‘I changed the emphasis of what I do’: How John Wetton’s health crisis impacted his art

John Wetton admits that personal issues wrecked his initial tenure with Asia. His recovery, however, has included a reunion as well as a creative rebirth. The prog-pop supergroup started off with a bang, of couse, issuing a multi-platinum debut in 1982, but Wetton was gone by 1983 — and ended up bouncing in and out of the line up two more times before an on-going stint started again in 2006.

“If I had not done something about it when I did, I’d be dead now,” Wetton tells WGLS. “In 1983, when it really came to a head with Asia, there were a lot of people around me wanted me to get better. I personally was in blissful ignorance — I think it’s called ‘denial.’ I didn’t really want to fess up to any kind of reality, and so I just carried on. Of course, other people found it unacceptable. Poeple just can’t tolerate the behavior of alcoholic in full flight, you know? And rightfully so.”

Wetton’s health struggles continued, even after he finally stopped drinking. Next, he had to deal with a heart problem — leading to a triple bypass. Carpel tunnel issues then arose in his right hand. But, over time, the former King Crimson, UK and Uriah Heep member got on track again — and his art changed, too, along the way.

“Mentally, physically and spiritually, I was completely on the scrap heap by the time I was 32,” Wetton says. “It took me a little bit longer than that to actually put the plug in the jug, but eventually it did happen. Now, I concentrate more on what I do with my voice than what I do with my guitar. It’s made me change the emphasis of what I do. All of these things happened after I stopped drinking.”


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