I’m back! I’ve been away from the bloggy thing here for awhile, and certainly much longer than anticipated, but with just days now before the last STUCK IN THE 80s show airing on WMPG community radio in Portland, Maine, finishing up a nearly 21-year-old radio show has been crazier than expected! Lots more still to do, and all apologies for being away from the blog for awhile. “Life happens!”
On January 31, 2017, we lost John Wetton, a former member of King Crimson, Uriah Heep and more, and was the voice of the Rock “supergroup,” Asia. He was a member of Asia until the day he died, at age 67. I’ve been wanting to do this blog post for over a week, because John’s work with Asia really meant a lot to me back in 1982 and 1983.
The band’s self-titled monster debut album, ASIA, was the biggest album in the U.S. for all of 1982. And I loved it from the start. Sizzling and extraordinary guitar work from Steve Howe (of Yes), amazing keyboards and piano from Geoff Downes (of Yes and The Buggles), and spectacular drumming by Carl Palmer (of Emerson, Lake and Palmer) were all great compliments to John Wetton’s bass talents and strong, convincing vocals.
John Wetton was also a principal songwriter for Asia, and with each song, you could hear the passion in his voice. ASIA was one of my favorite albums of the 80s, and remains an all-time favorite. Though their sophomore effort, 1983’s ALPHA, wasn’t well-received by critics and didn’t fare as well as its predecessor (though it was certified Platinum), I really enjoyed the album.
Frequent writing collaborators John Wetton and Geoffrey Downes co-wrote all but one of the songs on the album, and one of my favorite cuts on ALPHA was the gem, “My Own Time (I’ll Do What I Want).” Though the song is primarily about surviving romantic relationships that didn’t work out, I see a bit of my own life – my future broadcasting life – in the lyrics of this song (with no disrespect intended to my wonderful second home for more than 20 years, WMPG):
“Walking through the snow kicking my heels / Seems that sunlight never felt so good before / Bet you really don’t know how it feels / I don’t have to answer to anyone no more…Nothing to show, but nothing to lose / I’m on my own…Faith in myself / Gives me the strength to carry on / I’ll do what to anyway / I’ll do what I want and I’ll do it in / My Own Time…”
Original members John Wetton, Geoff Downes and Carl Palmer were the beating heart of Asia for many of the past 35 years. Asia was supposed to perform on a bill with Journey for 12 dates this year, but about three weeks before he sadly died of colon cancer, John announced that due to receiving another round of chemotherapy, he would not be able to perform on those 12 dates.
Asia released 14 studio albums through 2014, and though I kinda lost touch with their music after their third album, 1985’s ASTRA, I never forgot the joy I had from listening to those first two Asia albums, and still do. John Wetton was a proud member of Asia right through to the end. And John certainly did what he wanted and did it in his own time…
R.I.P. John, and many thanks. You’ll be missed…