King Crimson bass player and vocalist John Wetton, died in his sleep Tuesday night near his hometown of Bournemouth, England. The songwriter was 67 years old.
Manager Martin Darvill announced that the cause was colon cancer. Fellow bandmate, Carl Palmer, from 1980’s rock group Asia, released a statement on Facebook afterwards: “with the passing of my good friend and music collaborator, the world lost another music giant.” He continued stating that his death was “quite a shock,” even though his health had been steadily declining the past weeks.
In addition to King Crimson, Wetton also performed with progressive rock groups such as Uriah Heep and Roxy Music before joining Asia in 1982.
John Kenneth Wetton was born in Willington, Derbyshire, England, on June 12, 1949, and then grew up in Bournemouth. After hearing his brother play the organ in his church, his interest grew in pursuing music as a career.
Upon graduating high school, Wetton came to London in the 1970s, where he jammed with Mogul Thrash and Family, prior to joining King Crimson in 1972. He, alongside guitarist Robert Fripp and former Yes drummer Bill Bruford, can be heard albums like ‘Larks’ Tongues in Aspic’ (1973), ‘Starless and Bible Black’ (1974) and ‘Red’ (1974).
Asia formed in 1981, with Palmer, guitarist Steve Howe and keyboardist Geoff Downes from Yes. The group achieved instant fame upon their release of their debut album ‘Asia’, which sold millions of copies worldwide. Singles like ‘Heat of the Moment’ and ‘Only Time Will Tell’ reached No. 4. and No. 17 on the Billboard charts, respectively.
In 1991 Mr. Wetton left Asia, but reunited with the original group in 2006 and released the album ‘Phoenix’ in 2008.
Mr. Wetton had pulled out of performing with Journey with their U.S. tour starting in March, but he pulled out to have chemotherapy, with the advice from his doctors. Billy Sherwood of Yes is scheduled to take his place.
“[He was] a gentle person…[and an] inspiration,” according to Palmer. He also lost his bandmates Greg Lake and Keith Emerson from Emerson, Lake & Palmer last year in 2016.