Picture: Lisa Nojaim

John Wetton, founding singer/bassist of Asia and a veteran of prog-rock bands including King Crimson, U.K. and Roxy Music, has lost a battle with colon cancer. He was 67.

With Asia, Wetton co-wrote and sang lead on the massive 1982 hit “Heat of the Moment,” as well as the band’s other big hits “Only Time Will Tell” and “Sole Survivor.”

Today, Asia drummer Carl Palmer, whose former Emerson, Lake & Palmer band mates Keith Emerson and Greg Lake both passed away last year, memorialized another musical collaborator in Wetton. “With the passing of my good friend and musical collaborator, John Wetton, the world loses yet another musical giant,” Palmer said in a statement. “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.”

Palmer added, “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.”

Geoff Downes, Asia’s keyboardist, said in a statement, “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.”

Downes added, “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.”

Over the years, Wetton collaborated with scores of musicians, including Yes, Brian Ferry and Genesis. He was going to participate in Asia’s recently announced U.S. arena tour with Journey, but revealed earlier this month that he’d have to miss the trek because he was undergoing treatment for his cancer. He’s survived by his wife, Lisa, and 18-year-old son, Dylan, as well as his brother and mother.

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