John Wetton, Asia Frontman, Dies at 67

Prog-rock mainstay’s many credits included King Crimson and Uriah Heep

John Wetton, the progressive-rock bassist whose numerous credits include fronting King Crimson and the supergroup Asia, has died, his former bandmate Geoff Downes said Tuesday. He was 67.

Downes said that Wetton died “after a long and tenacious battle with cancer.”

“It is with great sadness and a heavy heart, that I have to report we have lost my dearest friend, brother, bandmate and long term musical collaborator, John Wetton,” Downes said on Facebook. “He will be remembered as one of the world’s finest musical talents, and I for one of many was wholly blessed by his influence. It was a massive privilege for me to have worked with this genius so closely on our numerous projects together over the years.”

A mainstay in the prog-rock scene, Wetton boasted credits including King Crimson, Roxy Music, Uriah Heep and Wishbone Ash.

Wetton’s biggest musical success, however, would com as the frontman of ’80s supergroup Asia, which, in addition to Wetton and Yes keyboardist Geoff Downes, included Yes guitarist Steve Howe and Emerson, Lake & Palmer drummer Carl Palmer. Releasing their self-titled debut album in 1982, the group enjoyed hit with songs including “Heat of the Moment” and “Only Time Will Tell.”

Wetton departed the band in 1983 under murky circumstances, with the band stating that Wetton had quit and Wetton saying that he had been fired.

He would later reunite with Downes in the early 2000s to form the group iCon, with a reunion of the original Asia lineup taking place in 2006.