John Wetton, the singer and bassist for Asia and many other bands, has passed away at the age of 67 after a battle with cancer.
Wetton's Asia bandmate Geoff Downes broke the news early Tuesday (January 31), tweeting "Dear all, I am sorry to be the bearer of the very sad news that my dearest friend, bandmate and co-writer John Wetton has passed away...A sad day indeed."
Earlier this month Wetton had dropped out of all Asia shows through April 4, including next month's Yes-hosted Cruise To The Edge and dates opening for Journey. Wetton was diagnosed with cancer last May and was slated to begin a new chemotherapy treatment which rendered him unable to fly.
Asia drummer Carl Palmer issued a statement saying, "With the passing of my good friend and musical collaborator, John Wetton, the world loses yet another musical giant. John was a gentle person who created some of the most lasting melodies and lyrics in modern popular music. As a musician, he was both brave and innovative, with a voice that took the music of ASIA to the top of the charts around the world. His ability to triumph over alcohol abuse made him an inspiration to many who have also fought that battle. For those of us who knew him and worked with him, his valiant struggle against cancer was a further inspiration. I will miss his talent, his sense of humor and his infectious smile. May you ride easy, my old friend."
A native of Willington, Derbyshire in England, Wetton started in the band Mogul Trash and was part of Family, King Crimson, Roxy Music, Uriah Heep and Wishbone Ash. He was best-known, however, with Asia, whose self-titled 1982 debut album sold more than eight million copies worldwide.
Wetton also released six solo albums, the latest of which -- Raised In Captivity -- came out during 2011. His place in Asia was taken temporarily by Billy Sherwood, who also replaced the late Chris Squire in Yes. There's no word yet on Asia's plans moving forward.
Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.