Asia (Band)

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Steve Howe und Carl Palmer live (2006)
Steve Howe and Carl Palmer live (2006)
General information
Genre(s) Rock, Stadium Rock
Foundation 1981, 1989
Resolution 1985
Founding members
Keyboard, Vocals
Geoff Downes (1981-1985, 1987, since 1990)
Vocals, Bass
John Wetton † (1981-1983, 1984-1991, 1998-1999, 2006-2017)
Steve Howe (1981-1984, 1992, 2006-2013)
Carl Palmer (1981-1992, 1998-1999, since 2006)
Current cast
Keyboard, Vocals
Geoff Downes (1981-1985, 1987, since 1990)
Carl Palmer (1981-1992, 1998-1999, since 2006)
Bass, Vocals (2017-2019)
Billy Sherwood (since 2017)
Vocals, Guitar
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (2019-present)
Former members
Vocals, Bass
Greg Lake † (1983)
Mandy Meyer (1985)
Scott Gorham (1990-1991)
Pat Thrall (1990-1991)
Vocals, Bass, Guitar
John Payne (1991-2006)
Keith More (1993)
Tomoyasu Hotei (1994)
Ian Crichton (1997-1999)
Chris Slade (1999-2005)
Sam Coulson (2013-2018)

Asia is a British supergroup formed in 1981 from musicians who had played with Yes, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Saga, King Crimson, Uriah Heep, the Buggles and UK, among others. Their most successful song is 1982’s Heat of the Moment.


Prehistory (1980-1981)

After the decline of progressive rock at the end of the 1970s, most of the genre’s renowned music groups had disbanded, leaving numerous musicians suddenly without their own band or record deal. Since 1980, several attempts were made to form a supergroup. They were brokered by managers and record companies and mostly revolved around the South African guitarist and singer Trevor Rabin, who had come to London shortly before.

One possible newlineup (lineup) that did not materialize, however, consisted of former Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman, former King Crimson, Uriah Heep, and UK member John Wetton, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer drummer Carl Palmer, in addition to Rabin.

However, at the suggestion of Yes manager Brian Lane, John Wetton teamed up with guitarist Steve Howe, who had just finished working with Yes’ progressive rock forerunners. Together they worked up early versions of the later Asia songs Cutting It Fine, Without You and Here Comes the Feeling, all based on ideas from John Wetton. John Kalodner, then at Atlantic Records, had been trying to get something going with Wetton since the end of King Crimson. He brought together a team around Wetton and Howe that consisted of managers Brian Lane and David Geffen, (the later co-founder of Dreamworks movie studios). The latter had just started his own record label, Geffen Records. Kalodner also brought in Queen producer Mike Stone.

At first Wetton and Howe rehearsed with drummer Simon Phillips, but the collaboration did not work. Moreover, Phillips demanded too high a financial share. Then the Yes drummer Alan White was in the conversation. But next they turned to drummer Carl Palmer, previously with Emerson, Lake and Palmer and PM. He agreed and suggested to bring another keyboard player into the band, because he saw a keyboard-oriented rock music coming with the 80s. Initially, Wakeman’s involvement was again discussed, but Howe suggested the writer of the hit Video Killed the Radio Star (The Buggles, 1980), Geoff Downes, with whom he had worked shortly before in Yes. For some time, they thought of bringing in a second singer in addition, and a number of musicians were invited, including Trevor Rabin again, but ultimately decided against it, mainly because Wetton didn’t want to split the vocals and Howe the guitar work. Rabin had performed the songs Here Comes the Feeling and Starry Eyes (later Only Time Will Tell) with the band.

The band name “Asia” goes back to a suggestion by Brian Lane. Previously, MI5, the name of the British secret service, had been thought of.

Debut album (1981-1982)

The newly founded label Geffens had already signed Asia before they had even heard a single note of the new tracks. Work began in the summer of 1981 at London’s Townhouse Studios. From the beginning it was clear to all involved that they didn’t want to make a progressive rock album, despite the musicians’ past. Concise songs and a unified, cohesive band sound were to characterize the new band. The Wetton/Howe songs(Cutting It Fine, Without You, Here Comes the Feeling and One Step Closer) were now joined by more and more tracks that Wetton co-wrote with Downes, including Wildest Dreams, Sole Survivor, Only Time Will Tell and Heat of the Moment. The two musicians formed a very successful and creative songwriting team that would define the band’s output over the next few years. The two became fast friends, something Wetton was never to achieve with Howe. The two also had a very good relationship with Mike Stone. As a result, the progressive rock elements that Howe stood for receded further and further. The work on the debut album progressed quickly and in November 1981 the recording sessions were completed.

For the cover design Howe suggested the fantasy artist Roger Dean, who had already designed many covers for Yes. Roger Dean designed a triangular Asia logo that was as dissimilar to the round Yes logo as possible. It adorns all of the band’s official releases to this day.

Supported by a large-scale advertising campaign, the debut album Asia, released on 8 March 1982, surprisingly placed in the top chart regions despite not too positive reviews. The single Heat of the Moment became a hit. The video for the single was directed by Kevin Godley and Lol Creme (formerly of 10cc). It allowed the band, supported by the then still quite new music channel MTV, to conquer television as well.

Asia played bombastic “stadium rock” with an emphasis on catchy melodies on their debut album. The new mix found its audience, and Asia were on a roll with a seven-million-copy[1] (other source: nine million[2]The album spawned six singles: Heat of the Moment, Sole Survivor, Wildest Dreams, Here Comes the Feeling, Only Time Will Tell and Time Again.

After the band had rehearsed in Pennsylvania in the spring, they went on tour. However, the organizers had been surprised by the band’s success, so that a too short tour from April to October 1982 in too small halls had been booked. It was decided, against the wishes of Wetton, Downes and Palmer, to return to the studio as soon as possible at the end of this tour to work on an even more successful follow-up album. In retrospect, however, this decision proved to be unwise.

Alpha (1982-1983)

Some reviews of the first album criticized the slickness of the production, while others referred to the progressive/bombast rock past of the four musicians, which was revealed in songs like Here Comes the Feeling. Management and the record company pushed to completely eliminate these progressive rock elements on the follow-up, shifting the style further toward the mainstream. A market study revealed that the Wetton/Downes team’s songs(Heat of the Moment, Only Time Will Tell, Sole Survivor, and Wildest Dreams) were the more successful, so the band was arranged to have Wetton and Downes as sole songwriters for the next album.

This decision caused first tensions in the band: Howe felt put in the second row, while Wetton and Downes felt the pressure to write an even more successful follow-up to the hit single Heat of the Moment. For tax reasons, the band worked not in England but in Morin Heights, Canada, a town in the Laurentian Mountains with a population of about 3500. Morin Heights proved so lonely that the band members got on each other’s nerves during the winter recording sessions. Howe and Wetton subsequently fell out to such an extent that the two could hardly work together: Howe wanted to keep the progressive elements of the first album, Wetton wanted to go in a more commercial direction and had the support of the record company and thus producer Mike Stone. The pressure put on him to write another hit album and his alcoholism also did not contribute to the album’s success: Wetton could only sing for an hour and a half on some days, so recording sessions often had to be stopped all too soon. In addition, Geoffrey Downes was ill for a long time. Howe was no longer involved in the songwriting, with the exception of the track Lying to Yourself, which was, however, only released as a single B-side. When technical problems came along and the studio was down for three weeks, the band members, who had spent as little time together as possible anyway, left Canada.

Mike Stone now mixed the album alone, which caused dissatisfaction among the musicians. Stone’s wall-of-sound production standardized the sound of the album so much that the individual instruments could no longer be heard as differentiated as on the debut. Several mixes were even rejected by label boss Geffen, so in the end a compromise was released.

The album was a success, but only sold about half as many copies as the debut album. The album and the singles Don’t Cry and The Smile Has Left Your Eyes did not reach chart-toppers until after the Asian Invasion tour ended on September 10, 1983.

This tour started in the United States in the summer of 1983 before the release of the new album. Many halls were booked in cities where the band had played before, so ticket sales were slow. For example, in Toledo, Ohio, only 2500 tickets were sold for a 15000 seat venue. So the second half of the tour was cancelled. Because of this mismanagement the band could only half sell out many halls. The lack of big success and the difficult recording sessions led to further quarrels in the band. The musicians traveled separately and hardly spoke to each other. After a few weeks, the relationship between Wetton and Howe in particular had deteriorated further.

Asia in Asia (Winter 1983)

Wetton then went on vacation to the south of France and did not show up for a meeting with Kalodner and Geffen. From there he called Geoffrey Downes to discuss details of the next album, and learned from him that Brian Lane wanted to replace him. The very next day Wetton travelled to London, where he was told that the band, especially Howe and Palmer, but also the management and the record company actually wanted to part with him. The reason was the failure of the second album, for which they blamed the songwriter Wetton and his alcoholism. At the same time neither Lane nor Geffen wanted to let Wetton go – he had to turn down a lucrative offer from Atlantic Records.

In this situation, Wetton’s replacement had to be found quickly. At first Brad Delp from Boston was considered, and even Trevor Horn, Downes’ former partner in the Buggles, was talked about. In the end, however, Palmer’s former ELP-mate Greg Lake was chosen, a thought that was obvious anyway due to vocal similarities to Wetton. Palmer contacted him and Lake agreed after he had a conversation with his friend Wetton.

Concerts in Japan had already been booked for December, which included a worldwide live broadcast of a December 6 concert in Tokyo by the TV station MTV. In the summer, commercials and a documentary had been shot for it, in which John Wetton had already barely been seen. Lake performed the tour with the help of a teleprompter. The songs had to be transposed a third lower to fit his voice. Shortly after the concerts, a video cassette and a laser disc with the MTV recording appeared under the title Asia in Asia. It was not until 2005 that the audio recording followed under the title Enso Kai – Live at the Budokan Tokyo. Lake wanted to take the band’s musical style in a more sophisticated direction, but this was rejected by the other musicians. By Christmas it was clear that he would not stay with Asia.

Astra and the breakup of the band (winter 1983-1985)

In the meantime, Wetton had begun work on a solo album. Then, in January 1984, management and record company decided that he should return to the band. Downes and Palmer were also in favour. Wetton agreed, albeit reluctantly at first. He began writing new songs in collaboration with Downes. In April, the band went into the studio to record their first demos. After some time, Wetton then made it clear that he could no longer work with Howe. Since Wetton had just been brought back into the band, it was clear that Howe had to go. He left Asia and, together with former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, formed the band GTR to make progressive, guitar-driven rock music[3] rock music.

A replacement for Howe was hard to find. At first they thought about hiring someone like Jeff Beck or David Gilmour as session guitarist. Also the Magnum guitarist Robin George was inquired. In the end Geffen Records suggested the Swiss Armand “Mandy” Meyer (former Krokus), who finally became a new band member through the mediation of Kalodner.

It was equally difficult to agree on a producer. At first they thought of Martin Rushent, who had previously produced Joy Division, XTC and The Stranglers. But Rushent cancelled because he was busy with a Human League album. Finally they agreed on Mike Stone again – a decision that was quite controversial within the band.

The band subsequently recorded ten of 25 prepared songs for the next album. The recordings took four months longer than planned and Mike Stone, who had already committed to other projects, left the team in frustration. For a while Downes took over his duties until Greg Ladanyi was found to mix the album. However, this mix turned out to be completely unsuitable. So Mike Stone, who had finished his other projects in the meantime, was brought back. Together with Downes, he was to finish the work on the album, which was initially called Arcadia. The whole project had taken almost two years until its release on November 15, 1985.

At the last minute, the title of the album, for whose cover Roger Dean was once again responsible, had to be changed to Astra, because a Duran Duran offshoot wanted to give itself and its debut album the name Arcadia.

The album contains some very catchy tracks and is called the best album of early Asia by some critics. However, it did not go on to have any significant success. Even with the help of an elaborate video that told the story of a robot named Aza, which would be continued in later videos, the single Go only reached #46 in the US charts, by now Asia’s most important market. Astra itself only reached #67, and a compilation EP called Aurora, released only in Japan, also did little to help record sales. As a result, the planned tour for Astra never materialized, after which the band fell apart.

After the dissolution (1986-1987)

Wetton and Palmer played two concerts with Phil Manzanera, Robin George and Don Airey as “John Wetton & Friends” at the Marquee Club in London in June 1986, where they also played some Asia songs. This was seen by some fans as an attempt to revive Asia, but was never intended by either of them. In 1987, after a failed attempt by Palmer’s manager Brian Lane to bring Emerson, Lake and Palmer back together, Palmer formed the band Three with Keith Emerson.

1987 saw the release of solo albums by Wetton(Wetton/Manzanera) and Downes(The Light Program). Another project with Wetton’s sole participation, however, bore the name “Asia”: for the soundtrack to Sylvester Stallone’s film Over the Top, songwriter and producer Giorgio Moroder hired Wetton to sing Gypsy Soul and Winner Takes It All. These songs subsequently traded as contributions from the band Asia.

Restart attempts (1987-1989)

At the same time, Wetton and Downes continued to write songs together, mostly ballads, though without contemplating a new project.

After the debut album of 1986, Downes also produced the second, until today unreleased album of Steve Howe’s band GTR in 1987. John Wetton first worked with Max Bacon, the GTR singer, when both joined Tom and Mel Galley’s rock music project through the mediation of “Metal Hammer” co-founder and “Phenomena” co-producer Wilfried F. Rimensberger. There Wetton also met drummer Michael Sturgis and guitarist Scott Gorham (Thin Lizzy).

Still in 1987 there was a first reunion attempt. Downes and Wetton started to rehearse old Asia songs with Sturgis and Gorham. But a record deal with EG or Capitol did not materialize. Only JVC Japan wanted to sign the band. However, as the band wanted an eventual next album to be released worldwide, Wetton left the band. Later, only the track Summer (Can’t Last Too Long), appeared from this lineup on the Then and Now sampler (1990), as well as a demo of the song Kari-Anne on the 2001 Wetton/Downes sampler. The song Boys from Diamond City, also written during this time, was sung by Wetton. However, a version featuring John Payne would later be released on the Asia rarities album Archiva 1. Geoff Downes worked with him after Wetton’s departure as part of his now subsequent Rain project, which had emerged from the failed Asia reunion:

Downes, Sturgis and Gorham, at the suggestion of John Kalodner, had teamed up with Phil Spalding, the former bassist, and Max Bacon, the former singer of GTR, to write songs for a project called Rain. Also involved was songwriter Johnny Warman and, from early 1988, singer and bassist John Payne, whom Downes had met through Spalding. During these sessions, numerous songs were written, sung by both Bacon and, later, Payne. Some of them were released years later on albums by Downes, Bacon and Asia. Songs later also performed by Asia included Who Will Stop the Rain?, after which the project was named, and Someday, released in versions sung by Bacon on Bacon’s solo album From the Banks of the River Irwell (2002) (the former as Who Can Stop the Rain). Revised versions sung by Payne appeared on the Asia album Aqua (1992). Boys from Diamond City (with Sturgis and Gorham, this track was left over from the previous Asia reboot attempt, and was sung by both Bacon and Payne after Wetton), Tears, Moon Under (the) Water (sung by both Bacon and Payne), Satellite Blues (sung by both Warman and Payne) and The Higher You Climb (with Sturgis and Gorham, initially sung by Bacon) were released on the 1996 Asia Rarities albums Archiva 1 and Archiva 2.

Downes now turned to a new project that brought him together with former King Crimson drummer Michael Giles and former Asia singer Greg Lake. The year-long collaboration under the project name Ride the Tiger yielded eight new songs, some of which, however, have remained unreleased to this day. Of these songs, Love Under Fire, sung by John Payne, is featured on the Asia album Aqua. An early version of the track with Lake’s vocals later appeared on From the Beginning. The Greg Lake Retrospective.

In late 1989, four years after the release of Astra, Palmer and Wetton reformed Asia. They toured with John Young (keyboards, ex-Uli Jon Roth) and Alan Darby (guitar, previously Cado Belle, Fashion) and background singers Zoe Nicholas and Susie Webb together with the English band It Bites for a short time in the support of the Beach Boys. Having regained a taste for Project Asia, Palmer and Wetton extended the tour by two months. During this time they played in small halls and discotheques in Germany. For a short time a participation of Geoff Downes seemed possible. But in the end Young had to step in again because Downes was busy with the Ride the Tiger project at that time. Alan Darby was replaced by the German Holger Larisch. During these concerts a new Asia piece called Kari-Anne was introduced. The positive response from the audience encouraged Wetton and Palmer to embark on a major comeback. Geoffrey Downes was brought back into the band.

The sampler Then and Now and Asia Live in MOCKBA (Wetton, Downes, Palmer, Thrall, 1990)

In the summer of 1990, the sampler Then and Now was to be released on Geffen. The record company contacted Wetton asking if he would be interested in contributing new material to this sampler. They decided on a remnant of the Astra sessions: for Am I in Love, for Summer (Can’t Last Too Long), which had been written in 1987 with Michael Sturgis and Scott Gorham, for Days Like These by the American musician Steve Jones and for Prayin’ 4 a Miracle, which Wetton had written with his friend, the ex-teen star David Cassidy. Various guitarists recorded the songs, including Steve Lukather of Toto. Now, at the suggestion of John Kalodner, Wetton, Palmer and Downes brought Pat Thrall, who had previously played with Meat Loaf and Pat Travers, into the band as a permanent guitarist. Wetton had met him while working on the Phenomena project. With this lineup, the band went on tour. The first concert was in East Berlin on June 17, 1990. A concert on 23 June in Nottingham was later released as a video.

A month later, on 28 July, Then and Now was released – with little success. The album only reached number 117 in the U.S. The single Days Like These, which had initially reached number one in the AOR section of the U.S. charts, also flopped – it only made number 64 overall. A video for Days Like These, which had been filmed beforehand, was never released.

While the tour moved on to the USA in August and Japan in September, the musicians worked on new songs, none of which ever appeared on an Asia album. A subsequent US tour supporting The Moody Blues and Fleetwood Mac never materialized because neither band wanted Asia to open for them. However, the band was able to celebrate a triumph on 17 and 18 November 1990 in Moscow’s Olympic Hall in front of 20,000 enthusiastic spectators. The concert was released under the title Asia Live in MOCKBA. A video was also shot in Moscow for Prayin’ 4 a Miracle, which was intended as the follow-up single to Days Like These. However, given the lack of success of the album and single, this was never released either. Prayin’ 4 a Miracle, already pressed, was withdrawn by Geffen.

In December, the band then toured Germany and Austria. In view of the lack of success of the album and single, however, the band members lost interest in Asia. A final South American tour was for all involved, but especially for Wetton, only fulfillment of duty. After returning to England, he and Palmer left the band for good. Wetton concentrated on his solo career, Palmer had seized the opportunity to reform ELP.

New start with Aqua (1991-1993)

After the inglorious end of the last tour in April 1991 Geoff Downes decided, with the support of Sir Henry Cowell and the ARC management, to rebuild Asia with a different concept. At first he considered Pat Thrall for a new line-up, but he had already returned to the USA. Wetton refused, the frustration towards the end of the last tour had been too big. Besides he didn’t get along with Cowell. Downes then teamed up with bassist and singer John Payne, whom he had previously met at the Rain Sessions. Together they wrote the first songs for a new Asia album.

Downes was careful not to let the band fall into the nostalgia corner and wanted to include some younger musicians in the band. However, he didn’t want to make the generation change as abruptly as possible in order to alienate as few supporters of the old line-up as possible. Since only Downes himself remained from the old line-up and not only singer John Wetton had to be replaced, but also a new drummer and a new guitarist had to be found, he was faced with the problem of being able to credibly introduce and market a new band as Asia. He therefore secured the cooperation of Carl Palmer and Steve Howe as guest musicians. Neither were enthusiastic about playing for Asia again, as they were working on other projects at the same time (Palmer recorded the comeback album Black Moon with the reformed Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Howe worked on the Yes album Union as well as his solo album Turbulence), but agreed to support the new Asia. Not only would this make the lineup change easier for fans, it would also be beneficial for the album’s sales. Palmer also signed over his rights to the name “Asia” to his friend Downes, in order to allow him a problem-free new start with Aqua, as it was foreseeable that at least Wetton would otherwise take legal action against the continued use of the band name by only one founding member.

In addition to Downes, Payne, Howe and Palmer, the new Asia album featured heavy metal guitarist Al Pitrelli (formerly of Alice Cooper) and drummers Simon Phillips (who had been rumored to be the band’s drummer in the early days of Asia), Nigel Glockler (of Howe’s former band GTR) and Michael Sturgis, who had briefly been part of Asia back in 1987.

Work on Aqua began in June 1991. Initially, five or six new songs were written, which supplemented four or five Rain and Ride the Tiger songs. By October, the remaining songs were written and then recorded in the winter.

The album was released on 10 March 1992 in Japan (by Warner Music Japan), where it quickly reached number 1 in the charts. In Europe it was released on 8 June (by Musidisc), in the USA (there without the song Little Rich Boy) on 22 July (by Great Pyramid). The cover was designed by fantasy artist Rodney Matthews.

However, Japan remained the only country where the album sold well (60,000 copies there alone). The first single was Who Will Stop the Rain? for which a video was even planned, but it turned out that the record company Great Pyramid could not afford to film it. Instead, ARC secured the use of the track Lay Down Your Arms in the film Freddie as F. R. 0. 7/Freddie, theSuper Frog, the most expensive British animated film to date.

A new lineup had to be assembled for a tour. Downes, Payne and Cowell brought guitarist Vinny Burns into the band, who had previously played in former Thin Lizzy musician Darren Wharton’s rock band Dare. With Palmer unavailable and Sturgis meanwhile playing with 21 Guns, they hired Trevor Thornton as drummer. Steve Howe joined the tour as a special guest.

On May 30, 1992, the Aqua Tour started in England. It moved on to Japan, back to England, then on to Europe, the USA and Canada, where it ended in February 1993. While it had seemed on the tour that the four band members would stay together, it became clear towards the end that Downes and Payne saw Asia as their sole project. As a result, Burns left the band. He was replaced for a few festival appearances by Keith More of the progressive rock band Arena. After that, he and Thornton also left.

By the end of the tour, it had become apparent that the new phase of the band had gotten off to a reasonably successful start: Aqua had sold about as well as Astra or Then and Now, and the tour, though mainly in small venues, had been well attended. One downer, however, were the comments of John Wetton, who spoke from the heart of many fans of the old lineup when he publicly refused to accept the new band as Asia.

Aria (1993-1994)

After the end of the Aqua tour, Downes and Payne changed management. Harry Cowell had new projects in mind and Asia switched to Huge & Jolly.

In November 1993, Downes and Payne returned to the studio. Having contained tracks from different years, by seven different writers and different line-ups, Aqua was to be the new album’s actual first album by the new Asia line-up. The songs were now tailored specifically to Payne’s voice. Most of the tracks were written within a month. Only a few songs had been written earlier, including Desire, Aria and Military Man. Desire and Aria, like some of the songs on Aqua, are the result of Payne’s collaboration with keyboardist Andy Nye in Payne’s band The Passion.

For the recordings musicians had to be found again. Since Al Pitrelli was only unavailable for the Aqua tour due to scheduling reasons, they turned to him and he agreed to work with them. As drummer they first had Level-42 drummer Gary Husband in mind, but the cooperation was not satisfying and they decided to bring Michael Sturgis back. He joined the band for three days at the end of 1993 and recorded his drum tracks at Maison Rouge studios (which had been used frequently by Jethro Tull). Downes, Payne and engineer Andy Reilly then moved to Parkgate Studios in Hastings to record Pitrelli’s contributions.

For the cover Geoff Downes could win Roger Dean again. He designed a surreal landscape with overhanging rocks, bridges and pagodas.

The finished album had become, somewhat accidentally, a concept album: It had gradually become apparent during the recording process that the individual pieces addressed important phases in a person’s life, so they were arranged to represent those phases in chronological order, from Anytime, a childhood memory, to Aria, which represents death.

Some pieces from the Aria sessions did not make the album, but were released on the 1996 Archiva 1 and Archiva 2 compilations: A. L. O. (Asiatic Light Orchestra), which was actually called Quest for the Key and was originally written by Payne and Andy Nye for an Electric Light Orchestra project in 1989, and Reality (Downes/Payne).

Aria was released on May 31, 1994 in Europe (on the Bullet Proof label) and in Japan (on Warner Music Japan). However, no record company in the US had any interest in releasing the album. Without Howe, Palmer or Wetton, the expected public interest was as low as the actual interest. Even a music video for the single Anytime didn’t help get the record on the charts.

In early June 1994, preparations began for a tour of Japan (June 15-21, four concerts). Asia toured with the line-up Downes, Payne, Stugis, Pitrelli. However, another tour did not materialize and the band struggled to organize more concerts. After four shows in Germany in October, the Aria tour was over; it had only included 13 shows. In view of the lack of success, Pitrelli had left in August for financial reasons; Downes had replaced him at short notice for the last concerts with Aziz Ibrahim, a guitarist of Pakistani descent who had previously played with Simply Red.

Due to the disastrous tour English and American promoters took distance from Asia. The only England concert was cancelled because the band refused to perform unless the concert was promoted. As a result, the band parted ways with their management.

Arena (1994-1996)

Back in England, Downes and Payne also changed studios. They left Parkgate Studios, where Aria had been recorded, and took their equipment to Chelsea, to Joe’s Garage Studio. While working on new songs, Downes and Payne again gathered other musicians around themselves and Ibrahim. Initially, Downes turned again to Steve Howe, but his contribution Ginger was completed too late to be included on the album. When Downes mentioned the name of former Steely Dan member Elliott Randall to a recording engineer, the latter put him in touch with the guitarist. Randall then joined the band, as did Sturgis, who returned to Asia after stints with Andy Powell and Wishbone Ash. Sturgis’ rhythm work was augmented by noted percussionist Luis Jardim, whom Downes knew from his time with Tina Charles. They also wanted Carl Palmer to be a guest musician, recording the song The Smoke that thunders, which was one of the first demos for Arena. But Palmer’s schedule did not allow for a collaboration and the song did not appear on the album. However, Palmer’s drum track was sampled by Downes and Payne, and The Smoke That Thunders was released on the archival compilation Archiva 2 in 1996. They were briefly joined by Japanese star Tomoyasu Hotei, who was to promote record sales in Japan (he can be heard on the song Into the Arena ).

For the new album Downes and Payne expanded the stylistic breadth of the band. Progressive elements were integrated(The Day Before the War, U Bring Me Down) as well as reggae(Two Sides of the Moon). However, major difficulties arose as the release date for the album, now to be titled Arena, approached. The final mix could not be done as meticulously as the musicians were used to. Still, Downes and Payne were pleased with the album in the end. As cover artist they won Rodney Matthews again.

Arena was released on Warner Music Japan on February 17, 1996, with Music for Nations following with its European release on March 4. This album was also never released in the US. A planned tour in the summer with Jethro Tull was cancelled when Emerson, Lake and Palmer took Asia’s place. As a result, the Arena album was never promoted live.

Many tracks from the Arena sessions did not make the album, but were released on the Archiva 1 and Archiva 2 compilations in 1996: We Fall Apart (Downes/Payne), I Can’t Wait a Lifetime (Payne/Nye), which had already been a candidate for Aqua, Ginger (Downes/Payne/Howe), Don’t Come to Me (Schwartz), which dates from 1988 and was recorded by Downes and Payne in 1995, The Smoke That Thunders (Downes/Payne/Palmer), a demo featuring a sampled drum track by Carl Palmer, Showdown (Jeff Lynne), That Season (Downes/Payne), Can’t Tell These Walls (Payne/Nye) and Right to Cry (Downes/Payne).

Archiva 1, Archiva 2, Anthology and the Official Bootleg Series (1995-1997)

Over the Christmas holidays in 1995, a burst water pipe at Asia’s Clapham Studios had destroyed or rendered unusable thousands of pounds worth of instruments and mixing consoles. With the insurance company insisting everything would work again once the equipment dried, Downes and Payne had to figure out a way to make up for the financial loss in addition to finding a new studio. They quickly decided on Loco Studios in South Wales, which they bought. Downes at this point had the opportunity to reissue his solo albums on the English label Voiceprint; the company’s head Rob Ayling then suggested that he release additional unreleased Asia material. Downes and Payne saw a way to recoup the lost money and agreed. As a result, the two compilations Archiva 1 and Archiva 2 were released in June 1996, containing material that had not made it onto the studio albums Aqua, Aria and Arena. These songs were supplemented by some pieces of the 1987 line-up with Sturgis and Gorham, by some Rain songs(Tears, The Higher You Climb) as well as by music that Payne had originally intended for his band The Passion(Love Like the Video) or for a new Electric Light Orchestra line-up brought to life by Bev Bevan, in which Jim Steinman had also been involved, but which had failed due to Jeff Lynne’s legal interventions(Quest for the Key/AsiaticLight Orchestra). In addition to the numerous lineups around Downes and Payne, Steve Howe and Carl Palmer can also be heard on the Archiva albums.

Downes and Payne then turned their attention to film music. They initially wrote music for the David Attenborough film Salmon: Against the Tide, but a planned project for a Sony PlayStation game never materialised. The music written for both projects was later released on the compilation album Rare (Voiceprint 1999).

In September, Stuart Watson of MCA/Geffen approached Downes and Payne with a proposal to produce another best-of album. Since the release of Then and Now was already seven years ago, the two agreed. However, because John Wetton took legal action, the original Wetton-era recordings could not be used, so Only Time Will Tell, Don’t Cry, The Heat Goes On, Go, Heat of the Moment and Time Again had to be re-recorded. This caused resentment among the band and fans alike, which even a cover of GTR’s The Hunter and a new track called Different World couldn’t erase. Anthology was released on June 25th 1997 on the Japanese independent label DML and on December 1st in Europe on Snapper Records.

Due to the success of the Archiva albums, Ayling suggested that they release a series of live recordings. Downes and Payne seized this opportunity to earn money for an eventual new studio album, selecting four concerts from Nottingham (1990), Osaka (1992), Philadelphia (1992) and Cologne (1994). The recordings were released under the series title Official Bootleg Series from April to July 1997. According to this title, they contained reworked bootlegs, i.e. unauthorized recordings of inferior quality that fans had made. In this way Asia wanted to counter the growing bootleg market.

Shortly after, another best-of compilation was released on the Cameo label, titled Asia: Greatest Hits Live.

The years 1997 and 1998

Downes and Payne then retreated to Wales to begin work on their next studio album. During this and the following year, however, not much was heard from the band. In 1997, Payne and Downes played a single concert, unplugged at the Progressive Rock Festival in Bruchsal, co-headlining with Saga (September 20-21). Downes’ acquaintance with Saga guitarist Ian Crichton renewed and expanded into a collaboration in the months that followed. Meanwhile, Downes and Payne negotiated with Snapper Records for the reissues of Aqua, Aria and Arena, which were subsequently released in March 1998 (including some bonus tracks from the Archiva albums).

That same month, work with Crichton began. By the time he went on tour with Saga at the end of April, several hours of jointly written music had been recorded. Negotiations were even held with a promoter for some concerts in the US that would have included Crichton for the summer, but time to the scheduled dates proved too short and the concerts had to be cancelled. Problems coordinating the schedules of the three musicians then meant that further collaborations with Crichton, planned for summer or autumn, did not materialise. Asia performed one more time in December, at a charity event at the Newport Centre in Wales.

Reunification attempt (1998-1999)

Then, in July 1998, new contacts unexpectedly arose between Downes and Wetton, who had been pursuing his solo career in the meantime. The two decided to embark on new projects together, the first of which was to be the release of archival material from the 1980s and 1990s. After some legal difficulties involving ownership of the songs and whether they could release them under the name “Asia”, the album was finally released three years later under the title Wetton/Downes. It contains demo recordings from 1982 to 1995, including some demos of Asia songs such as Oh! Carolann/Kari-Anne and Summer (including Rock and Roll Dream Intro). Kari-Anne also features drummer Michael Sturgis and guitarist Scott Gorham, with whom Wetton and Downes had unsuccessfully tried to revive Asia in 1987. The CD was initially released only in Japan and was briefly available in the US. For legal reasons it will not be pressed again.

The renewed friendship between Downes and Wetton sparked speculation about a reunion of the original lineup. Indeed, this moved into the realm of possibility in December 1998, as Greg Lake left Emerson, Lake and Palmer, and Carl Palmer, now without commitments of his own, immediately contacted Downes about working together again. However, Steve Howe remained a permanent Yes member and was unwilling to join Asia, so they had to look for a replacement (Dave Kilminster was thought of). Further difficulties arose due to Wetton’s ongoing alcohol addiction and Palmer’s insistence that the new project take place without Payne’s involvement. Downes, on the other hand, insisted on his involvement because he had in mind a fusion of the two Asia lineups. He had little choice: Downes had signed over his rights to the name “Asia” to Payne a few years earlier due to a legal matter. The latter thus held his, Downes’ as well as Palmer’s share, since Palmer had signed over his share to Downes in 1991 to enable him to restart without legal problems (Wetton would otherwise have prevented Aqua with a court intervention). With the signing over of Downes’s share, Palmer’s had also passed to Payne. Payne, moreover, did not accept the financial settlement offered to him. In addition, the founding members’ financial expectations ($50,000 per concert for a tour still planned for 1999) were excessive in the eyes of promoter Nick Caris. In his opinion a comeback tour should have taken place only in small halls and on US Army bases, which the musicians refused. Downes now realized that the risk of jeopardizing the collaboration with Payne (and thus the band Asia) for a few reunion concerts was too great, and backed out. Wetton and Palmer then let it be known that they regretted that a reunion had fallen through due to financial difficulties. They subsequently decided to work together. Together with Kilminster and former Asia keyboardist John Young, they formed the cover band Qango, which played a few concerts in England in early 2000 and disbanded later that year. Downes initially continued working on his fourth solo album.

Aura (1999-2002)

Due to the failed reunion attempt in 1998/1999 the work on the new Asia album had been delayed. While Downes was still finishing his solo project, Payne therefore already continued with the work on the next Asia album. This included the band renewing their business relationship with manager Harry Cowell, who had handled them during Aqua. Cowell immediately agreed and secured Asia a contract with Recognition Records in mid-1999, on the strength of the demos for Under the Gun, Come Make My Day and Hands of Time. The contract allowed them to hire Simon Hanhart (Marillion, Arena, Tin Machine, Suicidal Tendencies), an experienced producer, and to invite a number of well-known musicians.

Recording sessions began in July at the band’s own Loco Studios in Wales. Ian Crichton of Saga, who had already been involved in the songwriting, joined Payne and Downes for some time and recorded some guitar parts. Downes also enlisted his friend Steve Howe for two tracks, and he can be heard on Free and The Last Time. Also playing on Free was guitarist Pat Thrall, who had been a member of the band but to date had only been heard on the live album Asia Live in MOCKBA. And Elliott Randall also managed to contribute to the new Asia album. Queen guitarist Brian May and Toto’s Steve Lukather had also been scheduled as special guests, but they were unable to fit their participation into their schedules. The last gaps were filled by the talented young guitarist Guthrie Govan.

Chris Slade (previously with Tom Jones, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, David Gilmour, The Firm, AC/DC and others) was hired as drummer. He played a few songs, but then fell ill and Vinnie Colaiuta, who had already played for Sting and Frank Zappa, stepped in at short notice. Other tracks feature Asia veterans Simon Phillips and Michael Sturgis. A planned collaboration with Carl Palmer, however, did not materialize.

Another musician featured on Aura is bassist Tony Levin.

In addition to this gathering of notable musicians and former Asia members, Cowell hired Roger Dean to do the cover art. Dean was hesitant at first, as his Asia logo had been used on these archive releases without him being paid, but then agreed to contribute to the new album.

Although neither Downes nor Payne were happy with Hanhart’s production, they delivered the new album to Recognition in August 2000. Initially scheduled for a fall release, it was postponed until 2001, giving them the opportunity to rework the demos for Under the Gun, Come Make My Day and Hands of Time and add them to the album as bonus tracks.

It wasn’t until five years after Arena that the Downes/Payne team’s fourth album, Aura, was released in Japan on 31 January 2001 and in the UK on 12 February. But despite the involvement of so many notable musicians, a cover of Roger Dean, and a subsequent tour with the lineup of Downes, Payne, Slade, and Govan through Germany (with Kansas), the rest of Europe, Japan, and North America (with The Outfield, Berlin, The Motels, and The Fixx), the mainstream rock of Aura did not become a huge success. The contributions of the guest musicians sounded too anonymous and Asia’s great successes had already been too long in the past.

In 2002, Downes and Payne took a break as Asia. However, a 4-CD box set called Quadra was released, containing concert recordings from Pittsburg, April 4, 2002, Worcester, August 22, 1983, and Frankfurt, December 13, 1990.

Silent Nation (2003-2004) and Icon

It wasn’t until 2003 that Downes and Payne resumed work as Asia. Unable to organize a tour, they turned to their fans, who set up unplugged concerts around the U.S. in the summer – in small halls, pubs and cafes. This idea turned out to be a mistake in retrospect, because the band’s public image suffered rather as a result. Asia seemed to be finally at the end.

Still in 2003, Downes and Payne then went back into the studio with Govan and Slade to work on a new album. For Silent Nation, Downes left the sole production to Payne for the first time. But also Silent Nation (2004), recorded by the finally stable line-up around Downes and Payne, Govan and Slade, could not tie up to the big success of the early phase, even if one had tried to strike the bow back to the musical beginnings of the group with the album. The great success did not come.

John Wetton and Geoff Downes live (2006)

After the commercial failure of this album as well, Downes went on vacation and renewed the collaboration with John Wetton that had been rekindled on the occasion of the Wetton/Downes album. This was also made possible because Wetton had been seriously battling his alcoholism since June 2005. He had been “sober” since June 2 of that year. Since that time, the two released three studio albums and two live albums under the name Icon; they saw this band project as musically completely independent of Asia.

Asia tour 2005 and Architect of Time (Downes, Payne, Govan, Slade)

With the line-up Downes, Payne, Govan and Slade, Asia went on tour again in 2005. The concert series started in Germany in January, after which the band played in other European countries and in North America. It was the longest tour in years, but many of the concerts were poorly attended. In the U.S., sometimes only 50 fans showed up at the venues. The frustration, especially for Downes, reached its peak when the band played in Santa Barbara in a restaurant in front of 30 guests who were eating dinner during the concert.

After the end of the tour, Asia went back into the studio to write songs for their next album, whose name was given as Architect of Time. But work on this album was cut short by an unexpected development.

Reunion of the original line-up (since 2005)

After the failed attempt in 1999, rumors of a reunion of the Asia original line-up circulated again and again. In 2005 Geoffrey Downes was supposed to go on tour with the band White of Yes drummer Alan White, Steve Howe and the band The Syn of Yes bassist Chris Squire. The plan was to first play tracks by each band and then songs from the Yes album Drama, which also featured Downes. However, this tour never came to fruition.

Nevertheless, through Downes’ contacts with Howe and Wetton, the opportunity arose again in late 2005 to reform the band with the three other founding members. After some preliminary telephone conversations, the four founding members Downes, Howe, Palmer and Wetton, together with Wetton’s manager Martin Darvill, met in a suite of London’s Paddington Hilton Hotel on 5 January 2006 to discuss the possibility of a reunion. Initial doubts about Wetton’s health were quickly dispelled. After a very emotional conversation they agreed to make a second attempt. The team around the four musicians was completed by Darvill as manager, the experienced Phil Carson, Bruce Pilato, who had already worked with ELP, as PR manager and Barbara Skydel from the William Morris management agency, which had already represented Asia in the successful 80s. Carson was one of the most important people in the team: he had organized the comebacks of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Yes and Foreigner some time before and was predestined by his good contacts in the USA to establish Asia there a second time.

The reunion of the original line-up meant the end for John Payne and the other members. The Asia project Architect of Time, which was in the works, was put on hold. Payne, Govan and Jay Schellen (drums) – all part of the last Asia line-up – released the album Window to the Soul in August 2006 under the name GPS (the initials of the three surnames). In May 2007, Payne began marketing his work with Asia (and with GPS) under the name Asia featuring John Payne. He released a live recording of a 2005 Asia concert (featuring Payne, Downes, Govan, and Schellen) in October of that year under the title Extended Versions, and subsequently planned to complete the album Architect of Time. A release was scheduled for spring 2011.

On August 7, 2006, rehearsals began for the world tour, which started in the USA on August 19. In the meantime, Bruce Pilato organized a lot of media coverage (with radio and television interviews), especially in the US. A key to the success was that the compilation The Definitive Collection was promoted by Walmart in brochures distributed to 75 million households.

The comeback tour took the group across the US in August and September 2006, and the UK in November and December. In 2007 the band played again in their home country, furthermore also in Japan, South America and Germany. At the Night-of-the-Prog-Festival on the Loreley-Openair-Stage, Asia played together with Fish, Jethro Tull and IQ. At their concerts, the band played the entire debut album, supplemented by some songs from Alpha and pieces from their earlier bands: Roundabout (Yes), Fanfare for the Common Man (ELP), In the Court of the Crimson King (King Crimson) and Video Killed the Radio Star (The Buggles). A special addition was Ride Easy, the B-side of the first single Heat of the Moment.

Comeback albums (Fantasia, Phoenix)

In May 2007, work began on a new studio album for the band. But one of the late effects of Wetton’s alcoholism had led to a coronary heart disease triggered by arteriosclerosis, discovered only by chance, in spring 2007, which, after a period of uncertainty, necessitated heart surgery in August of the same year. The triple bypass went well, yet Asia and Icon appearances announced for the fall in North America and Europe had to be cancelled until further notice.

In July 2007, the live double CD Fantasia was released, featuring recordings made on the comeback tour in Tokyo. The accompanying DVD of the same name was released in September of the same year.

By autumn Wetton and Downes had worked out new song material and in October the first recording sessions began for the twelve songs on the new album, including An Extraordinary Life, in which Wetton processed his experiences of the last few years, the rock pieces Never Again and Nothing’s Forever, the ballads Heroine and I Will Remember You and several pieces beyond the eight-minute limit. In early 2008, the final work on the new album was completed.

In early 2008, Carl Palmer also underwent heart surgery; an angioplasty was performed as a precaution due to hereditary narrowed blood vessels.

The new album Phoenix, which the band produced themselves after Mike Stone’s death, was released on April 11, 2008. It was released by the Italian record company Frontiers Records, the cover was again designed by Roger Dean. In addition, from March to May of the same year, further concerts took place in England, the USA, Japan and Europe.

After the comeback

After the release of Phoenix and the end of the comeback tour in May 2008, the Asia musicians initially turned to their other projects. Carl Palmer toured with his Carl Palmer Band later that summer, Steve Howe reformed the Steve Howe Trio (with his son Dylan Howe on drums and Ross Stanley on Hammond organ, who had already toured England in 2007) for another tour of his home country. After the concerts, Howe returned to his regular band Yes, who announced a new album for 2009. On 29 August 2009, Asia came to Germany for a performance at the 7th Hammer Summer in Hamm (Westphalia).

In April 2010, the album Omega was released. The European tour, which also started in April 2010, took Asia through Italy, Switzerland, Austria, France, the Netherlands and Germany. After releasing a third album, XXX, in 2012, the band released Gravitas in 2014, which featured new guitarist Sam Coulson for the first time.[4] Guitarist Steve Howe had left Asia again in January 2013.[5]

John Wetton’s Health

For three years, a cancer scare for John Wetton affected the band’s activities.[6] In early December 2016, the band announced twelve concerts together with Journey in the USA starting in mid-March 2017.[7] Likewise, the live album Symfonia: Live in Bulgaria 2013 was announced, featuring a concert with the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra.[8] On 11 January 2017, John Wetton stated that he would be unable to participate in the tour due to his chemotherapy treatments and would be represented by Billy Sherwood. Sherwood, like Geoff Downes, belongs to Yes and contributed to Wetton’s solo album Raised in Captivity. Wetton succumbed to cancer on January 31, 2017.[9]

Four Asia concerts were scheduled for late November 2017 in the UK. Of the current line-up, Downes and Sherwood participated. Steve Howe made a brief comeback at the concerts. His son Dylan Howe stood in for drummer Carl Palmer. Also scheduled were appearances by Foreigner and John Parr.[10]


The entire work of the band Asia moves within the framework of rock music. Echoes of pop and hard rock are present, but remain rare. The stylistic development, however, is marked by a gradual change on the first three albums and a break between Astra (1985) and Aqua (1992).

The first Asia album was, due to Geffen’s strategy, strongly oriented towards the American mainstream rock market. Especially Wetton, Downes and Stone, who supported this line, focused their attention on catchy, radio-ready melodies. Howe’s contributions, on the other hand, were even more closely aligned with 1970s progressive rock (cf. Here Comes the Feeling, which structurally has little to do with the pop/rock of the era). Asia played so-called “stadium rock” or “arena rock” on their first three albums, which became very successful in 1980s America. What is striking here is the great pathos of some of the melodic inventions, which goes back above all to John Wetton(Without You, My Own Time (I’ll Do What I Want), Go, Voice of America, Rock ‘n’ Roll Dream, After the War) and is comparable to similar pieces by the group Queen. Heavily distorted guitar sounds, aggressive drumming and other stylistic elements aligned with hard rock or heavy metal are absent. The guitar sounds are clear and Downes’ diverse keyboard sounds dominate.

The songs on the first album were still most strongly influenced by the progressive rock of the 1970s. Some of its stylistic elements can be heard here, such as odd bars, rhythmic ambiguity, numerous rhythm changes in a short time, virtuosity and an unusual variety of (especially guitar and keyboard) sounds (see Asia). Compared to later albums by the band without Howe, the guitarist’s multiple ornamental accents, which he usually places between Wetton’s verses, are particularly striking.

These stylistic elements gradually receded on Alpha (1983) and Astra (1985). It has been speculated whether this and the accompanying de-individualization of Asia’s music was the reason for the band’s steady decline in success; however, this cannot be proven. However, the pathetic melodic arcs remained. The overall sound of the band developed more and more towards a unity, which gradually let differentiated arrangements like on the debut album recede.

The Asia albums of the Downes-Payne era sound very different in comparison. Even though Downes made a point of emphasizing continuity to the band’s first phase with Steve Howe and Carl Palmer on Aqua (1992), Wetton’s absence as a songwriter was noticeably noticeable. The songs, now written primarily by Downes and Payne, moved more in the direction of American-style mainstream hard rock. For the first time, blues and rhythm-and-blues elements were heard on Asia, albeit only cautiously. Pathos reminiscent of Wetton was only rarely heard (for example on Anytime from Aria, 1994). The numerous reshuffles were hardly reflected in the band’s overall sound; this was due to the dominance of Downes and Payne, who increasingly saw Asia as a duo project. The numerous guest musicians mostly played pre-recorded parts, which hardly let their individual style come to bear.

With the reunion of the original line-up in 2006, a new stylistic upheaval was to be expected. However, the songs on Phoenix lack the melancholic as well as the pathetic melodies of the classic Asia pieces. Instead of bombast rock and power ballads, the reunion album contains rather calm midtempo songs without excessive pathos. After Mike Stone’s death, Asia also acted as their own producers on Phoenix. Stone’s wall-of-sound production was not revisited in the process. Thus, the massively duplicated vocal lines are absent, as is the heavy reverb of the keyboard and drum sounds. The band’s sound is noticeably closer to the albums of the 1990s than to that of the classic Asia albums.


Chart positions
Explanation of the data
EN 6 17.05.1982 (34 Wo.)
AT 13 15.07.1982 (2 Wo.)
UK 11



10.04.1982 (38 Wo.)
US 1Template:Infobox Chart Placements/Maintenance/NR1-Link



Quadruple platinum

03.04.1982 (64 Wo.)
EN 11 29.08.1983 (16 Wo.)
CH 18 06.11.1983 (2 Wo.)
UK 5



20.08.1983 (11 Wo.)
US 6



27.08.1983 (25 Wo.)
EN 48 23.12.1985 (9 Wo.)
CH 10 08.12.1985 (11 Wo.)
UK 68 14.12.1985 (1 wk.)
US 67 07.12.1985 (17 Wo.)
Then and Now
CH 39 23.09.1990 (1 wk.)
US 114



01.09.1990 (10 Wo.)
EN 51 29.06.1992 (11 Wo.)
CH 20 21.06.1992 (9 Wo.)
EN 89 15.08.1994 (4 Wo.)
CH 31 26.06.1994 (6 Wo.)
CH 50 21.04.1996 (1 wk.)
Silent Nation
EN 77 13.09.2004 (1 wk.)
The Definitive Collection
US 183 30.09.2006 (1 wk.)
EN 58 25.04.2008 (1 wk.)
CH 75 27.04.2008 (1 wk.)
US 73 03.05.2008 (1 wk.)
EN 56 07.05.2010 (1 wk.)
CH 55 09.05.2010 (2 Wo.)
EN 33 13.07.2012 (2 Wo.)
CH 43 15.07.2012 (2 Wo.)
UK 69 14.07.2012 (1 wk.)
US 134 21.07.2012 (1 wk.)
EN 51 04.04.2014 (1 wk.)
CH 24 30.03.2014 (1 wk.)
UK 92 05.04.2014 (1 wk.)
US 159 12.04.2014 (1 wk.)
Heat of the Moment
EN 7 12.07.1982 (17 Wo.)
CH 2 25.07.1982 (10 Wo.)
UK 46 03.07.1982 (5 Wo.)
US 4 17.04.1982 (18 Wo.)
Only Time Will Tell
EN 50 13.09.1982 (7 Wo.)
UK 54 18.09.1982 (3 Wo.)
US 17 24.07.1982 (14 Wo.)
Sole Survivor
EN 75 27.12.1982 (1 wk.)
Don’t Cry
EN 54 12.09.1983 (7 Wo.)
UK 33 13.08.1983 (5 Wo.)
US 10 30.07.1983 (13 Wo.)
The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
UK 81 22.10.1983 (2 Wo.)
US 34 15.10.1983 (13 Wo.)
US 46 07.12.1985 (11 Wo.)
Days Like These
US 64 29.09.1990 (7 Wo.)

Studio albums

  • 1982: Asia
  • 1983: Alpha
  • 1985: Astra
  • 1992: Aqua
  • 1994: Aria
  • 1996: Arena
  • 1997: Archiva
  • 1999: Rare
  • 2000: Aura
  • 2004: Silent Nation
  • 2008: Phoenix
  • 2010: Omega
  • 2012: XXX
  • 2014: Gravitas

Compilations and live albums

This list is a selection, there are many more live albums and best-of compilations.

  • 1986: Aurora (compilation EP, only released in Japan)
  • 1990: Then and Now (compilation with four new songs)
  • 1991: Live in Moscow (Asia | Live | 09-XI-90 | Москва́) (Live)
  • 1996: Archiva 1 (outtakes and demos)
  • 1996: Archiva 2 (outtakes and demos)
  • 1997: Live in Philadelphia
  • 1997: Live in Osaka
  • 1997: Live in Cologne
  • 1997: Live at the Town & Country Club
  • 1997: Anthology
  • 1997: Greatest Hits Live
  • 1997: Archives: Best of 1988-1997
  • 1999: Live Acoustic
  • 1999: Axioms
  • 2000: The Collection
  • 2001: Universal Masters Collection
  • 2001: Best of Live
  • 2002: America: Live in the USA (Live)
  • 2002: Alive in Hallowed Halls
  • 2002: Quadra (4-CD box set containing concert recordings from Pittsburg, April 4, 2002, from Worcester, August 22, 1983 and from Frankfurt, December 13, 1990)
  • 2003: Live in Buffalo
  • 2004: Live in Massachusetts ’83
  • 2005: Enso Kai – Live at the Budokan Tokyo 1983
  • 2005: Live in Zurich (CH)
  • 2005: The Smile Has Left Your Eyes (2 CD set in Digipak, ADD 24 Bit/96 kHz High-End Mastering, contains the live albums Live In Moscow 1990 and Live in Massachusetts ’83, Label: Eagle Rock/Membran)
  • 2007: Fantasia: Live in Tokyo
  • 2014: High Voltage Live
  • 2017: Symfonia (Live in Bulgaria 2013 – With The Plovdiv Opera Orchestra)

Video albums

  • 1983: Asia in Asia (VHS/Laser Disc)
  • 1990: Andromeda (VHS/DVD/Laser Disc; re-released in 2002 as Classic Rock Legends )
  • 1990: Live in Moscow | 1990 (DVD)
  • 2003: America: Live in the USA (DVD)
  • 2004: Asia: 20th Century Masters (DVD)
  • 2004: Making of Silent Nation (DVD)
  • 2007: Fantasia: Live in Tokyo


  • Kim Dancha: My own time. The authorized Biography of John Wetton. Northern Line, Schnecksville PA 1997, ISBN 0-9654847-1-8.
  • George Forrester, Martyn Hanson, Frank Askew: Emerson, Lake & Palmer. The show that never ends. A musical biography. Helter Skelter, London 2001, ISBN 1-900924-17-X.
  • David Gallant: Asia, the Heat Goes On. The Authorized Asia Biography. David Gallant Publishing, Summerside PEI Canada 2001, ISBN 0-9688584-0-6.
  • David Gallant: Asia. Heat of the Moment. Asia Music Ltd et al, New York NY 2007, ISBN 978-0-9796881-0-2.
  • Edward Macan: Endless Enigma. A musical biography of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. (= Feedback. Vol. 4). Open Court, Chicago IL 2006, ISBN 0-8126-9596-8.


  1. Asia Biography, Music News, Discography @ 100 XR – #1 Rock Web Station!!!!
  2. MusicMight :: Artists :: ASIA (Memento of17 June 2009 in the Internet Archive)
  3. Wieland Harms: The Unplugged Guitar Book. 20 of the most beautiful songs for acoustic guitar. Gerig Music, ISBN 3-87252-249-3, p. 102.
  6. Asia’s John Wetton undergoes cancer surgery(Memento of 5 January 2018 in the Internet Archive)
  11. a b Chart sources: EN AT CH UK US1 US2
  12. US Albums: The Billboard Albums by Joel Whitburn, 6th Edition, Record Research 2006, ISBN 0-89820-166-7.
  13. a b Music Sales Awards: UK US
  14. US Singles: Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles 1955-2006. Billboard Books, New York 2007, ISBN 0-89820-172-1.

Web links