Asia supergroup co-founder and frontman John Wetton died on Jan. 31 at the age of 67 after a battle with colon cancer.
Wetton, a singer and bassist who also played for King Crimson and worked with Uriah Heep, Bryan Ferry, Brian Eno, Roxy Music and many others, died early in the morning in his sleep, reports TMZ.
“John was a gentle person who created some of the most lasting melodies and lyrics in modern popular music,” bandmate Carl Palmer, of Asia and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, said in a statement, according to Rolling Stone. “As a musician, he was both brave and innovative, with a voice that took the music of Asia to the top of the charts around the world. His ability to triumph over alcohol abuse made him an inspiration to many who have also fought that battle … I will miss his talent, his sense of humor and his infectious smile.”
At the start of 2017, Wetton had to pull out of Asia’s upcoming tour with Journey due to scheduled cancer treatments. He was set to begin a new chemotherapy treatment procedure that would leave him unable to travel, according to an announcement on his personal website.
“My good friend Billy Sherwood will fill in for me within Asia, keeping my seat warm during the initial 12 Journey dates,” Wetton said in the Jan. 11 statement. “While I am naturally disappointed to miss the beginning of what I know will be an historic ASIA tour, I am intending to return to the stage with Asia later in 2017, dates soon to be announced. I know this decision will be in the best interests of my health and our fans, in the long run.”
The English musician’s bandmates said Wetton’s struggle with cancer was a long one and that they intended to continue the Asia tour in his memory.
“Life will not be the same without him,” Geoff Downes, of Asia and Yes, wrote in a statement posted to Facebook. “And words are not really enough to describe the loss I feel right now, and the many friends and fans all over the world will also be feeling. It is the end of an era for all of us. But we will soldier on — the music of John Wetton needs to be heard loud and clear from the rooftops.”
Sources: TMZ, Rolling Stone, Original Asia/Facebook, John Wetton / Photo credit: jomelia/Flickr