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Asia

Asia Biography


There is more than one band named Asia.


1) Asia is a progressive rock supergroup that was formed in the spring of 1981 by bassist and vocalist John Wetton (from King Crimson and UK), guitarist Steve Howe (from Yes), drummer Carl Palmer (from Emerson, Lake & Palmer), and keyboardist Geoffrey Downes (from Buggles and Yes). The band sold over nine million albums worldwide with their first release, ‘Asia’, which included the international rock hits “Heat of the Moment” and “Only Time Will Tell”.


Drawing inspiration from eccentric art rock as well as tuneful pop rock and other sources, the band’s first album was certified multi-platinum, and the follow-up, ‘Alpha’, proved almost as popular, boosted immensely by success of the U.S. number one hit “Don’t Cry.” Still, the mix of commitments of the band’s members contributed to group instability, as did corporate pressure for continual sales. Frontman John Wetton left the band completely in late 1983, sporadically returning in later stints. By 1990, Asia released its fourth album, called ‘Then & Now’, with the only original member Geoffrey Downes continuing under the band’s name along new bassist, vocalist, and producer John Payne.


Asia / Asia featuring John Payne toured and released marginally commercially successful albums, the last being the band’s 11th album ‘Silent Nation’. Said record notably included guitarist Guthrie Govan and drummer Chris Slade (from AC/DC). The original band emerged from its ashes, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the original formation that brought it success in 1982. with a tour of North America, a DVD, and a promotional CD. Payne continues to tour as a solo artist. Asia returned to stores on April 15, 2008 with its first original album from the original line-up, aptly titled ‘Phoenix’. A well-received tour soon followed.


That album received praise from publications such as the All Music Guide and debuted at No. 73 in the U.S. on the Billboard 200 chart. Though touring has remained limited due to multiple commitments by band members, Asia goes on, their last major release being the live album ‘Resonance: Live in Basel Switzerland’. Music critic Matt Collar remarked that it captured the tours’ appeal of Wetton’s “still powerful vocal chops”.


2) Asia was an excellent hard rock band with a drive for epic, pomp-filled rock tunes. The band was from Rapid City, South Dakota and should not be confused with the famous U.K. one, which sadly outshone them and ended up rendering the U.S. group highly obscure despite the U.S. one’s critical support. Going for a loose instrumental energy similar to Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin, their eventual line-up was made up of Michael English (vocals, bass, percussion), Larry Galbraith (vocals, guitars, mandolin), Mike Coates (guitars, mandolin, mellotron, piano, harpsichord, vocals), and Doug Johnson (percussion). They released two albums: Asia (1979) and Armed to the Teeth (1980).


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