Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Origin: London (England)

Asia Carl Palmer - John Wetton - Geoffrey Downes - Steve Howe
Carl Palmer - John Wetton - Geoffrey Downes - Steve Howe


Asia [st - 1982] aor melodic rock music blogspot full albums bands lyricsst - 1982 (with lyrics)

- Asia’s debut album exploded onto the music scene in March 1982 with several Top 10 singles and sales exceeding 7 million copies. This “supergroup”, featuring bassist/vocalist John Wetton, drummer Carl Palmer, keyboardist Geoff Downes, and guitarist Steve Howe, was the logical successor to their collective bands of the 70s – Yes, ELP, King Crimson, and The Buggles.
The group came together in the spring of 1981. John Wetton’s acclaimed progressive rock band UK had collapsed a few years earlier. With the help of manager Brian Lane, he wanted to form a new group with guitarist Steve Howe, best known for his work with British Prog superstars, Yes. Drummer Carl Palmer came into the fold next, having just completed a decade of platinum releases and sold out tours with Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Keyboardist Geoff Downes, who replaced Rick Wakeman in Yes for the Drama album, had previously been half of the pop duo The Buggles. They stormed the charts in 1979 with the timeless classic “Video Killed The Radio Star”.
Labelled a “supergroup” by critics and the media from the onset, it was a tag they had never asked for. Asia’s music (and rockíníroll charisma) developed organically and effortlessly.  Though all four men had seen chart-topping success in their previous bands, Asia had a special chemistry that fans and music industry insiders were quick to recognize.
“The band sort of came together naturally,” says Carl Palmer. ” It wasn’t something which was forced.  We all wanted to play together.  We had a great time doing it.” The band was signed in the summer of 1981 by Geffen Records A&R whiz John Kalodner, fresh out of a long affiliation at Atlantic Records.
The first Asia album went into production in June of 1981 with producer Mike Stone at Marcus Studios and Virgin Townhouse in London. Stone, who had worked on hits for Journey and Queen, also knew the band had an amazing musical ability. The band spent five months writing, arranging, and recording nine songs for its debut that included such classics as ” Heat Of The Moment”, “Only Time Will Tell”, and “Sole Survivor.”
“I think that we all knew as soon as we recorded the first few songs that it was going somewhere special,” says Wetton.  “I don’t think we knew, however, until we recorded ‘Heat Of The Moment’ that we had a monster on our hands.  I think that once we had done that, everyone knew that it was going to be successful.”
As soon as the album was completed, Geffen knew it had a winner on its hands.  The upstart label immediately began turning the wheels of its enormous promotional machine weeks before the LP’s release, to help propel the album to the top of the charts.  Asia had only weeks to rehearse for a 30 city US tour that commenced on April 22 in Potsdam, NY, of all places!  By the time the band reached the 12th stop on tour (Rochester, NY) on May 5th, the debut album had already hit #1 on the Billboard charts.
Fortunately for the band, a new music media outlet called MTV premiered on cable channels in 1981 throughout the US and in over 50 million households.  (Downes’ hit song with The Buggles “Video Killed The Radio Star” was the first song ever played on the exciting new channel).  Asia, aware the network’s impact on the industry, began shooting videos as soon as the album was finished. The result was a rock’n’roll marriage made in heaven.
Asia became one of the most played acts on MTV in 1982. Since most people were intrigued with the new concept, viewership often reached several hours a day. “You’re looking at a parallel success here,” says Wetton. “MTV and Asia were successful at the same time… of course, MTV was instrumental in Asia’s success, but then, Asia was also instrumental in MTV’s success.”
Throughout most of ’82, Asia ruled the radio airwaves and MTV; sold out every date on its tour; and the LP, Asia, crushed all the competition at record stores around the world.   The music industry had been in a major slump that year, and less than 15% of releases in 1982 made a profit. Asia was one of the year’s big exceptions. By the time the band released its second album, the debut album had sold over 6 million copies worldwide and was the best seller of 1982. It had stayed at the #1 spot for an incredible 9 weeks!
The band toured non-stop and continued to see the huge success they had initiated grow even larger.  They won almost every BEST NEW ACT award the industry had to offer in 1982.
The success, however, was too much, too soon. By the time they assembled to begin their second album in the winter of 1983, cracks had already begun to appear in the foundation. Creative tensions and egos – not to mention the pressure of having to top the best selling album of the previous year – made the second album’s recording sessions far less enjoyable than the first. Recording the album outside of their native England (in Morin Heights, Quebec) added to the difficulties.
The second album, Alpha, did ship platinum and contained the hits “Don’t Cry” and  “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes”, but Geffen’s hands-on pressure to score undeniable radio pop hits was starting to show.  “We had a precious success,” remembers Wetton. “We came in at the top, but it was an illusion to think we’d stay there. The band was still finding its feet as a musical entity.”
Personal conflicts on the Alpha tour began pulling the band apart. In October, an announcement was made of a huge MTV and Westwood One Radio Network simulcast of the band’s sold out December show at Tokyo’s Budokan arena. Instead of a sense of euphoria within the band, John Wetton departed Asia in a move that stunned the rock world. He was replaced at the last moment for the Asia In Asia broadcast and Japanese dates by Palmer’s ex-ELP band mate, Greg Lake. Lake’s time with the band, however, would be short.
The band was re-constructed in 1984, with Wetton back on board. After a brief period of time working on the next album, Steve Howe departed to form GTR with former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett. Mandy Meyer of Krokus replaced Howe, and in 1985 the group released its third album, Astra.  The album had a hit with “Voice Of America,” but compared to the massive success of the first two albums, the members viewed Astra as a disappointment.
They never toured for Astra, and soon after Asia fell apart. Although no formal break-up announcement was made, within months the members were all off doing different projects. “We broke up too soon,” remembered Carl Palmer during an interview in 1990. We were unique then, and we still are: English rock with a technical side; sophisticated rock mixed in with melodies and singles. It was taboo in those days, and you very rarely hear that today either.”
Palmer regrouped in 1987 with Keith Emerson and unknown bassist named Robert Berry to form 3. Wetton started a musical project with his Roxy Music band mate, Phil Manzanera, and Downes did a myriad of projects including working with both Mike Oldfield and Greg Lake, as well as producing Steve Howe’s new band, GTR.  He also released an experimental instrumental solo album called The Light Programme under the moniker, “The New Dance Orchestra”.
By 1990, Wetton, Palmer and Downes were ready to give it another go. They regrouped with American guitarist Pat Thrall (known for his work with Pat Travers and Glenn Hughes) and recorded new material. The new songs eventually surfaced as extra tracks in a best-of collection on Geffen, called Then & Now. “We were so musically compatible.” said Wetton, at the time. “We had tried other things and had been frustrated by them. (1990) seemed to be the right time for Asia again.”
They were placed on a summer tour of Europe with the unlikely headliners, The Beach Boys, where they played to 25,000 seat open arenas. Needless to say, the band was nervous about the audience reaction. However, they need not have worried as Asia received overwhelming positive response on every show of the tour.
“Each of us had been doing mainly studio work just prior to that tour,” says Downes. “When it gets right down to it, we all missed playing together and the feeling of a band, the excitement of playing live and getting on a big stage again.”
The reunion lasted nearly two years, including a memorable show that was filmed in Moscow’s Red Square. “What I remember about that show,” jokes Palmer, today, “is that we had Gorbachev’s limo and we had to wait two hours for lunch from McDonald’s!”
Shortly after the show in Russia, the band took another break. Palmer had the chance to reform Emerson, Lake & Palmer and did so in late 1991 with the Black Moon album. Wetton launched his long-awaited solo career, recording the critically acclaimed Battle Lines. Geoff Downes decided to carry on with Asia, reforming the band around him. In 1992, he enlisted newcomer John Payne on bass and vocals and recorded the Aqua album. The two men would record together for several years, working with various other musicians.
Palmer had a successful run again with ELP until the fall of 1998, when that band, too, went on hiatus. With John Wetton in-between solo projects and Downes willing to entertain offers for a reunion, suddenly all three men were available again to regroup as Asia. Due to his commitments with the re-formed Yes, Steve Howe was unavailable. However, the three other members all exchanged phone calls, and by Christmas of 1998, a reunion was looking possible.
The band announced plans for a world tour to begin on June 11th, 1999. After the tour, they had hoped to record a new album, with Downes and Wetton already writing songs again. Unfortunately, it was never to be. Almost as quickly as the whole project had begun, it dissolved. The event which so many had hoped for would have to wait for another day…
Shortly thereafter, Carl Palmer and John Wetton reunited in a new band called Qango. Featuring guitarist David Kilminster and keyboard player John Young, the group played a series of showcase dates in the UK in February 2000 which featured classic ELP, ASIA, and King Crimson material, along with some new material.
The shows were packed and well received, prompting the band to do several encores each night.  “It was a wonderful feeling to be back on stage playing this material with our new band,” said Palmer. Wetton added, “The shows went down very well and have made us excited about continuing with more tours and the recording of new material.” Once again, however, this lineup was short-lived and, after the triumphant UK tour, Qango went their separate ways.
For the next few years, the original members remained busy with their individual projects. John Wetton returned to his solo career; Carl Palmer assembled his own outfit, “The Carl Palmer Band”. Steve Howe toured extensively with Yes, and Geoff Downes continued on with his own Asia lineup.
Fate intervened in 2005 when Wetton and Downes found time to work together on new material that would eventually become the ICON album. The duo toured on the heels of the release, revisiting the glory years of Asia with standing ovations every night for the classic tunes.
But as the old saying goes, patience is a virtue…
Like a bolt from the blue, the stars aligned once again in early 2006. In April, all four original members of Asia confirmed that they would be reuniting for a world tour to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the band’s creation and debut album.
“This is the REAL ASIA,” says guitarist Steve Howe. “There have been other versions of the band, but this original line-up is the one that the public truly embraced. Since we only toured for a couple of years, it will be nice, finally, to play for audiences all over the world, many of whom never had a chance to see the group in concert.”
An American tour was confirmed beginning in August, followed by dates in the UK, Japan, and Latin America. The sold-out Japanese tour yielded a live release, Fantasia: Live in Japan. The setlist for the tour featured the entire debut album, heritage tracks from each band member’s pre-Asia bands as well as a few choice tracks from Alpha. As a special nod to fans who had stuck with the band over the years, an acoustic version of “Ride Easy”, a b-side from the debut, was played live for the first time.
The tour continued well into 2007 with shows in North America and Europe and the band entered the studio for what would be yet another dream-come-true for fans; the first full studio album from the four original members of Asia since 1983’s Alpha, entitled Phoenix.
Geoff described the enthusiasm within the band for the new project: “It’s great finally to give some new music to those Asia fans who have remained with us patiently all these years.” Steve emphasised the band’s ability to focus and called the new album “an enormous test, a challenge worthy of our intent. All the distractions usually evident vapourised, as we focused on collaborating to select and arrange these new songs, all in the style of Asia.” Carl pointed to the dynamics within Asia that resulted in Phoenix, indicating the “chemistry and energy that comes out when the four of us are working together and the new material reflects this.” For his part, John marvelled at how far the band had come from their tumultuous early years in the 1980s: “Each one of us is comfortable as a human being, and the sound on the CD Phoenix finally reflects the collective maturity of these four people who are not only eager to explore, but also relaxed enough to luxuriate in the strength of the material.”
Fans and critics world-wide welcomed the new release enthusiastically, and the band hit the road once again through 2008 and 2009 touring in the UK, North America, Japan and Europe. Touring for Phoenix culminated in the summer of 2009 with a number of European festivals and a tour with Yes, featuring Steve Howe performing onstage with both bands. A live video from those shows, Spirit of the Night, was later released in 2010.
With the touring cycle for Phoenix behind them, Asia returned once again to the recording studio for a follow-up album, Omega, this time joined in the studio by producer Mike Paxman (Status Quo, Uriah Heep). Immediately upon its release they launched their 2010-2011 Omega world tour beginning with dates in Europe and Russia, before heading off to Japan, North America, Central America and South America, along with a second tour leg of Europe, closing off the Omega tour on June 18, 2011 in Malanga, Spain. A third official live release, Resonance, would be recorded in Switzerland for release in the autumn of 2012.
With six years of touring and two new studio albums under their collective belts, the four members of Asia decided to take a much-deserved break at the end of the Omega tour, with each returning to their own solo and other non-Asia band projects. 30 years after the Drama album, Geoff Downes accepted an invitation to return to Yes for a tour and the recording of a new album, Fly From Here. Steve Howe, in addition to his duties in Yes, recorded a new solo album, Time. Carl Palmer toured Europe and North America with his solo band, while also releasing the third volume in his Working Live series. John Wetton released and toured in support of his own new solo album, Raised in Captivity, and began to lay the groundwork for a reunion with his former UK bandmates, Eddie Jobson and Terry Bozzio.
Early 2012 brough the band back together in the studio, once again with Mike Paxman, to record their third post-reunion studio album, XXX, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the band. Once again, fan and critical reaction was exemplary, with many hailing the release as their best since the 1980s. An extensive world tour is scheduled for late 2012 and planning is already actively underway for 2013 and beyond.
The heat goes on, indeed! -


- When they appeared in the early '80s, Asia seemed to be a holdover from the '70s, when supergroups and self-important progressive rockers reigned supreme. Featuring members of such seminal art rock bands as King Crimson (John Wetton), Emerson, Lake & Palmer (Carl Palmer), and Yes (Steve Howe), as well as Geoff Downes from the Buggles, Asia did feature stretches of indulgent instrumentals on their records. However, they also could be surprisingly poppy, and that is what brought them to the top of the charts with their debut album, Asia, and its hit single, "Heat of the Moment."

Alpha, their second album, also had a couple of hits ("Don't Cry" and "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes") but its follow-up, Astra, was a flop. The group disbanded in 1985, only to reunite in 1990 without John Wetton; John Payne took his place. After churning out a couple of new songs for a greatest-hits collection, the band hit the road, including two sold-out dates in front of 20,000 fans in Moscow. Thereafter, they toured sporadically and released Aqua (1992), Aria (1994), Arena (1996), Aura (2001), and Silent Nation (2004). The band's lineup reverted to its original form featuring Wetton, Palmer, Howe, and Downes for Phoenix (2008) and Omega (2010). In 2012, the original Asia lineup returned with the studio album XXX, featuring the single "Face on the Bridge." The following year, Howe announced his amicable departure from the group to pursue other projects, and in 2014 Asia released the album Gravitas, featuring new guitarist Sam Coulson. In January 2017, a month and a half before the scheduled beginning of an extensive U.S. tour by the band, John Wetton died from colon cancer at the age of 67. -


- 'Asia' are an English Progressive Rock band who in their long career have undergone multiple world tours and have released two platinum albums. Seen as one of the first music "Supergroups", the band's original line up consisted of vocalist and bassist John Wetton of 'King Crimson', guitarist Steve Howe and keyboardist Geoff Downes of the band 'Yes', and drummer Carl Palmer of 'Emerson' and 'Lake & Palmer'. Years after the demise of these bands mentioned above, Wetton and Howe were brought together by 'Geffen Records' to start writing material for a new album, after a number of failed projects featuring these members. After the other founding members joined what would become Asia, their first release initially received poor reviews from critics. The album that was considered closer to 'Album-Orientated Rock' than Progressive Rock clicked with fans of popular acts of the time such as 'Journey' and 'Boston'. This album, entitled 'Asia', was released in March 1982 and gained considerable commercial success, spending nine weeks at number one in the United States album chart and has sold over 10 million copies worldwide, going 3x Platinum in Canada, 4x Platinum in the US and Gold in the UK. While the band never found huge success in their home country, in the US the band sold out every date of their first tour, with many of the venues being upgraded to arenas due to the huge demand for tickets. Asia would also go on to receive a Grammy nomination for "Best New Act" in 1982, and the future looked very bright. Sadly the band never achieved the same commercial success that they did on their first album, despite their second album entitled 'Alpha' (1983) peaked at #6 in the Billboard 200, and has been certified Platinum in the US and Silver in the UK.

Things have never truly been the same since and shortly after the release of Alpha, Wetton left the band supposedly due to poor sales of their second album, however there have been many contradicting stories on this case. After cancelled tours and with interest in the band dwindling, Howe soon left the band as well. Their third album 'Astra', released in November 1985, was not as commercially successful as their first two albums and soon after the release their record label cancelled the projected world tour because of this lack of interest. From here tours and new material were few and far between, with Wetton and Palmer briefly rejoining for a few tours in in Europe in 1989. Asia returned to the studio in 1990 with Downes, 'Toto' guitarist Steve Lukather and other musicians and released 'Then & Now', a 'best-of' which also featured four new tracks but this wasn't considered by some to be a new release.

However Wetton would soon depart the band again, and in his place vocalist/bassist John Payne joined the band. Together with Downes, they enlisted new musicians and this line up would last all the way up to 2006. The next album to be released by Asia was entitled 'Aqua', their fourth studio album which was released by FM Revolver in the UK in 1992. It was the first album to feature new vocalist and bassist John Payne, new guitarist Al Pitrelli and the first album to feature original guitarist Steve Howe since the 1983 release 'Alpha'. Howe and original drummer Carl Palmer would both leave Asia shortly after the release; making Aqua the band's final release to feature either of them in an official capacity until the original line-up reunited in 2006 and released 2008's 'Phoenix'. In addition to Downes and Payne, the album featured Howe, Palmer, and guitarist Al Pitrelli (of 'Danger Danger', 'Megadeth' and 'Alice Cooper'). Howe returned during the sessions having just left 'Yes' once again, but Palmer would soon leave, and as a result was only able to play on just three songs. The breathtaking artwork for this album was created by famous fantasy artist/illustrator Rodney Matthews who was designed album artwork for many successful bands including 'Thin Lizzy', 'Magnum', 'Eloy', 'Diamond Head' and 'Uriah Heep'.

From this point the band enjoyed much more stability and continued to tour and release new music. Then in 2006, the original line-up reunited and have released a further four albums since. In 2013, Howe retired from the band to continue with Yes and pursue other projects, and was replaced by guitarist Sam Coulson, completing the current lineup. -


- Asia are an English progressive rock band formed in London in 1981. The most commercially successful line-up was its original, which was a supergroup of four members of different progressive rock bands of the 1970s, including lead vocalist and bassist John Wetton of King Crimson, guitarist Steve Howe of Yes, keyboardist Geoff Downes of Yes and the Buggles, and drummer Carl Palmer of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Their debut album, Asia, released in 1982, remains their best selling album and went to number one in several countries.

The band underwent multiple lineup changes before the original four members reunited in 2006. As a result, a band called Asia Featuring John Payne exist as a continuation of John Payne's career as Asia's frontman from 1991 until Wetton's return in 2006. In 2013, the original line-up was broken once again when Howe retired from the band to focus on Yes and pursue other projects and was replaced by guitarist Sam Coulson. After several years of hiatus due to Wetton's health, he died of cancer on January 31, 2017, and was replaced by Billy Sherwood of Yes.



Asia began in early 1981 with the apparent demise of Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, two of the flagship bands of British progressive rock. After the break-up of King Crimson in 1974, various plans for a supergroup involving bassist John Wetton had been mooted, including the abortive British Bulldog project with Bill Bruford and Rick Wakeman in 1976. In 1977 Bruford and Wetton were reunited in U.K., augmented by guitarist Allan Holdsworth and keyboardist/violinist Eddie Jobson. Their self-titled debut was released in 1978. But by January 1980, U.K. had folded after one lineup change and three recordings. A new project was then suggested involving Wetton, Wakeman, drummer Carl Palmer and (then little known) guitarist/singer Trevor Rabin, but Wakeman also left this project shortly before they were due to sign to Geffen and before they had played together.

In late December 1980, Wetton and former Yes guitarist Steve Howe were brought together by A&R man John Kalodner and Geffen Records to start writing material for a new album.[citation needed] They were eventually joined in early 1981 by drummer Carl Palmer, and finally by Howe's fellow member of Yes, keyboardist Geoff Downes. Two other players auditioned and considered during the band's formation were former The Move and ELO founder Roy Wood and the aforementioned guitarist/singer Rabin, who would go on to be part of a reformed Yes in 1983. Rabin, in a filmed 1984 interview included in the DVD 9012Live, said that his involvement with Asia never went anywhere because "there was no chemistry" among the participants.

The band's first recordings, under the auspices of Geffen record label head David Geffen and Kalodner, were extremely popular with record buyers, yet considered disappointing by music critics and fans of traditional progressive rock, who found the music closer to radio-friendly album-oriented rock (AOR). However, Asia clicked with fans of popular arena acts such as Journey, Boston and Styx; Kalodner had once introduced Wetton to Journey's short-lived frontman Robert Fleischman, with a view to Fleischman becoming Asia's lead-singer. As they worked on material together, Fleischman was impressed by Wetton's singing and felt the voice best suited to the new material was Wetton's own. He left Asia amicably.

Rolling Stone gave Asia an indifferent review, while acknowledging the band's musicianship was a cut above the usual AOR expectations.

1981–85: "Heat of the Moment" and early success

Asia's eponymous debut album Asia, released in March 1982, gained considerable commercial success, spending nine weeks at number one in the United States album chart and selling over four million copies in the States alone. The album sold over 10 million worldwide and has never been out of print. The singles "Heat of the Moment" and "Only Time Will Tell" became Top 40 hits, both boosted by popular MTV music videos. Both tracks went on to become stadium favourites at United States sporting events. "Sole Survivor" also received heavy air play on rock stations across the United States, as did "Wildest Dreams" (another MTV video) and "Here Comes The Feeling". The band's best performing single, and perhaps their most recognised and popular hit song, "Heat of the Moment", spent six weeks at #1 on Billboard's Album Rock Tracks chart and climbed to #4 on the Hot 100.

In the United States the band sold out every date on their debut tour, which began at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York on 22 April 1982, continued in theatres but quickly expanded into massive arenas because of high ticket demand. Asia would go on to receive a Grammy Award nomination as Best New Artist of 1982. MTV also played Asia videos on heavy rotation—as many as five times a day. Both Billboard and Cash Box named Asia's debut the #1 album of the year. Asia's logo and cover art were created by illustrator Roger Dean of Yes and Uriah Heep fame.

However, neither the second album, Alpha (released in July 1983), nor any following Asia album could repeat the chart success of the first release. "Don't Cry" was a #1 Album Rock Track and Top 10 Pop hit in the summer of 1983, and the video received considerable attention on MTV, while "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes" was another Top 40 hit for the band. The video for "Smile" also scored heavy MTV play. However, Rolling Stone panned Alpha as an over-produced commercial album, while others lamented that Howe and Palmer were effectively reduced to session musicians. Alpha received indifferent reviews from various critics, while still attaining platinum status and reaching #6 on the Billboard album chart.

In October 1983, Wetton was forced out of the group on the heels of the comparatively disappointing sales of Alpha. The band stated that Wetton quit, Wetton countered that he was fired by phone and there is no universally agreed upon version of what happened. Wetton later revealed one factor may have been his alcohol dependency. In any event, the next leg of their 1983 United States tour (which had begun in the summer but shut down suddenly on 10 September after a performance at Pine Knob in Detroit), scheduled for the autumn, was abruptly cancelled, reportedly because of low ticket sales.

Ex-King Crimson and ELP front man Greg Lake replaced Wetton for the highly publicised "Asia in Asia" concert at the Nippon Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Japan on 6 December 1983, which was the first concert broadcast over satellite to MTV in the United States and later made into a home video. Some of the songs had to be played in a lower key to suit Lake's voice and he read most of the lyrics from a teleprompter; Lake has commented in interviews that he was asked to cover Wetton's parts at very short notice.

Lake left in early 1984 and Asia reunited with Wetton that same year to start work on their next album. But Howe soon left to be replaced by Krokus guitarist Mandy Meyer. Howe then enjoyed brief success with GTR, another supergroup, formed with Steve Hackett of Genesis and produced by Downes.

1985–91: Astra, break-up and new lineups

The third Asia album was tentatively titled Arcadia, but during production it was discovered that that name was being used by a forthcoming spin-off project from Duran Duran. The retitled Astra, released in November 1985, was not as commercially successful as the first two albums. The record label cancelled the projected tour because of lack of interest. Howe's replacement, Mandy Meyer of Krokus, provided more of a hard-rock approach. The band charted another single with "Go" (No. 46), featuring Meyer's guitar work as a primary element. The music video was another hit with MTV but in 1986 this Asia lineup folded, bringing the group to an end for the time being. Wetton is quoted as saying "[Astra] did really well in Sweden ... but Swedish sales aren't that large."[citation needed]

Wetton resurfaced in January 1987 with an album recorded with guitarist Phil Manzanera, Wetton-Manzanera, based on material that had been originally intended for Asia. Also in 1987, Wetton played with Phenomena on their Dream Runner album and landed a number one hit in South America with the Phenomena single "Did It All for Love", also appearing in the related music video. Asia were also credited with contributing the Giorgio Moroder produced track "Gypsy Soul" to the Sylvester Stallone film soundtrack to Over the Top, although Wetton was the only band member involved.

Wetton and Downes' attempt to restart the group in 1987 with guitarist Scott Gorham (formerly of Thin Lizzy) and drummer Michael Sturgis (ex-a-ha) fizzled when they were unable to land a worldwide recording deal.

Wetton and Palmer were more successful in reuniting the band for a few tours of Europe in the summer and autumn of 1989. Downes (who was working on a project with Greg Lake) was not available, so keyboards were played by John Young. Guitars on this tour were handled by Alan Darby (who was replaced shortly after by German guitarist Holger Larisch) and Zoe Nicholas and Susie Webb were brought aboard to provide back-up vocals. Unlike Wetton's later anger at Asia continuing without him in the 1990s, this lineup was viewed favourably by other Asia band members.

Asia returned to the studio in 1990 with Downes, Toto guitarist Steve Lukather and other studio musicians and released Then & Now (August 1990), a best-of with four new tracks. "Days Like These" from the disc received substantial airplay during the summer of 1990 on AOR radio stations and re-sparked some interest in the band. Pat Thrall joined Downes, Palmer and Wetton on tour and they performed classic material, including King Crimson and U.K. songs.

The band toured the Soviet Union in November 1990 to play in front of 20,000 fans on two sold out nights. "Days Like These" charted in the United States at No.64 in 1990 and climbed all the way to No.2 on the United States Album Rock Tracks chart. A video was planned but scrapped because various problems hampered the single's chance at the Top 40. Asia received the RIAA Gold album award for Then and Now many years later, but the initial response was modest as the album failed to dent the Top 100. A DVD and CD are available of the Asia concerts in the USSR (featuring a bonus studio track, "Kari-Anne" recorded by the 1987 Wetton-Downes-Gorham-Sturgis lineup and with Francis Dunnery contributing a guitar solo). Wetton left the group in April 1991 after a South American tour, discouraged by Asia's lack of success in the United States.

1991–2006: Downes/Payne era

After Wetton's departure, vocalist/bassist John Payne joined the band and, together with Downes, enlisted new musicians and led Asia through to 2006. The first album with this lineup was Aqua, released in June 1992. In addition to Downes and Payne, the album featured Howe, Palmer, and guitarist Al Pitrelli (of Danger Danger, Megadeth and Alice Cooper). Howe returned during the sessions having just left Yes again, but Palmer would leave soon, committing to an ELP reunion, and was able to play on just three songs. Drummers Simon Phillips and Nigel Glockler then completed the sessions. Downes' environmentalist single "Who Will Stop the Rain?" (originally written for Max Bacon and the aborted Rain project, later appearing on Bacon's album From the Banks of the River Irwell) attracted some radio attention. The Aqua club tour featured Howe (whose presence was heavily promoted), who took the stage after the fifth song. The tour was successful enough to warrant the band's continuation. The 1992–93 tour featured Downes, Howe, Payne, guitarist Vinny Burns and drummer Trevor Thornton. Before a European festival tour in late 1993, Howe and Burns left and were replaced by guitarist Keith More.

The group released Aria in May 1994, which featured lead guitarist Al Pitrelli once again, who would leave Asia during the short Aria tour. The Aria album did not fare well commercially and the ensuing tour was limited to four concerts. Ex-Simply Red guitarist Aziz Ibrahim took over during the tour. Aria also introduced new drummer Michael Sturgis, who had been involved during the band's aborted 1987 reunion and had appeared on some of the sessions for Aqua. Aria was not released in the United States until May 1995.

Over New Year's Eve 1995/1996, a broken pipe inundated the control room in Downes' and Payne's recording studio, Electric Palace, in London. Amid the lost equipment, a vault containing unreleased material was found intact. The band decided to release the material in two discs, Archiva Vol. 1 and Archiva Vol. 2. The Archiva sets were collections of unreleased tracks recorded during the first three Downes/Payne albums.

Next, Arena, released in February 1996, featured Downes, Payne, Sturgis, Ibrahim and guest guitarist Elliott Randall (ex-Steely Dan, and Randy Crawford). The album was released on Resurgence Records but there was no tour because of lack of interest. The group's lone promotional performance in conjunction with the album occurred on 19 April 1996, when Downes and Payne appeared with guitarist Elliott Randall on the Virgin FM radio programme Alive in London to play the song "Never".

An all acoustic album, Live Acoustic, was recorded by the group at Stadthalle, Bruchsal, Germany on 21 September 1997 (and released in December 1999) that featured a lineup of Downes, Payne, Ibrahim, and drummer Bob Richards.

In 1999 there was talk of a reunion of the original lineup minus Howe. The original proposition included Dave Kilminster on guitar, who had previously toured and recorded with Wetton. While Howe was interested in participating, he was unable to because of his busy schedule with Yes. This reunion did not take place and John Payne continued to carry on Asia with Downes uninterrupted. Wetton and Palmer did, however, get together to form Qango, which included Kilminster and John Young, although the band was short-lived. Kilminster went on to work with Keith Emerson, The Nice and Roger Waters. In 2000, Geffen/Universal released a best-of entitled The Very Best of Asia: Heat of the Moment (1982–1990), which also included three rare B-sides from the early days. In May 2000 the band put out an all instrumentals album called Rare.

2001's Aura featured three different session guitarists, including Ian Crichton (of Canadian progressive rock band Saga) who'd briefly joined Asia in 1998–1999. Aura took a more progressive rock form, but still did not recapture the commercial success of the first album. Former members Howe, Thrall, Sturgis and Elliott Randall also made guest appearances. The single "Ready to Go Home" was barely distributed. Asia then signed with Recognition Records. 2001 did see the band with a stable lineup, achieved during the Aura sessions featuring Downes, Payne, guitarist Guthrie Govan and ex-Manfred Mann's Earth Band/The Firm/Uriah Heep/Gary Numan/AC/DC drummer Chris Slade (who had first joined Asia in 1999, briefly).

In 2001 and 2002 Asia toured for the first time since 1994, including their first United States dates since 1993. A live album and DVD, both titled America: Live in the USA, were released in 2003, recorded at the Classic Rock Productions Classic Rock Festival at The Patriots Theater at the Trenton War Memorial in Trenton, New Jersey on 5 October 2002, which they co-headlined with Uriah Heep.

In the summer of 2003, Downes and Payne undertook the "Asia Across America Tour", which received some media attention. Performing "unplugged", the duo would reportedly play anywhere in the United States that fans requested, provided there was a venue and the fans put up $3,000 to cover costs.

Marking a departure from convention, for the first time a studio release was not titled as a single word starting and ending with the letter A (excepting the partial compilation / partial new album Then & Now). Released on Asia's newly signed label SPV/Inside Out Records, 2004's Silent Nation (name influenced by the Howard Stern vs. FCC incident) picked up some unexpected exposure on the Internet.

In 2004 an acoustic Asia toured once again featuring only Downes and Payne. In 2005 the full band toured in Europe and the Americas playing settings ranging from small clubs to medium-sized theatres. In the United States attendance was poor at best.

In August 2005 Slade left Asia to be replaced by drummer Jay Schellen. The new band started work on an album, tentatively entitled Architect of Time, which was originally planned for release early in 2006, though subsequent developments would cause this project to be shelved. Half of this material ended up being released on the album Window to the Soul in August of 2006 under the new band name of GPS, which was an acronym for the three players involved: Govan, Payne and Schellen. After this, the three continued on as Asia Featuring John Payne in 2007.

Meanwhile, Wetton and Downes had released some archival Asia material under the name Wetton/Downes in September 2002 and they then reunited to record a full-length album (Icon, released in August 2005) and an accompanying EP and DVD. Two additional Icon projects have since followed: Icon II: Rubicon (November 2006) and Icon 3 (March 2009).

2006–13: "Original Asia" reunion

In early 2006, the partnership between Downes and Payne was dissolved[citation needed] when Downes left for a reunion of the original band lineup under the Asia name, a breakup that Payne described as "painful". The existing lineup (minus Downes) continued for a short while before morphing into the aforementioned GPS.

When Downes left in 2006, Payne owned a significant portion of the rights to the band name "Asia"[citation needed], until a legal agreement was set by both bands' management[citation needed]. The original members exclusively continued to perform and record as Asia[citation needed]. On 9 May 2006, John Payne, Geoff Downes, John Wetton, Carl Palmer and Steve Howe contractually agreed that John Payne could continue his 15-year period with Asia as Asia Featuring John Payne. Asia featuring John Payne debuted in 2007 with Payne on vocals/bass, Guthrie Govan on guitar, Erik Norlander on keyboards and Jay Schellen on drums.

The official websites of each band reflect a split between the shared history of Payne's tenure with the band, as the reunited Asia acknowledge only pre- and post-Payne albums, whereas Asia Featuring John Payne claim Payne-era (1991–2006) albums Aqua (1992) through Silent Nation (2004) as part of their own discography. Asia Featuring John Payne perform songs from the entire history of Asia.

Downes and the other three original members (Wetton, Palmer and Howe) convened a group meeting in England in early 2006 in anticipation of formally reforming for work that year. And after a slew of rumours, they announced that this original lineup of Asia were planning a CD, DVD and world tour to celebrate the band's 25th anniversary. The band appeared in October 2006 on United States cable channel VH-1 Classic and began a world tour largely focused on the United States The band secured ownership of the Asia name and toured under the description of the Four Original Members of Asia. The set list featured most of the first album as well as a couple of songs from the second, along with one selection each from Yes, ELP, King Crimson and the Buggles to acknowledge the history of each member of the band. In a 2006 interview, guitarist Steve Howe states, "This is the real Asia. There have been other incarnations of the band, but this is the one that the public truly embraced".

The tour began on 29 August 2006 in Rochester, New York. "The Definitive Collection" was released by Geffen/Universal to tie into the tour in September and peaked at No.183 on the United States album charts--—the first time Asia had made the charts since 1990. A limited edition release available only at Best Buy stores also included a DVD of all the band's music videos.

The reunion tour continued into 2007 with venue size based on the success of the 2006 shows, where the band was mainly playing in clubs and theatres. Many of these sold out, including all seven dates in Japan. Also in 2007, the band released Fantasia: Live In Tokyo on CD and DVD through Eagle Records, commemorating the 25th Anniversary and documenting the success of the 2006–2007 tour.

In mid-2007, all four original members (Wetton, Downes, Howe and Palmer) went into the studio to record a new album, marking the first recorded material from all four original members since 1983's Alpha. The band continued to tour until major heart surgery for Wetton in the second half of the year saw remaining tour dates rescheduled for 2008.

The new studio album, entitled Phoenix, was released on Frontiers Records on 14 April 2008 (via EMI/Capitol on 15 April in North America), along with a world tour to promote. The 12-track album includes "An Extraordinary Life", based on Wetton's experience of ill health; rockers such as "Never Again" and "Alibis"; and power ballads such as "Heroine" and "I Will Remember You". The world tour also featured a couple of the new songs. The album cover featured Roger Dean's illustration and design. The Phoenix album did well in both the American and European/Japanese markets. It debuted at No.73 on the American Billboard 200; the band had not charted with a studio album since 1985.

As a special finale to the US Phoenix tour, the band performed, for the first time ever, the entire first Asia album from beginning to end at their San Francisco concert at The Regency Center on 5 May. The album comprised the entire 2nd set of the evening's concert.

In summer 2009, Asia toured the United States with Yes. Asia opened with a 55-minute show, while Yes closed with a 1-hour and 50 minute set. Asia's set included only "An Extraordinary Life" from Phoenix, the rest of the songs coming from the first two albums plus one cover each from The Buggles ("Video Killed the Radio Star" with Wetton on lead vocals and Downes on vocoder), King Crimson ("The Court of the Crimson King", which was recorded by the original incarnation of that band with Greg Lake on lead vocals) and Emerson, Lake & Palmer ("Fanfare for the Common Man"). Yes songs were omitted from this tour's setlist, though Asia also covered "Roundabout" on earlier legs of the "Four Original Members" tour. Contrary to some early expectations, Downes did not perform with Yes, although their set list included two songs from the 1980 album Drama, which featured Downes on keys. A series of shows late in the tour featured a special appearance by Ian McDonald (flute and vocals on "The Court Of The Crimson King", which he co-wrote, and backing vocals on "Heat Of The Moment").

In late 2009, the band began working on their follow-up CD to Phoenix. According to Wetton's website in late November 2009: "Good news is that the new album is starting to leap, rather than creep (or sleep) in terms of progress. This week I have two completed lead vocals, with complete harmony/chorus voxes on three. It's just me, Geoff [Downes], Steve R[ispin], and Mike Paxman in the studio--- Carl [Palmer] is pretty much all done, Steve H[owe] is half done, and returns to the fold after Yes tour. It sounds absolutely wonderful". The follow-up, titled Omega, was released in the UK on 26 April 2010.

The band finished a new studio album timed to coincide with the band's thirtieth anniversary, titled XXX, and released in the U.K. on 2 July 2012 and worldwide around the same time. In September 2012 they played 4 shows in Japan and a North American tour started on 11 October 2012. The UK tour, however, had to be cancelled after a number of shows due to Palmer contracting a serious case of E. coli.

2013–17: Howe's retirement, Gravitas and hiatus

On 10 January 2013, Steve Howe announced his retirement from the band to focus on other projects, including Yes, bringing an end to the reunion of the original lineup. Asia in turn announced they would be continuing with new guitarist Sam Coulson, with a new album in the works entitled Gravitas. The new lineup performed live in 2013.

On the website ultimateclassicrock.com, Howe explained his decision to leave Asia:

Something had to give. Because I'd just done five years with both bands and then Geoff had joined [Yes] when we did Fly From Here, which is maybe a lot shorter, only a quarter of that time for him. He only experienced the tip of the iceberg of being on call for two bands. But there were times in the first three years — it actually got easier when Geoff joined. It was easier because we were both in the band and we could both wrestle with the schedules — but before that, at times, Yes or Asia would extend a tour by a day and then Yes or Asia would then expand the start of the tour, so the gap would start to close.

And I would start freaking out saying "yeah, but hang on ... if you add that date here and they've just added this date here, I'm now squeezed like a concertina." So there was going to be a time at some point when this was unworkable and unfortunately it was the end of last year that made me realize that this being on call was really too much. I couldn't keep either really happy. I was either making Yes miserable or Asia miserable, because of the other one being in existence.

So I think that Asia had a terrific run and we made three great albums. In fact, XXX, I think, is a fantastic record.
—?Steve Howe
The band finished the recording sessions for Gravitas in December 2013 and in January 2014 they started shooting the music video for "Valkyrie", which was released as a single. The album's cover artwork was designed by Asia longtime collaborator Roger Dean. On 30 January 2014, Wetton revealed the album's track listing through Asia's official website and talked about each song from the album. The album was released on 24 March 2014  and reached Number 1 in the Progressive Rock Chart for emusic on 27 March.

Following Gravitas and the subsequent tour, the band went on an almost three-year hiatus due to Wetton having cancer and undergoing chemotherapy. On 5 December 2016, Asia announced a US tour opening for American rock band Journey, beginning with 12 dates from 15 March 2017 at the Yakima Valley Sundome in Yakima, Washington, and four days later, announced their live album Symfonia: Live in Bulgaria 2013, upon which they performed with the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra.

2017–present: Wetton's death, Sherwood as frontman

On 11 January 2017, Wetton released a statement that, due to receiving another round of chemotherapy, he would be unable to perform on the 12 dates announced for the Journey tour, and that he would be substituted by Billy Sherwood, one of Downes' Yes bandmates, and Wetton's own co-writer and producer of the album Raised in Captivity. The band had originally wanted to cancel the tour altogether, but Journey's management and agents refused, forcing them to pick Sherwood as last-minute replacement.

Wetton died on 31 January 2017 at the age of 67; Palmer later stated "So, we used Billy and we had a phenomenal time. It was a great experience all 'round, and I’m pleased we did it. John would have loved to be on that tour, so I’m pleased we did it for him, anyway." On June 17, 2017, Asia performed a show in hommage of Wetton, titled An Extraordinary Life.

After Wetton's death, Downes stated that the duo had been working on another Asia album after his death, and stated that it might eventually be completed and released. It is unclear if Wetton had recorded any parts, or if the album had only been in the songwriting process. In August, Palmer stated that the future of Asia was unclear, as it was too soon to make any decisions and the band members would be busy on other projects in the meantime.


Through the years, Geoff Downes has been the most consistent member of the band, which experienced a revolving roster of noted musicians, particularly in the 1990s; although the most constant member in the band's history, Downes himself was out of the band from its 1989 reunion to 1990. The original, 1981 line-up initially lasted until 1983 when John Wetton left. It was reunited on two occasions: first, one year later when Wetton rejoined, but Steve Howe left before the band could work together again, and a second time in 2006, when Downes, then the last original member left, replaced the rest of the band with his original bandmates. This last original reunion lasted until 2013, when Howe left once again. Wetton died from cancer in 2017, making another reunion of the original lineup impossible.

Several musicians have joined and left after a short time without recording any studio material with the group. The most notable collaboration of this kind was the participation of Greg Lake in the "Asia in Asia" concert on bass guitar and lead vocals. Yet more musicians have played as session musicians or have guested with the band without formally joining. Some of these artists include: Robert Fleischman, Vinnie Colaiuta, Francis Dunnery, Ant Glynne, Scott Gorham, Tomoyasu Hotei, Luís Jardim, Ron Komie, Tony Levin, Steve Lukather, Thomas Lang, Kim Nielsen-Parsons, Nigel Glockler, Simon Phillips, and Alex Thomas. -


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