"John Wetton would have endorsed this tour as he wanted the music to live on." Wetton's widow "thrilled" with new Asia line-up

(Image credit: Press)

John Wetton's widow Lisa has revealed that Wetton would have "have endorsed" the recently announced new-look Asia line-up and upcoming North American tour as "he wanted the music to live on", and adding "the current lineup gives the music a fresh energy which I haven’t experienced since John was alive."

Asia recently announced that a new line-up of founding member Geoff DownesJohn Mitchell (It BitesLonely RobotKinoFrost* and more), Planet X drummer Virgil Donati and newcomer Harry Whitley, who performed with the Asia line-up at last year's John Wetton An Extraordinary Life tribute show.

While generally well-received, the announcement also came under fire from some fans complaining about a lack of original members, despite the fact the original Asia line-up were together for only two years and the band's line-up has fluctuated wildly in the ensuing years. although the original line-up did reform in 2006

With Steve Howe seemingly settled in his role as leader of Yes (who also face a barrage of online complaints about their line-up) and Carl Palmer busy with his own live work, it seems difficult to see how the three might have been able to make a modern-day reunion work. One can probably assume relations between Downes and John Payne, who replaced Wetton for the 90s incarnation of the band, are not at their best currently.

In a statement, LIsa Wetton says: "When my beloved husband John Wetton realised that he was coming to the end of his life, he revealed in earnest, the wish for his musical legacy to be upheld by those who were closest to him. Consequently, and with great passion Geoff Downes has been at the forefront of keeping that wish alive by touring the music of Asia throughout the past seven years.

"Last August, Geoff brought together an amazing group of musicians to present the best of Asia at the John Wetton Tribute concert in England. The show was the moving final set of a five-hour evening, and it was the first time the outside world would hear the phenomenal Harry Whitley on lead vocals.

"Most everyone, including myself, was stunned by Harry’s evocative voice which shares an eerily similar tonal quality to that of John Wetton. Geoff introduced Whitley to a wider audience and we all knew this would be the start of something very special - a new chapter for Asia. At least that is what many of us who saw the tribute had hoped.

"Fast forward nine months, and the musical legacy continues as Geoff Downes, along with Harry Whitley on lead vocals and bass, John Mitchell (The John Wetton Band, Wetton Downes’ Icon, It Bites, Lonely Robot, Kino, Frost, Arena) on guitar and Virgil Donati (Planet X, Ring of Fire) on drums takes Asia music to the US East coast along with legends Focus, Martin Turner ex Wishbone Ash and Curved Air.

"It would be easy for me to dismiss Asia without its other band members, proclaiming that it’s not really the band so there’s no point in them going on. There’s a problem with this statement. John Wetton himself would have endorsed this tour as he wanted the music to live on. He would have wanted the name to remain, as long as Geoff leads the way. Changing the name would go against John’s wishes. This is still Asia, and the current group have worked closely with Geoff Downes to respect the integrity of the music. I have seen it and feel comfortable with this current lineup. Everyone you will see on the stage (aside from Harry) has worked with John in different projects (John Mitchell was a member of the John Wetton Band and Icon and was also a close friend. Virgil performed on different occasions as the touring drummer in UK).

"The current lineup gives the music a fresh energy which I haven’t experienced since John was alive.

"I am personally thrilled to get behind this tour, and I know you will be thrilled too. Please support the legacy by coming to a show near you."

Tickets for the tour are on sale now. You can see the full list of dates and ticket information below.


(Image credit: Press)

Asia Heat Of The Moment 2024 tour dates

Jul 03: Ridgefield Playhouse, CT
Jul 04: Niagara Falls Fallsview Casino, NY
Jul 06: Medford Chevalier Theatre, MA
Jul 07: Huntingdon The Paramount, PN
Jul 09: Englewood Bergen Performing Arts Center, NJ
Jul 10: Red Bank Count Basie Center, NJ
Jul 12: Atlantic City Tropicana Showroom, NJ
Jul 13: Bethlehem Wind Creek Event Center, PA
Jul 14: Lancaster American Music Theatre, PA
Jul 16: Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium, SC
Jul 17: Nashville Ryman Auditorium, TN
Jul 18: Evans Columbia County Performing Arts Center, CO
Jul 20: Orlando Hard Rock Live, FL
Jul 21: Pompano Beach Amphitheater, FL
Jul 22: Tampa Seminole Hard Rock, FL
Jul 24: North Charleston PA, SC
Jul 25: Macon City Auditorium, GA
Jul 26: Mobile Saeger Theatre, AL
Jul 28: Huntsville VBC Mark Smith Concert Hall, AL
Jul 30: St Charles The Armada Theatre, MO
Jul 31: Milwaukee The Pabst Theatre, WI

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Jerry Ewing

Writer and broadcaster Jerry Ewing is the Editor of Prog Magazine which he founded for Future Publishing in 2009. He grew up in Sydney and began his writing career in London for Metal Forces magazine in 1989. He has since written for Metal Hammer, Maxim, Vox, Stuff and Bizarre magazines, among others. He created and edited Classic Rock Magazine for Dennis Publishing in 1998 and is the author of a variety of books on both music and sport, including Wonderous Stories; A Journey Through The Landscape Of Progressive Rock.