Musician, songwriter, singer and “top bloke” (as Geoff Downes describes him), John Wetton lived a truly extraordinary life. In this book some seventy-plus people who knew and worked with John, from Family, King Crimson, Uriah Heep, Wishbone Ash, Roxy Music, U.K., Asia, the John Wetton solo band and beyond, pay tribute to that fact. Other contributors hail from the music industry and have compelling tributes to pay, equal to those from friends who knew John for decades, and his family.
Among the stories of friendship, music and sometimes craziness are reflections on what made John Wetton such an unforgettable man. His friends and family do not steer clear of his problems but rather explain the why, how, and triumph over them in honest and touching recollections. Scattered among the stories are personal and classic photos of John at work and play which add to the celebration of An Extraordinary Life.
The John Wetton Estate and Geoffrey Downes are pleased to announce the re-release of the iCon Trilogy of albums, now remastered with bonus tracks in six panel digipacks.
The re-releases have been personally overseen by Geoff Downes and are intended to be a return to the marketplace of individual albums for fans who may wish to purchase a definitive edition.
Of his song-writing relationship and the formation of iCon, Geoff Downes says, “Throughout my entire career, there is no doubt in my mind, that some of my proudest achievements have been the songs that I wrote with the late John Wetton. Not only were we great friends, but also blood brothers in the song-writing department. His magic rubbed off on me immensely, and outside of the hugely successful Asia template, we decided to step out together with our Icon project. It was a ‘bromance’ made in heaven, because here we had the chance to expand our innermost thoughts and variety of influences, without interference. It was effectively ‘us’. We also had the luxury of working with some of the finest musicians in the world who were willing participants in the project.”
For fans of the whole iCon legacy, a box set is being planned out featuring these albums and all the other recordings of the iCon duo, including previously unreleased material.
Geoff Downes continues,“The Wetton Downes Icon catalogue spans across some 4 studio albums, this trilogy plus a prequel album called Zero and various live releases, and incorporates some of our greatest collaborations I firmly believe, and I am happy to impart the news that this entire body of work is being re-released with all of the bonus tracks and some previously unheard renditions of our classic songs. It is in fact Icon in its entirety. If you appreciate the music of John & I, then I sincerely hope you will appreciate these re-issues. Please sit back and enjoy. I know John would be equally proud to see these projects back on the market. All of these recordings mark special periods in our personal and creative lives.
“’Icon 1′ was the foundation of the Asia reunion. ‘Rubicon’ is thronged with the mysticism, symbolism and multi layers that illuminate John’s lyrical prowess, virtually unrivalled in any era of creativity. John married events occurring in both our personal lives with Classical events in Roman History, crossing the Rubicon, the die is cast and some intensely personal reflections. His vocal performance is astounding. I look forward to discussing this amazing period in our lives at greater length in the box set planned for Christmas 2019.
“’Icon 3′ was a further milestone for us, with Dave Kilminster reuniting with John, a Japanese tour and possibly the most fulfilling DVD I have ever been involved in, Urban Psalm, filmed in St Mary Le Bow Church. I could reflect for hours and hours, take up the entire booklet, but for now…May our music live on forever.”
The albums are OUT NOW on the duo’s own Epicon Records via Cherry Red.
iCon Zero is a revised presentation of the Wetton/Downes album and is a precursor to their iCon series of albums. It is essentially a collection of tracks mostly recorded in the late 1980s through the time of their brief reformation in 1990.
The original version of the album was released in 2002 and in retrospect seemed like an iCon album from a previous era, so both John and Geoff readily agreed to it being brought into the iCon family. John came up with the name Zero, and both John and Geoff approved the new front cover artwork.
The album has received a 2017 remaster and includes two previously unreleased bonus tracks.
Geoff Downes reminisced about this time period in their joint career with these comments: “Icon Zero brings back many fond memories of working with John back in the early-mid 80s. Despite being the principal writers for Asia, we both felt there was at least one other string to our bow. This manifested itself in later years as the Icon project, and this album is an insight into the inner workings of our early relationship, not just as members of Asia, but also as songwriters. These recordings were made largely at weekends when we rented demo studios to try out our ‘other’ ideas and simply have some fun time away from the pressures of the music business. Most of these songs were put together in a few hours, and written on the fly. Then, they were recorded straight down that same day. One great aspect of this was, we always seemed came up with something new, and as the inspiration flowed it was captured there and then even in its embryonic form.”
Sadly John Wetton passed away in January 2017, but this release was already on the cards, with his Estate and Geoff Downes approving it going ahead as originally planned.
Geoff Downes had these further comments about his late bandmate: “John was a genius in every sense of the word, and I am most privileged to have been a big part of his career. The iCon project in itself stands alone as a complete cycle of our work together, and this album (iCon Zero) displays an important part of that development. The great John Wetton’s unique presence can be felt on every note and lyric of these songs. Please enjoy.”
iCon Zero will be followed by definitive edition re-releases of the subsequent three iCon albums, with bonus tracks, during 2018 with Geoff Downes’ personal approval.
The collaboration of the ASIA co-founders, John Wetton and Geoff Downes’ iCon, has led to the formation of Epicon Records (via Cherry Red) and its first release of Urban Psalm as a 2CD/1DVD set. The release was planned before John Wetton’s death in January 2017 and is fully approved by Geoff Downes and the Wetton Estate.
The concert was filmed at the iconic St Mary-le-Bow church in London and features a unique set including iCon songs, heritage tracks and the greatest hits of ASIA. This release of Urban Psalm is the first in a series of definitive re-releases of the iCon catalogue.
The Urban Pslam recording also features Dave Kilminster (Roger Waters, Keith Emerson) on guitars, Pete Riley (whom John called “the best drummer in the world” and played with Keith Emerson alongside Dave), Panic Room’s Anne-Marie Helder on vocals and ELO’s Hugh McDowell played cello.
Of the release Geoff Downes said: “Urban Psalm emerged out of a very special one-time concert featuring the music of John and I. Set in an historic church in London, the concert was recorded and filmed. Concert goers received a DVD as part of their attendance. Few people had the opportunity to see this live and until now has had very limited fan-based distribution”
The setting was historic and intimate and the film has not been shared widely until now, although fans came from around the world to participate.