John Wetton -

John Wetton Biography

Prog - Great Britain

John Wetton discography

John Wetton biography

John Wetton, a man who has been in more bands than most of us have had hot dinners, was born in Derby, England on 12th June 1949. He is the youngest of two boys, both of whom have persued their own very different musical careers - John in rock and his brother in the world of classical church music. When John was 12, the family moved to Bournemouth. During his school years, he played in several Shadows and Beatles-style groups, eventually getting onto the local R&B circuit with the Palmer-James Group. It was about this time that he met with Robert Fripp, who would play such a vital role in his career later. After college, John toured Rumania backing Helen Shapiro! This earned him enough money to buy a decent Fender Precision Bass for 35 pounds. His next band was Tetrad, another group local to Bournemouth, but he soon decided to leave them and move to London. He stayed a short while in a band named Splinter, and then quit to join James Litherland's Brotherhood, by September 1969. The band soon changed their name to Mogul Thrash, and John made his first album with them. They were a rough-edged R&B outfit, with brass section, but were much more popular on the continent than in Britain. They get involved with a legal problem with their management, and the only way to extricate themselves was for the band to split up.
John then spent some time doing session work, earning enough to buy a ticket to Los Angeles. He only stayed a couple of months, and immediately on his return to London, he was called and asked to join Family. He stayed for two albums, but felt restricted. He was never going to be lead vocalist with Roger Chapman around; likewise, the writing core of the group did not extend to him. When Robert Fripp offered him a job in King Crimson, it was too good to refuse. During his two years with the band, King Crimson enjoyed critical acclaim and success. They recorded four albums, but by September '74, Fripp decided to put the band on ice. John had been socialising a lot with Roxy Music, and joined when an opening for bass player turned up. The band promoted Country Life and toured the UK, Europe and America. John was a casual member of the band, and did not feel financially settled. In March '75, he decided to join the band Uriah Heep after they had just fired bassist Gary Thain. He played on two albums, but his presence did nothing to stem internal unrest in the band. Everyone hated each other, and so by August '76, he left before it all got unpleasant. By October of the same year, he was back with Bryan Ferry's Band, who toured UK, Europe, Japan and the USA. But again, the problems associated with playing in someone else's band began to resurface. By July '77, John was anxious to put together a band, and having contacted ex-Crimson drummer Bill Bruford, they teemed up with Eddie Jobson and Allan Holdsworth to form UK. They recorded an eponymous album, and did a couple of tours of the USA. In Novmember '78 Bruford and Holdsworth left to form Bruford. Terry Bozzio was brought in as replacement, and the band continued as a trio. Another two albums, but John and Eddie had different ideas about the direction the band should take. They finished a tour and decided to take a six month break. John got stuck into solo projects, Jack-Knife and Caught In The Crossfire. But by the end of 1980, he was talking to Brian Lane about forming another band. He moved his management, publishing and recording from EG to Brian Lane. He introduced John to ex-Yes members, Steve Howe and Geoff Downes. And thus, in January '81, was born Asia, the first "supergroup" of the '80's. With their collective experience, they produced a monster album debut album. Asia, was the biggest selling album in the U.S. in 1982, staying at Number One in the US ablum charts for 9 weeks. It turned gold and platinum on every continent. After the band's second LP, Aplha, Steve Howe quit and was replaced by Mandy Meyer on guitar for their third offering, Astra, in 1985. For a couple of years, Asia was put on hiatus, and John completed two solo projects. The first was a compilation King's Road 1972-1980, taken from his years at EG records. The second was a new album - Wetton/Manzanera - with old friend Phil Manzanera, whom he first met in Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry's band. In 1990, a forth Asia album was released, Then & Now, which contained songs from the band's first three LPs (Then) and several new songs (Now). This time, the guitar duties were shared by Steve Lukather, Ron Komie, Scott Gorham and Mandy Meyer, but the familiar faces of Wetton, Downes and Palmer were still seen smiling from the record sleeve. In November '90, the threesome teamed up with Pat Thrall for two sell-out gigs in Moscow's Olympijski stadium. The shows were recorded, and released in '91. They also shot a video and made a full-length concert film. John then decided he needed a new direction, and left the band. It still continues today under the direction of Geoff Downes, and they have just released a new work, Arena.

John decided to move to California, with a new management company, record company, and producer, Ron Nevison. In 1994, he released another solo album, Battle Lines . During his tour of the far east in the Autumn of '94, he recorded some shows and this was released in 1995 as the album Chasing The Dragon. And in 1995, he recorded a series of purely acoustic versions of many of the old favourites, while on tour in the USA. This was released as Akustika - Live In Amerika , on the Blueprint label. The album he made with friend Phil Manzanera has just been rereleased in the UK by Voiceprint after a long period of being unavailable. His next album was called Arkangel , and other live CDs have followed. At the beginning of 2000, after the plans to reunite Asia fell through, John teamed up with former Asia drummer Carl Palmer, keyboardist John Young (who co-wrote material for the Battle Lines release) and JW Band's guitarist Dave Kilminster to form an exciting new group by the name of QANGO. They performed two mini tours (see the tour photos page) and have released a limited edition live album. At the end of 2000, John's latest solo offering, Welcome To Heaven was released in Japan. See the great promotional flyer which was available in Japan. The album will see the light of day in other territories in 2001, but will likely be called Sinister outside of Japan. Some touring is planned to promote the record. Follow the link for the latest news on what John is up to. If you are confused about who was in what band with John, follow the link for my "Bandography" page. John's official Autobiography, "My Own Time" is written by Kim Dancha and is published by Northern Line Publishers.