One of the most respected talents in progressive music clears the air about his life and career. Includes rare photos from John's personal collection, a complete discography, a chronological history of bands, and a foreward by John himself.
To whet your appetite, here are some excerpts from various sections of the book.
That 'feeling' began to take shape as John finished up the Bandstand album with Family, when Robert called to offer John a job in King Crimson......Despite the band's reputation at the time, John turned down Robert's initial offer to join King Crimson. "I realized at the time that I was being asked in as an ally of Robert's to even up the odds a bit, because the other three members (Mel Collins, Ian Wallace and Boz Burrell) had formed a cartel against Robert and he was in a corner. The leader of the band was against the ropes and he was feeling it. When he called me, it was to get a like-minded friend into the band to even up the teams a little bit. I didn't want to join under those circumstances, and I said that. I told Robert, 'You know, this probably isn't the right time.' " So John carried on with Family and finished work on Bandstand, only to cross paths with Fripp once again. Robert called John and asked to drop by his apartment in Earl's Court. During the visit, Robert mentioned that he was considering forming an entirely new band with another musician who lived in Earl's Court, a drummer named Bill Bruford.
There had been an aborted attempt at a band in 1977 with Wetton, Bruford, and Rick Wakeman. "It was good, actually. It was very good. Some of the music we were playing was excellent. But Rick didn't want it to happen, and when there's only three of you and one person doesn't want it to happen, then it isn't going to fly. It's something that Bill has constantly downplayed, and I've never heard Rick talk about it at all, but it happened. We spent six weeks of our lives doing it and even had photographs done on the set of a James Bond movie. One of the songs I took out of it was 'Thirty Years.' We played that vaguely. On of the songs that Bill took in was 'Beelzebub,' and he took it out with him again. And apart from that, I don't know of any of the material that's ever surfaced, but then I haven't listened to that many Rick Wakeman albums."
In his 1988 book, When In Doubt, Roll!, Bill Bruford recalled how the trio fell apart. "Mercifully, A&M Records was unwilling to let its 'star,' Wakeman, walk off with a used, slightly soiled King Crimson rhythm section, and the idea failed."
When Rick backed out, Bill and John decided to carry on once again and create something bigger. The premise was that John would bring in a musician of his choice, and Bill would do the same. So John called upon Eddie Jobson and Bill got guitarist Allan Holdsworth, and that brought U.K. into existence.
In early 1981, John flew to Los Angeles to meet with John Kalodner to get something together. Kalodner had an idea of pairing Wetton with a South African guitarist looking for a new start in his career, Trevor Rabin. The two worked together for a brief time, but, as Wetton remembers, something just didn't click. A more solid foundation was formed when Brian Lane brought Steve How into the fold, fresh from Yes, but the rest of the potential lineup was still very much up in the air. At one time, Yes druymmer Alan White's name came up. According to John, Alan just never showed up. "It [the Asia line-up] went through permutations of which the only two constants were myself and Steve. The protagonist and the antagonist. We were actually the only two at that point, and Brian Lane and John Kalodner. That was the group. And then Carl [Palmer] was cemented firmly into place. And Geoff [Downes] was, in fact, the last one to join. Geoff was really an unknown quantity to me, but I saw a great deal of potential in his approach to the keyboard, which was less of a virtuoso, but more into the textures and quite modern sound with computers, and his writing. I thought this was actually a very good way for us to go.
John and Jill at home in Surry, England 1996
My Own Time - The Authorized Biography of John Wetton ....Book $19.95
To find John's music (and that's what it's all about) check out our Asian Armada page and our Text Catalogs.
Return to Wetton on the New Label Page