Saturday, April 20, 2024

John Wetton’s Extraordinary Life

On June 12th it would have been the late John Wetton’s 70th birthday and to commemorate the occasion a unique box set collection of his solo albums featuring a lavish hardback book and more has been announced, going under the apt title of An Extraordinary Life.

Wetton’s long and productive career saw him renowned in the roles of singer, bass player and songwriter and more. In his time he performed and recorded with a number of international acts including Family, Roxy Music, King Crimson, Uriah Heep, Wishbone Ash, UK and of course as co-founder of the super group Asia.

The collection will be titled An Extraordinary Life and feature the albums Caught In The Crossfire, Battle Lines, Arkangel, Sinister, Rock Of Faith and Raised In Captivity and has the full support of John Wetton’s wife, Lisa, and his son, Dylan, who are wholly involved with compiling the contents. Since his passing in January 2017, family, friends and management have been working on finding a fitting tribute and this labour of love will see completion this year.

Lisa Wetton said: “When you open your box set for the first time, you will know that every person involved with its creation was touched deeply by John Wetton. You will be playing the music that revealed his personal life story, and you will be perpetuating a legacy that was meant to be a shining light for everyone. The physical light may have flickered out on January 31, 2017, but there is an extra radiant star aglow in the firmament today. It is my hope that when you listen, you will still feel the warmth from that light, and hear the Lion roar for generations to come.”

While Dylan Wetton remarked:“This is helping me come to terms with the loss of my Dad, and is opening my eyes to his genius.  It is truly a labour of love.”

The set will include definitive, remastered editions of each of his six solo albums, with bonus tracks and artwork selected by John towards the end of his lifetime, and in some cases expanded to two discs. The coffee table book that will accompany the collection was written by journalist Nick Shilton, a friend of the musician.  To this end, dozens of John’s collaborators, peers and associates, both in and out of the music business, as well as friends from his childhood and through all eras of his career, have been interviewed, collecting a multitude of exclusive, poignant and wonderful stories along the way. It will also feature high resolution video tributes as well as other unique bonus material.

Further to this, The Official John Wetton website will launch a dedicated An Extraordinary Life webpage as an ever-evolving digital gathering place for fans and Ricky Nelson has been involved in two other special events to commemorate Wetton.

Exactly 38 years after the event first took place on June 12, 1981, a never-before-heard fly-on-the-wall recording of an early Asia rehearsal, has been released via Youtube, featuring a collage slide-show of rare photos of the musician throughout the decades. Nelson has also curated a special video recording of  John Wetton’s last ever tour singing Asia songs, with the Rock Meets Classic arena tour in March 2015, and features what has been described as “One of his finest ever versions of ‘The Smile Has Left Your Eyes’.  This can be found The Official John Wetton Twitter Page while the Youtube video can be watched right her at RAMzine and you’re asked to guess what the song morphed into!

Coinciding with all this, Asia begins a 28 date USA tour as special guests of Yes on their Royal Affair Tour, performing many of the hit songs Wetton co-wrote.  This new line-up features original members Carl Palmer and Geoff Downes, new bass player Billy Sherwood, Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal on guitar and include special guest appearances by Steve Howe. The shows will also feature performances by Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy, The Moody Blues’ John Lodge, and an exhibition of artwork by John Wetton’s great friend Roger Dean, including iconic Asia cover art.

An Extraordinary Life will initially be exclusively available via Burning Shed ahead of a wider scale retail release.


Paul H Birch
Paul H Birch
RAMzine Senior Writer - Writer of fiction, faction and fact, has edited several newsstand magazines. He declares himself a hack for hire but refuses to compromise on the subject of music.

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