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John Wetton (1949 - 2017)

Getty / Ben Pruchnie

John Wetton (1949 - 2017)

John Wetton, the English musician who played bass guitar and fronted the 1980s progressive-rock supergroup Asia, died Jan. 31, 2017, of colon cancer in Bournemouth, England, according to multiple news sources. He was 67.

Wetton had planned to play with his band on a cruise later this year, according to a personal statement on his official website. Because of health reasons, however, he had to bow out, he said Jan. 11.

"I am disappointed to announce that, on the advice of my medical team, I have to withdraw from Cruise to the Edge, and from the first leg of the Journey tour, March 15 - April 4.

"I will soon be starting a new medical chemotherapy procedure, under which I will not be able to fly."


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Wetton was born June 12, 1949, in Derbyshire, England. After growing up in Bournemouth, he played in a number of small bands until he met Robert Fripp and joined his King Crimson band. The stint lasted two years. Wetton went on to tour with Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music, and he released his debut solo album, "Caught in the Crossfire," in 1980.

The following year, Wetton began working and writing with Steve Howe, the former guitarist for Yes. They soon formed the supergroup Asia along with keyboardist Geoff Downes, also of Yes, and drummer Carl Palmer of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Their eponymous 1982 debut album reached No. 1 in a number of countries, selling more than 10 million copies worldwide. One of their most popular songs, "Heat of the Moment," reached No. 1 on Billboard's Album Rock Tracks chart, remaining there for six weeks.

After leaving Asia in 1983, Wetton resumed his solo career, releasing more than a dozen studio and live albums. Asia's original lineup reunited in 2006, releasing three albums: "Phoenix" (2008), "Omega" (2010), and "XXX" (2012).

Wetton also was a sought-after session player, recording with Ferry, Bryan Eno, and Phil Manzanera, among others.

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