John Wetton was born in Derby, England, and began his musical career in Bournemouth. He originally played keyboards, but soon switched to bass. His brother was a church organist and needed him to play the bass part because "he didn't have any pedals on the piano he practiced on at home." By the time he was 13, John was playing with a band started in a church hall, on a guitar that he'd tuned down to a bass register because the band didn't have a bass.
After several years with various London bands (Brotherhood/Mogul Thrush, Splinter), and a stint as a session musician in California, in 1971 John joined the established British band Family. Two years later he moved to King Crimson as lead vocalist, and remained with that group until Robert Fripp disbanded it in 1975. During this time John also made album appearances with other artists, including Roxy Music's Bryan Fergy and Phil Manzanera. When King Crimson broke up he was invited to join Roxy Music, and toured extensively with them.
He next moved to Uriah Heep, where he spent two years. In 1977, John formed a "supergroup" based around himself, Rick Wakeman, and Bill Bruford. Although that project never got past the drawing board stage, his acquaintance with Bruford resulted in the formation of the band U.K..
In 1980, John recorded his debut solo album, "Caught in the Crossfire". Its release coincided with John's joining Wishbone Ash as a replacement for Martin. He worked with the band on the "Number the Brave" album, but made no concert appearances with them, and left soon after to form the band Asia.
Projects over the next years included work with Asia, a collaboration with Phil Manzanera, and a compilation of his work solo, with King Crimson, and with Asia. In 1994 he released an album, called "Voice Mail" in some countries and "Battle Lines" in others. Produced by Ron Nevison, it featured Robert Fripp, Michael Landau, Michael Cartaloni, and Simon Phillips.
Asked about the future, John replied,"I try never to look further ahead than tonight. Yesterday's history and tomorrow's a mystery. Today is all we have, this moment is all that matters, this second, and that's good enough for me."
John Wetton on Wishbone Ash
Although he was only involved with Wishbone Ash for a short period of time - contributing the bass to the "Number the Brave" album - John Wetton has achieved a greater degree of commercial success that any other member of the band. John first became aware of Wishbone Ash around 1970, when he was a member of a band with the same booking agency. He didn't know the members well, but he knew the band, and paid some attention to their development. Some ten years later, after Martin had left Wishbone, John got a call from their agent, John Sherry, asking if he would be interested in working with the band. They had several meetings and jam sessions, and it was, John says,"quite exciting".
On the other hand, John was not offered Martin's position as lead singer and principal songwriter - Wishbone Ash was interested in him chiefly as a bass player. As time went on, this caused some conflicts. John wanted a free hand to use his talents, and he felt shut out of the camaraderie of the older members of the band. Although the feel of "Number the Brave" is different from previous Wishbone albums, John didn't believe that was due to his influence. Laurie Wisefield was already taking the band in a harder-edged rock direction, and John felt that they had chosen him because he fit that direction, rather than allowing him to affect their course.
John never really became a full-fledged member of the band, which is one reason that his name appears on only one of the songs on "Number The Brave". As he puts it,"If I had been offered the job of singer/songwriter/bass player, I would probably have taken it, and there would have been a true four-way split, but that wasn't the way it was to be". It is ironic that at least two songs that John offered to Wishbone Ash during the making of "Number The Brave", and which Andy, Laurie, and Steve rejected, were later recorded by Asia and sold some eight million copies.
Summing up his experience with Wishbone, John says,"I just stuck to my job and played bass on the album. I think if I had been allowed to write and sing to the fullest extent of my capability, then it would have been a lot stronger, a really good album."
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