Guitarist Steve Howe quits Asia; see a video of his replacement Sam Coulson

The convoluted history of Asia continues with the second departure of Steve Howe. He will remain guitarist in Yes, with whom he has been performing in tandem since 2006.

That year marked the reformation of the original lineup of Asia, which also includes John Wetton (bassist with King Crimson, Wishbone Ash, UK), Geoff Downes (keyboardist with Yes, the Buggles) and drummer Carl Palmer (who came to fame with Emerson Lake and Palmer).

asia 2013 sam coulson john wetton geoff downes carl palmer

Asia has already announced a replacement in youthful guitarist Sam Coulson, and superimposed his photo onto an existing band shot at their web site. The group also revealed plans to record a new album in 2013 to be titled Valkyrie. A video of Coulson is attached below.

Howe, of course, had previously quit Asia at the height of their chart successes in the early 1980s, leaving after on-going disputes with Wetton after just two albums — though that includes 1982’s biggest-selling smash, Asia’s eponymous debut. Mandy Meyer, formerly of Krokus, initially replaced Howe in Asia — which saw the single “Go” from 1985’s Astra reach the Top 50. Guitarist Alan Darby and Holger Larish later toured with the band; and Steve Lukather (of Toto fame) sat in for 1990’s Then and Now.

[SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: Keyboardist Geoff Downes explores his musical partnership with guitarist Steve Howe, as members of both Asia and Yes.]

Howe returned for a few guest performances with Asia, beginning in 1992, before the group carried on with another rotation of guitarists — including Aziz Ibrahim, Elliott Randall, Dave Kilminster, Vinny Burns, Keith More, Ian Crichton and, perhaps most famously, Al Pitrelli (Alice Cooper, Megadeth). Coulson is at least the 12th guitarist to cycle through Asia.

Howe then officially rejoined when all four of Asia’s founding members reunited in ’06. They’ve since issued three new studio recordings, including last year’s well-received 30th anniversary effort XXX.

Yes has become more active more recently, as well, after having functioned only as a touring unit for much of the 2000s. The band, which Howe has been part of over two stints going back 1971’s The Yes Album, issued its first studio effort in a decade with Fly From Here and has recently announced a massive new tour that will include performances of three classic Yes albums in their entirety.

Asia had already temporarily lost drummer Carl Palmer, prior to Howe’s resignation, after he was hit with an e coli infection — a situation that suddenly halted their anniversary tour.

“Myself and the band wish to thank their fans for the enthusiasm shown during the original members’ reunion,” Howe said in a new statement. “I will continue with Yes, and with my trio and solo guitar work. I wish my friends continued success.”

Wetton, in a separate statement, says: “Asia is ready to take its next steps along this remarkable road. We cannot wait to perform again for the fans and also to unveil some of the new material, of which we are very proud.”

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  • Perplexio

    Didn’t Pat Thrall tour with them on the “Then & Now” tour?

  • Mark Saleski

    i heard Joe Bonamassa was looking to sign up.

  • vladimir

    Looks like another Bonamassa. We`ll call it BonAsia.