John Wetton's wife: 'Please keep the music alive'
When John Wetton left us on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, he left behind legions of fans who were deeply commited to the music he made with Asia, King Crimson and the many other acts to whom he devoted his creative energies. Tributes have been pouring out through social media all week, but these three - from his wife and two original Asia bandmates - caught my eye. I reprint edited portions of each below.
From his wife Lisa Wetton: “How does one move from point A to point B with the awareness that there is a lonely road between the two? I prepared for the last day. I meditated on it, imagined being in that moment where loss is imminent. I thought I was ready for it. But I came to realize that you're never really ready for it unless you're willing to truly let go. That has been a brutal reality over the past few days.
It's not so much that I won't see or feel John's physical body here anymore. I prepared for that. What I didn't and couldn't prepare for, were all the subtle, day-to-day things I'd discover in the silence of the past few nights.
John's constant whistling, for example. He whistled all the time, whilst doing his morning crossword puzzle, whilst driving to the store, even during his beloved football matches. I now have to listen much more intensely for it.
I also miss his dry sense of humour. There was a witty remark for everything in life; a clever play on words, a quote, a jab. He had an immense fascination of linguistics, which I suppose was the reason for his gift for lyric writing.
There's no need to mention his creative genius, as it has been honoured in the multitudes of tributes from friends, colleagues and fans. But the silence has cruelly made me all too aware of the loss of waking up to John's morning tinkering on the piano. The muse could entice, seduce, inspire at any time, day or night. And I was privileged to be able to witness his creative process as it played out on piano, guitar, or voice. Damn, that beautiful voice. …
I send my deepest sympathy to all of John's bandmates and colleagues throughout the years, especially to Geoff Downes and Carl Palmer, and to his newest musical colleague with Asia, Sam Coulson. You all have your wonderful (and sometimes not so wonderful) memories to hold closely to your heart.
And to all the fans, John was grateful for your devotion and enthusiasm for the music. Blimey, there are so many of you, it's mind boggling. I have one request. Please keep the music alive; whether it be from 45 years ago, or from the latest release, don't stop celebrating. There is so much of it to enjoy, and to share with the youngsters who need to know that there is great music out there still. All my love to you.
We come we go. But there is no divide between energies. We are both here and there. The subtle is sensed and identified as truth. Or not. I choose to believe that John is very much here in all that was important to him as a living man. Memory, music or ethos, I will continue to feel his presence, and that brings me great comfort.
Blessings to you, and great love and gratitude for all of your loving words."
From his bandmate Carl Palmer: “With the passing of my good friend and musical collaborator, John Wetton, the world loses yet another musical giant. John was a gentle person who created some of the most lasting melodies and lyrics in modern popular music. 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. For those of us who knew him and worked with him, his valiant struggle against cancer was a further inspiration. I will miss his talent, his sense of humor and his infectious smile. May you ride easy, my old friend.”
From his bandmate Geoff Downes: “It is with great sadness and a heavy heart, that I have to report we have lost my dearest friend, brother, bandmate and long term musical collaborator, John Wetton, who has passed away after a long and tenacious battle with cancer. He will be remembered as one of the world’s finest musical talents, and I for one of many was wholly blessed by his influence. It was a massive privilege for me to have worked with this genius so closely on our numerous projects together over the years. His bass playing was revolutionary. His voice was from the gods. His compositions – out of this world. His sense of melody and harmony – unreal. He was literally a ‘special one.’
But John was much more than a gigantic and unique musical talent. He was a supremely intelligent man, marked with his great observations and wisdom about life; all couched within his wicked sense of humour. The wit was dark and deep, only fully perceptible to those on his same wavelength. I was fortunate enough to be able to be on that wavelength, and discover that we had much in common. Many of his personal life experiences were reflected in his lyrical contributions to the songs. His heart was always in the music. That was John, through and through. It was always about – the music.
Above all else though, his passion for life was to the fore. The battles he endured throughout were immense and well documented. Firstly with alcohol, which he so resolutely overcame, then open heart surgery and finally cancer, which sadly was to take his life in the end. He once observed to me that this disease is a ‘merciless assassin.’ Just another example of his perception and the descriptive language that he was so richly blessed with. He took all of these battles on board with great bravery and almost a ‘laissez-faire’ attitude, tinged with his inimitable wry wit. …
Life will not be the same without him. 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.
Dearest John, may you rest in peace brother."