Asia Autographs -- Rest in Peace John Wetton

I found out a musician died this morning, and two frustrating autograph stories involving him, popped into my brain.

John Wetton, the 67 year old bassist and singer, is the one that passed away. They say it was related to colon cancer, but he had problems in the past with drinking.

The prog rock fans know him for his time with King Crimson. Me and Steve Carell’s character from 40 Year Old Virgin -- know him as the singer of Asia (hits: Only Time Will Tell, Heat of the Moment, Sole Survivor).

Asia was a supergroup, that had Steve Howe from Yes, Carl Palmer from Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and keyboardist Geoff Downes of Yes and The Buggles. Their debut album went to number one all over the world, and they sold out arenas everywhere.

Here’s the first frustrating thing that happened regarding his autograph. I used to always buy things from the RR Auctions. Yet for some reason, I didn’t always read the descriptions properly. When I was late to one of their auctions, and it had only a few days left, I quickly looked at all the items up for bid. I saw they had an electric guitar signed by Asia, and nobody had bid on it. I jumped at the chance and bid the minimum of $200. Imagine my surprise when it arrived, and it wasn’t signed by any of the people I mentioned in the beginning of this...other than John Wetton, the singer/bassist that just passed away. Apparently, I wasn’t aware of the times the band went through various line-up changes, and the guitar was signed by people I didn’t know. Combine that with the fact that I paid something like an 18% charge on top of that, as well as postage, etc….easily make this the most I ever spent for an autograph that is worth the least (and one of the reasons I stopped bidding on auction items...the % you pay on top of the items, really make them a bad value most of the time).

Fast forward to about 8 years ago (give or take). Asia was playing at a venue near me, and I had tickets to the show. It’s always hit-and-miss getting signatures there, but I brought my Asia album, as well as a few other albums the various band members were in (ie Emerson, Lake, and Palmer’s “Brain Salad Surgery”...a terrific classic rock record, but I digest; just ate breakfast).

I saw Palmer walk by the side of the stage, carrying some drum equipment. Me and three other fans asked for his autograph. He rolled his eyes, but walked over, setting the part of his drum set down. He said, “Just one a piece.”

I figured I’d have him sign the Asia album, so when the other band members signed it, it would at least be complete.

I never saw the rest of the band (I would end up getting guitarist Steve Howe backstage at a Yes concert).

When I went to this other area where the band is often given rooms to stay for the night (the venue is also a resort near the beach)...singer John Wetton walked by, appearing a little out of it. There were a different group of fans wanting his autograph (no more than five people), and he signed for one person, but told the rest of us he wouldn’t sign. Strange thing is, the person he signed for, had about 50 different albums (he only signed two records for him).

I ended up running into a guy that worked at a record store I used to go to, and we ended up talking about the old days of buying albums, and various concerts we’ve seen. We were about 20 minutes into our conversation, when Wetton opens the door to his room. He’s wearing a bathrobe, and he shouts at us, “Will you guys shut up already! I’m trying to get some sleep.”

As I apologized, I was so tempted to say, “But….uh….before you go back to bed, can you at least sign my Asia album?”

I didn’t.

Now he’s gone off to the big sleep, and my Asia album will merely be signed by Carl.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Wetton. And by “peace” I mean….hopefully no fans up in heaven are pestering you either.

Views: 514

Tags: Asia, Carl Palmer, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, John Wetton, King Crimson, Yes

Comment by Pete Bendu on February 3, 2017 at 4:37am

Probably my favorite band and favorite singer from my youth. The one show they did in CT back in 1983, John had left the band and was replaced by Greg Lake. Nearly 25 years later the Original 4 members were back together again, and hit one of the CT casinos. I was there and was blown away. After the show I got to meet Geoff, Carl and Steve, but John was nowhere to be found. Before and after the show I had amassed a couple of pieces signed by the entire band thru their website and from friends, but I never got to thank John for all the music.

The biggest laugh I got out of "The 40 Year Old Virgin," was from my family when they saw my ASIA poster on Steve's wall. So it isn't just Josh and Steve Carell....I am right there with ya bud.

John had undergone heart surgery, and had a large tumor removed years ago, he spent months in the hospital fighting sepsis and was just married around Thanksgiving. He may not have been a fan of signing, but I can certainly get over that. Not hearing anymore music from him, really sucks.


Comment by Josh Board on February 3, 2017 at 10:52am

Awesome photos!

Yeah, I always thought them replacing John with Greg Lake is...a pretty good replacement! I mean, you basically saw 2/3 of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. Can't beat that. It's funny with lead singer replacements. I remember being thrilled that Sammy Hagar was the one replacing David Lee Roth. I liked him in Montrose, and some of his solo stuff was cool. Then...Van Halen (errr...Van Hagar)....was so disappointing. A few good songs here and there, but mostly crap.

Comment by Robert Babb on February 3, 2017 at 3:23pm

will be missed for the music!

Comment by Coachgd on February 3, 2017 at 6:57pm

I never got to meet John but got the first two Asia albums signed by 3 of the 4.  I was excited to see that Asia was going to open for Journey this spring and I was going to make the trek up to Toledo to see the band and to try and get John to complete the albums.  Sad to hear of his passing.

Comment by Steve Zarelli on February 5, 2017 at 1:45pm

A favorite from my high school days as well. I saw Asia on the Alpha Tour at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in the summer of 1983. I recall the stage was a giant flashing A shape. Probably seems dated now, but wild at the time.

I have an album sleeve signed by all but Palmer tucked away in my albums somewhere. I haven't looked at it in years. I bought it years ago from a supposed reputable dealer. Guess I should get it checked out.

Another sad loss in the rock world. I was hoping to catch them one more time if they came close enough. 

Comment by Steve Zarelli on February 5, 2017 at 1:47pm

Comment by Steve Zarelli on February 5, 2017 at 1:53pm

Don't Cry video must have come out after Raiders of the Lost Ark. 

Comment by Pete Bendu on February 5, 2017 at 1:55pm

It did, and that video sealed the deal for me, ASIA's new album Alpha was gonna be just as great as their first record.

Records and albums.....I guess I am dating myself. You did start it by dating yourself taking about videos, hahahaha 

Comment by Steve Zarelli on February 5, 2017 at 2:02pm

LOL. Yep... distinctly recall how cool the Heat of the Moment video was in 1982. Actually holds up fairly well. 

Sadly we are probably just old enough to be the dad of many of the participants here. ;-O

Comment by Pete Bendu on February 5, 2017 at 4:15pm

That is really scary.....I can't be a dad......I'm just a big kid myself.


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