RTH: To me Red sounds more “timeless” or “ahead of its time” than any other album in progressive rock. Before your trio disbanded, did you feel like the band was on the brink of something new, or am I hearing the artistic end of the line?
JW: At the time of Red, Ian McDonald had been tempted back into the fold. For me, this was heading to be my dream team, and a band that I could see staying together for 20 years, but that was not a view shared by other members. I thought the potential to be endless, and was very disappointed that it did not carry on. The Floyd, who were very much in the same position, had broken through with the single “Money,” and Dark Side of the Moon was “doing nicely.” I felt that KC had the legs to go the distance, our live showing was on the up, gig attendances were very, very encouraging.
RTH: Next you joined Roxy Music, right? Were you considered a full-time member? Did you record with them as well as tour? It’s always a bit sketchy to me whether they had a permanent bassist.
JW: I joined Roxy Music because I knew them individually. Terrific guys, they asked me to vet their auditions for new bassists. When I turned in a verdict of thumbs down, they asked me if I would do it. Crimson had just imploded, they were at their peak of “pop” popularity, and I was a hired hand, but also a family friend, so I enjoyed privileges within the Roxy camp. It was tremendous fun, and I love the guys. Bryan and Phil are real gentlemen.
RTH: How would you characterize the differences in Fripp’s leadership in King Crimson to the dynamic in Roxy Music?
JW: There really is no comparison of the two bands—of one I was a writing, singing, playing component, in the other I was just doing a job–a very nice job, but still a job.
RTH: Over time, did Bryan Ferry make a concerted effort to exert more control over Roxy Music, or did the group come to a more settled approach naturally? The early albums and the first few after Eddie Jobson replaced Eno still have that sense of the unexpected. Then, it sounds like Phil Manzanera and the other “wildcards” in the band have been tamed or shackled. Were you there during this transition?
RTH: No, the only Roxy Music album I played on was Viva, although I made appearances on many of their solo projects (including Brian Eno’s Here Come The Warm Jets). I wasn’t really proxy to Roxy to that extent.
RTH: Somehow, in the ’70s, you also found time to play with Uriah Heep and Wishbone Ash, two heavy rock bands. Were you more of a gun-for-hire in those bands than you would be in your next band, UK?
JW: Very much so. I have a strong work ethic, and would always rather be working than going to the pub on a Saturday night. I was still looking for the band that would succeed Crimson in my career, UK was a close runner, but Asia delivered everything.