Category Archives: Blog

John Wetton, Prog Rock Legend Passes Away

by Attila Juhasz

JOHN WETTON (Born June 12, 1949, Died January 31, 2017)
I am deeply saddened by the loss of John Wetton. While I did not know the man personally, my relation is strictly through the enjoyment and experiences of decades of music that he has provided.

Listen to anything featuring John Wetton and it will touch your heart and soul.

URIAH HEEP
My first encounter with Wetton was in the late ’70s when he joined Uriah Heep. I have been a Heepster since their debut record in 1970. I was only 8 years old in 1970, but having an older teenage brother, exposed me to the great surge of ’70s hard and progressive rock to come. I became a self-proclaimed music aficionado early in life.  😉

So who was this John Wetton who replaced the late, great and very young Gary Thain on the new Heep album ‘Return to Fantasy’ in 1975? I wasn’t aware of his earlier stint with King Crimson yet. Needless to say, the bass chops were there.  Wetton was perfect.

Then came ‘High and Mighty’ in 1976. When I played the opening track, “One Way or Another” I was taken aback as someone other than Byron or Hensley was singing. It was different. It was aggressively unique. It was Wetton. A signature type prog rock vocal style that I made akin to Greg Lake from ELP. Then I learned that earlier Wetton, like Lake a few years before him, performed vocals and bass for King Crimson.

U.K.
It wasn’t until Wetton released U.K.’s self-titled debut in 1978 that Wetton was propelled as one of my favorite bass players, composers and vocalists in prog rock. The debut U.K. album is a definitive prog rock album featuring Eddie Jobson, Allan Holdsworth and Bill Bruford. Wetton created a masterpiece.

In 1979, U.K. released their sophomore effort ‘Danger Money.’ This time without Holdsworth and with Terry Bozzio on drums replacing Bruford. Bozzio is brilliant.

Then late in 1979 I finally saw Wetton live with U.K. at NYC’s Madison Square Garden opening for Jethro Tull. I was utterly blow away with how tight they were. Wetton’s vocals and play were spot on perfect. Bozzio’s performance rivaled and perhaps surpassed all the greats that I had seen up until then including my favorites Neil Peart, Phil Collins and Lee Kerslake.

ASIA
In 1982 Wetton formed his supergroup Asia with Geoff Downes, Steve Howe and Carl Palmer. While I loved the group, it was lighter in the commercial vein than the prog rock excellence I was expecting from this line-up. I never did see the original original tour.

In 2006, Wetton reformed the original line-up of Asia and went on tour. Of course I saw that show twice. 🙂  In 2008, Asia released a new album called “Phoenix.” While preserving the sound they perfected in the 80s, I found “Phoenix” to be superior to the initial 80s releases. This was a fantastic comeback. In fact Omega (2010), XXX (2012) and Gravitas (2014) were all great releases. I was fortunate enough to see Asia several more times in support of the first 3 new releases.

U.K. 2012
But my biggest thrill was yet to come. A brief but extraordinary reunion and tour of UK with Jobson and Bozzio was announced. On May 21, 2012, I witnessed an absolute magical brilliant night of musicianship. They were perfect in every way.

So much music. So much history. So many memories. Listen to anything featuring John Wetton and it will touch your heart and soul.

I wish John Wetton’s family and friends my deepest condolences. I adored his music and will continue to appreciate his tremendous catalog of music.

Roye Albrighton Remembered and My Work and Times with Nektar

by Attila Juhasz

One of the most influential guitarist in my life, Roye Albrighton of Nektar,  passed away yesterday. His music influenced my style of guitar playing and songwriting but more importantly, Roye and Nektar impacted my professional involvement in the music industry.

I first became of fan of Nektar in the ’70s after hearing their top 20 (album chart) Gold Record masterpiece ‘Remember the Future’ and fell in love with their entire brilliant catalog. In 1977, I saw Nektar live at NYC’s Palladium on the ‘Magic is a Child’ tour, but sadly Roye Albrighton had left Nektar at that time.

In 1980 though, Albrighton along with original Nektar keyboard player, Taff Freeman, re-formed Nektar with a new bass player and drummer and released ‘Man in the Moon’ and they were coming to my city, Yonkers, NY, to perform live. I was friends with the promoter who knew about my artistic skills, and asked me to design flyers and posters for the gig. Though only a senior in High School, this was my first of many creative assignments to come for a major rock and roll act. I met Roye Albrighton at that gig and my love and passion for rock and roll grew even greater. Sadly that was the last we would hear about Nektar for nearly 20 years.

In 1997, I built and launched a big Nektar fan site, Nektar.com which gained a massive fan base and suddenly, Nektar CDs started moving off shelves world-wide. I started a movement to praise and remember this iconic, important band as well as hopefully expose them to a new audience. Another big reason for my efforts was that a horrible mix of the iconic album ‘Remember the Future’ was the current and only CD release of this masterpiece. I was on a mission to have this corrected.

nektarcom

I decided to reach out to the band members. I started email dialogue with Roye Albrighton, who loved my web site. We conducted a series of interviews called the “Roye Albrighton Chronicles.” He shared loads of fun facts and stories like the night he jammed with Jimi Hendrix in a bar. The site got even bigger. Roye then mailed me a very special gift; a custom CD he made for me called “Fruition by Roye Albrighton” that featured some unreleased live material and studio tracks from his home studio that I, nor many people, had ever heard.

Roye-albrighton-fruition

I then started having phone conversations with Nektar bassist Derek “Mo” Moore who told me that the labels have informed him that Nektar sales were suddenly on the rise again. We talked about the horrible RTF mix that was released on CD. He told me the label used the wrong master; one that should’ve been destroyed. He had spoken with his label and assured me that a proper release of RTF was to be released. 

He also told me that he hadn’t spoke to Roye in years, but felt that the time was right now for them to reconnect. He did. Old friends had finally reconnected.

On April 5, 1998, I held and moderated a live chat between Derek and Nektar fans and there he divulged that there is the possibility of a reformation of Nektar and that Roye had already sent him some new material.

The web site was getting too big for me to operate on a volunteer basis so I handed the reigns of the site to another Nektar fan in early 2000 who inevitably let the site go but by then the next chapter in the history of Nektar was well underway.

In 2002, a once unimaginable event happened Roye Albrighton, Derek Moore, Taff Freeman and Ron Howden regrouped and Nektar headlined NEARfest. Also joining the Nektar family that night was original light show master and fifth member Mick Brokett and “Recycled” guest synthesizer player, Larry Fast.

2002 also saw the release of the first Nektar studio album ‘The Prodigal Son’ in over 22 years featuring Roye Ablrighton and Taff Freeman. Nektar subsequently released a few more studio albums.

While I am deeply saddened of the lost of Roye Albrighton, I am happy to know that my love and work for the band helped reunite some old friends that sparked a reunion, some new music, and rekindled interest in one of the greatest bands to come out of the ’70s. So on this day, not only will I “remember the future will always be there,” but I remember Roye Albrighton, one of the greats.

Nektar 29.08.09 Waldbühne Northeim LC
Nektar
29.08.09 Waldbühne Northeim
LC