMe Digital (US)
  • Acoustic TV Broadcast, 2006, Frontiers Records
  • Icon II: Rubicon, 2006, Frontiers Records
  • Icon 3, 2009, Frontiers Records
  • Heat of the Moment '05 (with Geoff Downes), 2005, Frontiers Records
Live albums
  • Chasing the Dragon, 1995, Eclipse Records
  • Akustika, 1996, Blueprint Records
  • Hazy Monet Live in New York, 1998, Blueprint Records
  • Live in Tokyo, 1998, Blueprint Records
  • Sub Rosa Live in Japan, 1998, Blueprint Records
  • Nomansland Live in Poland, 1999, Giant Electric Pea Records
  • Live in Argentina, 2002, Blueprint Records
  • Live in Stockholm 1998, 2003, Blueprint Records
  • Live in Osaka, 2003, Blueprint Records
  • Live in the Underworld, 2003, Classic Rock Legends
  • One Way or Another (with Ken Hensley), 2003, Classic Rock Legends
  • Amorata, 2004, Metal Mind Records


External links

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