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?”
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.