JW: I was a Beatles boy, but influences were Beethoven, Bach, Beach Boys, and European church music in general: Pergolesi, Vivaldi, Tallis, Handel all feature prominently. I switched from piano to bass guitar originally because it was a cool thing to do while singing. I was always interested in the song; that was the most important thing, and pretty much what I bring to the party.
RTH: The Family records I own strike me as working in a heavy folk-rock vein, similar to Jethro Tull, Fairport Convention, and Traffic, rather than what we’ve come to describe as “progressive rock.” Today, rock critics and other obsessives categorize various forms of English progressive music from the early ’70s in various ways, but at the time did you feel you were consciously venturing into new territory, or was what you were doing was a natural extension of psychedelia, blues-rock, and the like?
JW: There was an explosion of musical activity, a volcano which happened in Britain, and particularly in London, in the late ’60s/early’70s, where US blues was forged with European classical, and that was really what we know now as progressive music. “Whiter Shade of Pale” ushered in the Bach flavouring; King Crimson, borrowing heavily from Beatles hooks and classical landscapes, recorded the Daddy of progressive albums, In the Court of the Crimson King.
RTH: There’s an amazing clip on YouTube of you and your fellow guitarist in Family each playing double-neck guitars for “Between Blue and Me,” with you on a bass/6-string and him on a 12-string/6-string. Did you often employ those guitars on the same song?
JW: Yes, this was an axe that went with the gig. I also learnt violin for some of Family’s repertoire. Charlie Whitney‘s was the iconic Gibson SG double-neck, mine was a slightly more ungainly Gibson, and agony to play for long periods.
Seems a nice chap! Great interview!
I’m a big fan of Manzanera’s early solo records, and Wetton made some notable appearances on them. I love his duet with Doreen Chanter on the odd-time-signature classic Same Time Next Week from the Diamond Head album. Great voice.
Good job on the interview, Mod. And Wetton definitely earns RTH Good Egg status.
Very cool, Mod.
Mr Wetton seems like such a nice guy that I may find it in my heart to forgive him and his UK cohorts for sonically traumatizing my 13 year old self back in ’77.
I love his answer to the “Beatles/Stones” question. He lists all these classical greats and The Beach Boys. Awesome! He just throws them in there like they fit. I wonder if he was referring to “Kokomo”-era?
“I was a Beatles boy, but influences were Beethoven, Bach, Beach Boys, and European church music in general: Pergolesi, Vivaldi, Tallis, Handel all feature prominently.”
That was a terrific interview! John seems really easy to talk to, and while that was a fairly long interview, my only complaint is it’s not longer. He did so much as a hired gun, I’d love to hear him go on at length about what that was like, but I suppose he’s actually very busy working. That was really nice of him to talk to us!
Yay! Three cheers for John Wetton! I may not be a fan of much of the music he’s been involved with, but that shouldn’t stop me from shouting from the rooftops that he is indeed a Rock Town Hall Good Egg.
Thanks, Mod, for the great innerview.
Great work, Mod. Who knew I could be so interested in Mr Whetton’s resume? Or in prog-rock.
Blimey, all those gigs with Asia, he must be seriously coining it.
I was deep in thought contemplating the 10cc/XTC/Styx Art Rock connection while doing some food shopping yesterday, when what should come over the store PA but Asia’s “Wildest Dreams.” No kidding. At an Ack-a-me, no less.
Man, he seemed to downplay it, but the dude does have some serious bass guitar skills. Nice work, Mr. Mod.