Asia’s John Wetton turned to Toto guitarist when Steve Howe left: ‘My first choice was Steve Lukather’

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John Wetton says Asia approached a familiar name when Steve Howe left to focus on Yes last year: Steve Lukather, who had previously worked with Wetton and Asia in the early 1990s. Only Lukather, who is back in the studio with Toto and in the midst of on-going tour dates with Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band, simply couldn’t add another item to his over-filled plate.

“My first choice was Steve Lukather when Steve Howe decided to leave — to replace one superstar with another superstar, if you like,” Wetton tells Prog Sphere. “But Steve Lukather said to me, while he was flattered, he couldn’t do it. He had so much to do with Toto and Ringo. He had so much to do that he couldn’t do the job.”

Lukather earlier sat in with Wetton, Carl Palmer and Geoff Downes on “Days Like These,” one of four new tracks added to Asia’s gold-selling 1990 greatest hits package Then and Now. “Days Like These” went to No. 2 on Billboard’s mainstream rock charts. Later, Lukather also guested on Wetton’s 1994 solo effort Battle Lines. [Stream it!: John Wetton’s “Jane” with Steve Lukather.]

With Lukather unavailable, Asia turned to Paul Gilbert — who Wetton describes as Palmer’s favorite guitar player. Gilbert wasn’t able to free up his schedule either, and so recommended the youngster Sam Coulson. Asia was back on track. The band recently released Gravitas, its first studio album with Coulson. “As a personality,” Wetton says of the newcomer, “he fit in perfectly. He had everything going, he ticked every box and Sam Coulson seems to be working out great.”

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