First, some John Wetton trivia: What legendary bassist directly replaced you in two bands?
That would have to be Trevor Bolder. Greg Lake replaced me in Asia, and I him in KC.
When you were in King Crimson, did you or your bandmates ever pull a prank involving Fripp’s stool? Guitar stool, that is…
Certainly not, we did put a concrete ‘Big Boy’ statue outside his hotel room once.
You’ve played with probably 90% of the musicians who would be listed in Pete Frame’s Rock Family Tree for the Prog-Rock scene. Is there one musician from that scene you most wish you could have played with?
I’d like to have done more with Phil Collins. We were involved together in
two albums, but I’d love to have seen what we would have done with a free rein.
You did some studio work in the early ’70s with George Martin. Do you recall the first Beatles question you asked him?
I got on really well with George, and did quite a lot of work with him. He helped me enormously, and is a terrific man. There is one priceless moment that I will treasure with George. A guitar player was busy throwing down a solo over a song that we were working on. George turned to look at me, pressed the “dim” button, and said, “John, does it bother you that James is playing OUTSIDE the chords?”
“Yes, George, it does.”
“Then be a good fellow and take him your chord-sheet, would you?”
I don’t think we talked Beatles very much at all—this was only one year after their break up. Many years later, I was privileged to spend time (and write) with Richard
Starkey, and there is no doubting the almost palpable magic that surrounds that exclusive band of people.
Today I just realized (or was reminded – it’s been a long time since my old eyes scanned the album credits) that you played on my favorite Bryan Ferry solo album, Let’s Stick Together! Can I shake your hand?
Yes, you can, because I did.
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.