Tuesday, January 31, 2017

John Wetton dead at 67

John Kenneth Wetton
June 12, 1949  - January 31, 2017

John Wetton, bassist for King Crimson and many other bands, passed away this morning in his sleep after a long battle with colon cancer. Wetton was 67 years old. 

In his early career, Wetton was in several different bands. Some of his early bands included Mogul Thrash, Renaissance and Family. Shortly after his brief stay in Family, Wetton joined prog rockers King Crimson as their bassist and lead singer. While still successful at the time, the three albums that followed the band's iconic debut album received lukewarm responses. With Wetton, King Crimson released a trio of well received albums- Larks' Tongue In Aspic (1973), Starless and Bible Black (1974) and Red (1974). Wenton was with the band until guitarist and founding member Robert Fripp announced the split in 1974 (the band would reunite years later but Wetton didn't rejoin). 

After the split of King Crimson, Wetton joined Uriah Heep in 1975- replacing bassist Gary Thain. Wetton would record two albums with the band- Return to Fantasy (1975) and High and Mighty (1976)- before leaving in 1977.  From 1977 to 1981, Wetton was in the short-lived supergroup UK and briefly joined Wishbone Ash for their 1981 album Number the Brave. Wetton also started a solo career- his debut being 1980's Caught in the Crossfire. It wasn't until 1981 when Wetton found himself working with Yes guitarist Steve Howe, ELP drummer Carl Palmer and Buggles/Yes keyboardist Geoff Downes. This new band would become the supergroup Asia- who achieved commercial success with the release of their self-titled debut, which featured the hit single "Heat of the Moment." Asia would split in 1986 but reunited on/off over the years since 1989. In 2007, Wetton's health started to decline due to a heart condition- which Wetton attributed to his battle with alcoholism. In May 2015, Wetton underwent surgery to have a cancerous growth removed. Earlier this month, Wetton announced he would not be taking part in Asia's 2017 tour with Journey, with current Yes bassist Billy Sherwood filling in for him. 

Wetton is survived by his wife Lisa, his son Dylan, his brother Robert and his mother Peggy. 

It's sad to hear about Mr. Wetton's passing. He was an immensely talented bassist and it's amazing to look at his long list of credits. The man left us with some great music.

May he rest in peace. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Geoff Nicholls dead at 68

Geoffrey James Nicholls
February 28, 1948 - January 28, 2017

Former Black Sabbath keyboardist Geoff Nicholls died this morning after a long battle with lung cancer. Nicholls was 68 years old. According to Blabbermouth, Nicholls' cancer was said to be in remission but Nicholls had succumbed to the side effects of the chemotherapy. 

Nicholls joined Black Sabbath in 1979. At that point in time, the band had hired former Rainbow singer Ronnie James Dio to replace original singer Ozzy Osbourne. Nicholls' first album with the band was 1980's Heaven and Hell. Throughout his time in the band, Nicholls was often credited as an unofficial member- as he didn't appear in promotional band pictures. However by the mid 1980s, Nicholls was in pictures with the band. Whether he was an unofficial member or not, Nicholls was in Black Sabbath for many years from 1979 to 2004. Prior to joining Sabbath, Nicholls played keyboards for heavy metal band Quartz from 1974 to 1979. 

Tributes have been posted by the social media pages for the members of Black Sabbath. 

Tony Iommi: I'm so saddened to hear the loss of one of my dearest and closest friends Geoff Nicholls. He's been suffering for a while now with lung cancer and he lost his battle this morning. Geoff and I have always been very close and he has been a real true friend to me and support me all the way for nearly 40 years. I will miss him dearly and he will live in my heart until we meet again. Rest in Peace my dead friend. 

Geezer Butler: Very sad to hear of old friend and Sabbath keyboard player Geoff Nicholls' passing. RIP Geoff. 

Ozzy Osbourne: Geoff Nicholls was a great friend of mine for a long time. He will be greatly missed. I'm very saddened at the news. 

Tony Martin (Sabbath singer 1987-91 and 1993-95): Saddened to hear of the passing of Geoff Nicholls...keyboard player and friend from Sabbath...Safe journey mate. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Overend Watts dead at 69

Peter "Overend" Watts
May 13, 1947 - January 22, 2017

Pete "Overend" Watts, bassist and co-founding member of glam rockers Mott the Hoople, died today. According to the Mott Road Crew Live Facebook page, Watts died in his sleep after a long battle with throat cancer. Watt was 69. 

Watts was attending Ross Grammar School when he started learning to play guitar. By 1965, he started playing bass and found himself in a band called the Buddies with guitarist Mick Ralphs. The band would go through several changes before finally becoming Mott the Hoople in 1969. The band's original line-up consisted of Watts, Ralphs, singer/songwriter Ian Hunter, drummer Dale "Buffin" Griffin and keyboardist Verden Allen. Mentored by Guy Stevens, Mott the Hoople struggled early in their career. While the band had its fan base, the band couldn't nab a hit single. The band considered calling it a day in 1972 until singer David Bowie came to the rescue. Bowie told the band not to break up, offering to produce their fifth album. That album, All The Young Dudes, saved the band's career thanks in part to the album's title track- which was written by Bowie. 

With their success, Mott the Hoople went on the achieve success with hit singles such as  "All the Way from Memphis," "Roll Away the Stone" and "The Golden Age of Rock N Roll." The band stopped using the Mott the Hoople name after Hunter left in 1974. The remaining members would continue on as Mott for two albums and then as British Lions before breaking up in 1980. Watts and Griffin were the only two members from the original line-up that stuck through the band's entire run from 1969 to 1980. After the band's split, Watts continued to work in music. During the 1980s, Watts would produce albums for bands such as Hanoi Rocks. Mott the Hoople would reunite in 2009 and 2013 for a short run of shows. Watts' death comes a year after the death of Dale Griffin, who died in January 2016 after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. 

Ian Hunter posted on Facebook and social media- paying tribute to Watts, saying...

"Oh dear. My extremely eccentric, lovely mate- Peter Overend Watts- has left the building. Devastated."

RIP Overend.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

George Harrison's solo albums to be reissued on vinyl

UMe have announced that the solo albums released by former Beatle George Harrison will be reissued on vinyl on February 24th- just in time for what would've been Harrison's 74th birthday. The albums will be reissued in a lavishly packaged box set- containing 18 vinyl records. All of the albums have been newly remastered and will all be on heavyweight 180 gram vinyl. Each album will be faithful to the original releases, complete with inserts and posters.

The albums included in the box set are:

Wonderwall Music (1968)
Electronic Sound (1969)
All Things Must Pass (1970- 3 LPs)
Living in the Material World (1973)
Dark Horse (1974)
Extra Texture- Read All About It (1975)
Thirty Three and 1/3 (1976)
George Harrison (1979)
Somewhere in England (1981)
Gone Troppo (1982)
Cloud Nine (1987)
Live in Japan (1992- 2 LPs)
Brainwashed (2002)

There is also two picture discs included in the box set for the Cloud Nine singles "When We Was Fab" and "I Got My Mind Set On You."

The albums in the box set will also receive individual releases, with the exception of the All Things Must Pass reissue- which will be sold individually for a limited time.

Along with this box set, Harrison's 1980 autobiography I Me Mine will be re-released with new pages added- picking up where the 1980 book left off. Included in the new book will be lyrics to 141 songs and unpublished pictures.

You can pre-order the box set on Amazon for $466.98. Click here to pre-order it, or any of the individual albums.