Director of Marketing & PR- ASIA
To order custom print and broadcasts spots for your Asia show, please contact Bill Young Productions.
We can provide B roll of Asia if you wish to have a TV spot for your show. Please contact Bruce Pilato for any such requests.
2013-01 - Asia announce 2013 plans including new album and new guitarist, Sam Coulson.
Photos/Bio - Downes
Buggle. Yesman. Asia Founding Member.
Born and raised in Stockport, England, Geoff developed a passion for music early in life. While his father had been organist and choirmaster at a church in Stockport, as a young man Geoff quickly discovered a talent for the piano and a love of showmanship. His exposure to other musicians at college in Leeds led him in 1974 to She's French, his first real band. "Melody Maker used to run band contests, and we got to the finals. We played a lot of clubs in the north of England. We were playing very experimental stuff, jazz-fusion mixed with Yes and classical stuff - a real mish-mash of styles."
In 1975, he packed his bags and headed for London. An early band situation was to rehearse with Electric Light Orchestra founding member Roy Wood and his glam-rockers Wizzard. "I was in rehearsals with them for about three or four weeks, but it didn't really work out. Roy offered me the job of the keyboard player, so I rehearsed with them, but it didn't really seem as if it was going anywhere."
Shortly thereafter, fate intervened when he met a young bass player, Trevor Horn. The two met while playing in an English disco outfit, the Tina Charles Band. "About nine months after moving to London, I bumped into Trevor. He was living with Tina at the time and looking for people to play in her band. Whenever she did a tour, I'd go on the road with her." When the band split, Downes and Horn continued working together, producing other bands. Over the years, the duo perfected their own style of electro-pop music. By 1979, as 'The Buggles', they recorded Video Killed The Radio Star and stormed the pop charts.
Lightning struck twice when the two were invited to replace Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson in YES in 1980. Alongside Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Alan White, the DRAMA album added yet another illustriuos chapter to the YES saga.
Although a short-lived endeavor, Geoff cemented a friendship with Steve Howe that would manifest itself several times over the next 25 years. ASIA grew out of the ashes of YES, as Downes & Howe joined together with Carl Palmer and John Wetton. "The success with ASIA came very quickly. It was if I had stepped off one bus and another came along right away." The Wetton/Downes writing team scored a number of major hit singles, propelling the band to the top of the charts.
After three record-breaking albums (ASIA, ALPHA & ASTRA) and a series of lineup changes, Asia was laid to rest in 1985. Geoff accepted an invitation from Steve Howe to produce the first GTR album, a project between Howe and former Genesis axeman Steve Hackett. GTR obtained a modest amount of success with the single, When The Heart Rules The Mind, after which Geoff returned to the studio to work on his first solo album, The Light Programme. His aim was to create a deep, textured sound through the use of keyboards, with one man at the helm. Calling upon his classical training, and by synthesizing a variety of cultural influences into the music, he managed to blend sound and technology in a revolutionary manner.
Unknown to most fans, Wetton and Downes continued to write in the months and years after the failure of ASTRA. Meeting at various studios around London, the partners churned out dozens of demos with no particular project in mind. Geoff recalls that the songwriting sessions were essentially for Asia material, but that the results were not always appropriate. "It's basically stuff that John and I were writing that we didn't think was suitable for Asia at the time. Mostly middle-of-the-road stuff. Mostly ballads." One of the songs, We Move As One, found a home on former ABBA singer Agnetha Fältskog's solo album, Eyes of a Woman.
With GTR finished and Asia still on hold, Geoff turned his attention to his solo material in Advision Studios. At the time, he began working on a new project, "Rain", at the suggestion of Geffen's John Kalodner. "John Wetton went off and started writing with a few other people, and I ensconced myself in Advision Studios in London. This is when I started building up a series of tracks by myself and working with other writers, as an alternative project. Rain started from the fact that Kalodner was quite interested in my doing some stuff with Max Bacon."
In 1989, Geoff began working with former Asia and ELP alumnus Greg Lake on a collection of songs. Looking to form a partnership, they went to work under the title "Ride The Tiger". "Myself and Greg set up a studio for about a year, after I had been at Advision. Because it was two people coming together from very different directions, Greg said it was like 'riding the tiger'. We wrote about eight songs altogether. There was a lot of stuff that never saw the light of day."
Before the duo could finalize their plans, Asia would surface once again in 1989. Although Wetton and Palmer toured parts of Europe with a string of guitar players and a new keyboard player, John Young, Geoff was brought back into the fold when Geffen got serious and authorized the release of a new best-of collection, THEN AND NOW. But the euphoria was short-lived, and eventually Carl Palmer departed for the ELP reunion and BLACK MOON album, and John Wetton moved to LA to work on his first solo album.
Back in England, Geoff found himself in a unique position. Asia had always been the perfect venue for his keyboard talents, and this would be the ideal opportunity to re-form the band in his image. Recruiting singer John Payne, whom he had met during the GTR sessions, they went to work on the album AQUA. With the return of Steve Howe once again, a world tour ensued in 1992 on the heels of the hit song, Who Will Stop The Rain.
The following years brought many more lineup changes, and a series of studio releases - ARIA, ARENA, AURA and SILENT NATION.
Yet Geoff was always able to find time for his own solo endeavours. VOX HUMANA displayed a more melodic side to his writing, with the album featuring several co-writes with a friend, Johnny Warman. From the beautiful rendition of Ave Maria (vocals by Emma Stace) to the instrumental Howe-like Concerto, it clearly showed the keyboardist's maturity as a composer and musician. A third album, EVOLUTION, contained no original compositions, consisting entirely of instrumental versions of Downes' favorite rock classics. "It's largely based on people asking me about my influences. I used to play some of them on my own, in a quiet moment, and some friends said that I should do my own versions. It started with groups like Moody Blues and Procol Harum. I wanted to do a cataloguing of groups that had impressed me with keyboards over the years."
With Asia on hold in 1999, Geoff returned to the studio to record his new solo album, THE WORLD SERVICE, in 1999. Based on his early encounters with the BBC growing up in Manchester, the concept album explored the global sounds that emanated from the family radio. His next solo effort, SHADOWS & REFLECTIONS, was released in 2002.
To coincide with the release, the keyboardist scheduled his first ever live solo show, performing in London at St. Cyprian's Church. The concept of a solo show had actually been kicking around for quite some time. "I could actually turn the clock back seventeen years when I did my first solo album. I went to see Rob Dickens at Warner Records (Geffen distributors in the UK), and he had this idea about putting on this one-man show with all my keyboards at the (London) planetarium. So it was something that had been around for quite some time, but I never really had the chance to put it together and do specifically a one man show." The setlist for the 2002 show included glimpses from all aspects of his career. For many, the highlight of the night was Downes' solo performance of the Yes classic Tempus Fugit. Aside from the DRAMA tour of 1980, it had never been performed live until that night.
In addition to Video Killed The Radio Star and a number of Asia classics, Downes introduced a new piece especially for the evening, The Bridge. This extended piece was eventually released on CD.
After mending fences with his writing partner and original Asia founding member John Wetton, the two men recorded a new album, ICON, in 2005. The album was released in April on the Frontiers label to much acclaim from fans and reviewers alike. It would mark another significant turning point in the history of the band.
The dawn of 2006 brought earth-shattering announcement: Geoff Downes, John Wetton, Steve Howe and Carl Palmer made public their intention to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the formation of Asia and the recording of their debut album, and several years on they are still writing and touring together. Geoff has also re-joined Yes, and the resulting album, 2012's FLY FROM HERE, featured the Downes-Horn title track extended into a full suite in classic Yes fashion.
What else does the future hold for this talented musician? To coin a phrase, "Only Time Will Tell!"
Photos/Bio - Palmer
Carl Palmer is a drummer's drummer. A consummate professional, a brilliant technician and a dynamic showman, he has thrilled listeners and audiences alike for nearly four decades with some of music's most memorable bands including Atomic Rooster, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, Asia and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Along the way his dazzling speed and mastery of the drums, combined with his infectious stage personality, have secured for him a respected place in history as one of Rock and Roll's greatest drummers.
Carl Frederick Kendall Palmer was born in Birmingham, England, on March 20th, 1950. From the beginning it was clear that music was in the stars for the young Carl Palmer. His grandfather played the drums, his grandmother was a symphony violinist, his mother played an assortment of instruments, and his father sang, danced and played the guitar and drums as a semi-professional entertainer. In a musical family where even his brothers picked up the guitar and drums, Carl's fascination with music began early and classical violin studies followed.
As he grew older, his tastes began to broaden and on ABC's "In Concert" Palmer recalled how he was influenced by a film he saw during these formative years. The 1959 film "Drum Crazy" (aka "The Gene Krupa Story"), starring American film icon Sal Mineo ("Rebel Without A Cause", "Exodus"), captured Carl's imagination and set him on his way – he was hooked. His biggest influences from that point forward were Krupa and drum legend Buddy Rich who would later become a close personal friend of Carl's. For his eleventh birthday he received a new drum set and immediately began to study the instrument. Over the next three years he studied with local instructor Tommy Cunliffe, played in a radio orchestra (the Midland Light Orchestra) and performed with his father's dance band.
At age 14 Carl Palmer joined his first professional band, a six-month stint with The Mecca Dance Band, for which he was paid a whopping 23 pounds a week. At 15, Palmer enlisted in the Motown influenced King Bees along with Richard King on guitar, Len Cox on bass and Jeff Brown on lead vocals. The band would later be known as The Craig.
Already a respected working drummer by 16, Palmer moved on to join Chris Farlowe and the Thunderbirds which also featured guitar great Albert Lee (later with Eric Clapton, Albert Lee & Hogan's Heroes, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Bill Wyman & the Rhythm Kings) and keyboardist Dave Greenslade (later in Colosseum). Pete Solley would eventually replace Greenslade in the band. Recalls Palmer, "yeah that was a blues band, a soul band with saxophones and everything. At the time, we were produced by none other than Mick Jagger." It was Jagger who had originally discovered Farlowe. With Palmer in the band the Thunderbirds enjoyed moderate success with the single "My Way of Giving" but it was the Rolling Stones cover "Out Of Time" which propelled Farlowe to the top of the UK charts.
At the age of 18, replacing drummer Drachen Theaker, Carl Palmer joined up with The Crazy World of Arthur Brown at the absolute peak of their success following the smash single "Fire" ("I am the God of Hellfire..."). Top 10 around the world and feeling the weight of success, cracks had begun to form in the band, there were personnel changes and Palmer arrived at a time when the band were touring with some of the biggest names in music. After brief rehearsals the lineup set out on an arduous U.S. tour alongside the cream of the rock world including the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Premier Cast of Hair, Iron Butterfly and others.
The concerts were bombastic, pyrotechnic spectacles bordering on insanity, including the eccentric Brown setting himself on fire in asbestos suit, and the tour was a blur for the band. Speaking to Janis Schacht of Circus Magazine Palmer recalled, "I don't know how the audiences were. I couldn't see them with Arthur Brown. I was wearing too many masks, there were too many strobe lights, it was very hard to tell. The audiences were nothing like what we have today and with Arthur being so visual you never got a chance in the band." He added, "The audience anticipation was all Arthur's. So, musically, I was left behind. They would clap when he lit his fire helmet up. If I did something good, they wouldn't clap. Mind you, it might not have been good. I have no impressions from the last time."
Continuing pressures, management problems, health issues and personality conflicts eventually took their toll. The disillusioned Brown became increasingly difficult and the band splintered. Speaking about Brown, Palmer recalled, "It was no use talking to him so I just left him in the middle of the night." Carl, along with ailing guitarist Vincent Crane, returned to the UK to form Atomic Rooster.
It was with Atomic Rooster that Carl Palmer enjoyed his first real success as a founding member of a band. Media and fans alike immediately embraced Crane, Palmer and bassist/vocalist Nick Graham as the late 60's progressive rock scene was thriving. Their debut album, Atomic Rooster, hit number 49 in the U.K., and they enjoyed success with the singles "Tomorrow Night" and "Devil's Answers." All the while, fueled by his brilliant drum solos, Palmer's reputation grew as a drummer with phenomenal skill and dizzying speed.
In the spring of 1970, Carl Palmer received a phone call that changed his life forever. Keyboard virtuoso Keith Emerson, himself enjoying Top 10 U.K. success with The Nice, was forming a new band with King Crimson founder Greg Lake who had also just experienced real success with his band's legendary "In The Court Of The Crimson King". After trying out several drummers, including Mitch Mitchell, the two wanted Palmer to audition for a spot in the new trio but Palmer was uncertain if he wanted to leave the growing success of Atomic Rooster behind. Reluctantly, he agreed to meet and rehearse with the band and thank God he did.
The trio's first rehearsal mostly featured Nice and King Crimson standards, including "Rondo" and "21st Century Schizoid Man", and all three musicians describe it as a "magical feeling" when they first played together. The session blew everyone away and Palmer was offered the job right there on the spot. Still not convinced however, he told Emerson and Lake that he would need to think it over. Returning the next day to another brilliant rehearsal, Carl Palmer accepted the invitation and joined the band.
Immediately dubbed a "supergroup" by the media, Emerson, Lake and Palmer (ELP) entered the musical arena with great expectations. In August of 1970, while they were still working on the tracks that would eventually form their first album, ELP played its first show at Plymouth, and moved on immediately to the legendary Isle of Wight Festival. Following their set, which included an explosive version of "Pictures At An Exhibition" (complete with cannons), the fallout was massive. Said Palmer of the festival, "I don't recall how well we played. All I know is that we went down incredibly well." Even that may have been an understatement. Perhaps signaling the path of the band itself, critical acclaim was monumental and overnight the band was thrust down the path to superstardom.
The following month the group finished its self-titled debut album, which was released in November. Instantly successful, it climbed to the Top 5 in England and the Top 20 in America. The classic single "Lucky Man" became a hit, and their stage show quickly became the stuff of legend.
The 1971 follow-up album, Tarkus, propelled the ELP's sound in new directions and was the first real test for the band's cohesiveness. Emerson, wanting to further experiment with the range of the Moog synthesizer, had composed a musically unorthodox, extended piece and Palmer had come up with an unusual drum pattern he wanted to incorporate. Arguments ensued and when Greg Lake, who was producing the album said he wouldn't be involved it looked like that might be it for ELP. In the end there was agreement (or agreement to disagree) and the album, which for many came to define ELP's sound, was released.
On the heels of Tarkus' rise to #1 on the UK charts and Top 10 in the America, ELP arrived at Newcastle City Hall on March 21, 1971, to perform and record live their signature adaptation of Modest Mussorgsky's "Pictures At An Exhibition. When released, that album too became a great success.
Following a blistering schedule which saw the band touring furiously, the world over, ELP returned to the studio and released another impressive effort in "Trilogy" which saw the band's partnership fully back in balance.
1973 saw ELP returning to touring and Carl traveling to the Guildhall School of Music in London where he studied classical timpani. That year also saw ELP return to the studio to record the album Brain Salad Surgery, perhaps the band's definitive work. Bearing such memorable work as "Karn Evil 9", "Still You Turn Me On" and "Jerusalem", the album is highlighted by "Toccata", a reworking of Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera's Piano Concerto No. 1, and some of Carl Palmer's most amazing drumming and synthesized percussion work. So incredible and original was the performance in fact that Ginastera himself endorsed the recording.
An insane touring schedule followed and the legendary scale and musicianship of ELP's live show continued to grow as evidenced by the release of the epic triple live album Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends, released in August 1974. Tired from a grueling four year run which had seen the release of 5 albums as well as untold hundreds of tour dates, the band decided to take a hiatus to explore other projects and to recharge their creative juices.
In reality, much of the material created during this period later went on the form the ELP albums Works, Volume I and Works, Volume II and when the band reunited for the former, a double album, it was decided that each would have a solo side followed by a forth side featuring the band as a unit. For his part, Carl Palmer's contribution featured big band recordings recorded with 60's and 70's pianist & big band leader Harry South, as well as some individual tracks, including "LA '74" with guitarist Joe Walsh of the Eagles. The real gem from this period however was Palmer's own epic "Concerto for Percussion" which, sadly, would wait nearly twenty years before finally being released.
Following the Works albums and a grandiose, bank breaking orchestral tour the band returned to the studio one last time for the album "Love Beach". "In Concert", a testament, to the Works orchestral tour followed and in 1979 ELP quietly disbanded and exited the musical arena.
Looking for new horizons beyond ELP Carl Palmer formed his own band, PM, for which he recruited vocalist Todd Cochran from the band Automatic Man and blues guitarist John Nitzinger, along with Erik Scott and Barry Finnerty. The band, an attempt at Top 40-style rock, released one album, entitled 1:PM, which was released in 1980 in Europe only. Success eluded the album and the band, which broke up shortly thereafter.
Opportunity knocked again for Carl Palmer when manager Brian Lane approached him in 1981. Lane was trying to put together a supergroup concept for Geffen records and, reportedly, one of his first attempts brought together Palmer along with bassist/vocalist John Wetton (U.K., King Crimson), Rick Wakeman (Yes) and guitar ace Trevor Rabin (Rabbit, Manfred Mann and later Yes). A deal with Geffen is said to have fallen through when Wakeman bailed. Still intent on his idea of a supergroup, Lane introduced John Wetton to Yes axeman Steve Howe. When that musical fit seemed right Lane brought in Palmer and keyboardist Geoff Downes (The Buggles, Yes) filled out the lineup. The group Asia was born.
Recording with Asia, and the concept of performing as a band rather than a fusing of solo artists, was something of a new experience for Carl Palmer who said, "We have tried to create a sound collectively rather than a project as individuals." The band's self-titled debut album "Asia" was released in 1982 and a small tour began. Palmer and Wetton have said that they had a feeling in the studio they were doing something special but no one could have been prepared for what happened next. Asia exploded on the charts, right to number one, and over 7 million copies of the album were sold worldwide. Along the way singles such as "Heat Of The Moment", "Only Time Will Tell", "Wildest Dreams" and "Sole Survivor" dominated the charts for months. Asia was a perfect fit for the musical climate of the time.
"We were unique," said Palmer. "Asia was English rock with a technical side. It's sophisticated rock mixed in with melodies and singles. It was taboo in those days. And you very rarely hear that today, either."
After an Exhausting 18-month tour, Asia followed up with their second album, Alpha, which spawned two charting hits, "Don't Cry" and "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes". With the inevitable pressures that accompany such phenomenal success came signs that Asia was beginning to come apart. Pressures from management and personality clashes in the band finally came to head with the sudden departure of John Wetton late in 1983. Committed to a live MTV broadcast, "Asia in Asia", Asia brought in Palmer's old ELP mate Greg Lake to fill Wetton's shoes. Shortly thereafter Lake went his own way, the band brought Wetton back in and Steve Howe departed the band for good. Astra, the band's third album, followed in 1985 with Mandy Meyer taking Steve Howe's spot but the album failed to match the success of the earlier albums. A planned tour was abandoned and Asia went their separate ways.
In 1988 the chance came for Carl Palmer to team up once again with Keith Emerson in a new group with California-based singer/bassist Robert Berry. 3, as they were called, released their only album, To The Power Of Three, on Geffen records. Though the group received respectable FM airplay and followed with a successful club tour, their release generated little interest and they disbanded early in 1989.
Later in 1989 the Asia banner was raised once again when an invitation play a series of stadium dates with the Beach Boys brought Carl Palmer and John Wetton back into the Asia fold along with hired guns John Young and Alan Darby. Encouraged by the reception they received, Asia arranged another tour for the fall and convinced Geoff Downes to return.
Hoping to generate interest in another Asia album the group set out on a feverish touring schedule accompanied by guitarist Pat Thrall. For the well traveled Carl Palmer it meant a return to the road and successful tours ensued in Germany, the U.K., Japan, Brazil and Russian. The Russian shows in particular represented another high in the Asia saga and were captured for posterity in the CD and video releases of Asia Live in Moscow. As Asia prepared to write a new album in 1991 John Wetton decided to leave and Carl Palmer jumped at the chance to reunite with his old mates Keith Emerson and Greg Lake in ELP.
Originally the band had only intended on writing and recording music for a planned film score but the chemistry was clearly still there and eventually it was decided that they should record an album. Signed to the newly founded Victory Records, ELP returned in 1992 with Black Moon, a strong effort produced by Mark Mancina. A video was released and an ambitious tour followed. To the surprise of many the tour was quite successful and saw ELP circle the globe on a tour that lasted from the summer of 1992 well into 1993. Recalled Palmer, "I knew we'd be OK but I never dreamed it would be to this magnitude."
ELP headed back into the studio but problems with Keith Emerson's right arm and production that didn't really gel with the sound of ELP plagued the effort. In The Hot Seat was released in 1994 but failed to attract any real attention. ELP headed their own ways to concentrate on medical and personal issues but returned to touring in 1996 and over the next three years they were accompanied on the road by such notable acts as Deep Purple, Dream Theatre, Kansas and Jethro Tull. In the winter of 1998, and in the midst of great anticipation about a much hyped, forthcoming concept album Greg Lake left ELP which left Carl open to another reunion that was in the works.
The wheels had begun to turn again and excitement grew for another reunion of the Asia originals. Negotiations continued and the band began to rehearse together in February 1999, joined by guitarist Dave Kilminster. The feeling among the principals was that the magic was still there and a world tour was announced, set to begin in June. Following a world tour, Asia had hoped to record a new album and Geoff Downes and John Wetton had already begun writing songs again. Said Carl Palmer at the time: "There's some new material that is being rehearsed and recorded which will be played on the upcoming tour. I would say that there would be a new Asia album in the works for the year 2000. That's where we are at the moment."
Unfortunately that is as far as it went. Almost as quickly as the whole project had begun it came crashing down with the announcement by Geoff Downes that he was abandoning the reunion. The event, which so many had hoped for, would have to wait. It did lead however to the brief reunion of Wetton and Palmer, along with guitarist Dave Kilminster and keyboardist John Young in the band Qango. Sporting a set list consisting of classic ELP, Asia, and King Crimson material, along with some new songs, Qango played a well-received series of dates. "It was a wonderful feeling to be back on stage playing this material with our new band," said Palmer. "The shows went down very well and have made us excited about continuing with more tours and the recording of new material." One memorable night even saw the band joined onstage by none other than Keith Emerson. Once again though, hope was short-lived and John Wetton departed the project leaving Palmer to ponder his next move.
Not one to sit around, Palmer set out on a schedule that included instructing drum clinics & master classes and once again set out to create his own new band and along with bassist Dave Marks and guitarist extraordinare Shawn Baxter he formed the progressive trio "Palmer". The thought of Carl Palmer assembling a progressive trio might seem like he was relying on formula, especially since the band's material consisted mainly of ELP classics, but this was indeed a new direction. Purely guitar driven, this band put a new face on such tracks as "Toccata", "Hoedown" and Fanfare For The Common Man" and performed them with dizzying complexity and an energy perhaps not heard since the earliest days of ELP.
Fans fortunate enough to see the group live immediately embraced their raw power and virtuosity and critics were quick to agree. Malcolm Dome of Classic Rock Magazine wrote, "The venerable Palmer, who is still great Drummer, leads his current line up of Guitarist SHAUN BAXTER & DAVE MARKS though impressive reworkings of ELP music" and added, "There's an energy and edge here that belongs to 2003. The music might go way back, but the musicianship is most certainly from here and now." Tim Jones of Record Collector magazine observed, "If you like instrumental virtuosity this should sit well with you." Palmer, the band, began touring at will.
In 1991, Carl Palmer released his much-anticipated two-disk anthology Do Ya Wanna Play, Carl. The collection showcased Palmer's greatest recordings with ELP, Asia, Atomic Rooster plus and several rare and never-before-released tracks from every professional group had ever been in. Highlights included cuts from sessions with British rock artist Mike Oldfield, and a live track featuring Carl with his childhood idol, drum jazz icon Buddy Rich and his Orchestra. Perhaps the biggest gem for fans was the inclusion of the piece fans had been asking for since the seventies. "Concerto for Percussion" made its debut fifteen years after it had been recorded. In a 1991 interview he said, "The album has been in the works since 1976, when ELP took its hiatus to do solo projects. What came of it was the WORKS double LP, with one band side and three solo sides. It was then that I did the "Percussion Concerto." It didn't make it to Works, Vol. 1 or Works Vol. 2. I have always wanted to release it and now it has finally come out."
One of the real highlights of 2002 was an appearance with U.K. rockers "Status Quo" at the Broadlands (the home of Lord Mountbatten) in Romsey, Hampshire. Said Palmer, "The Quo show was absolutely great. 7,500 people... our biggest show since starting the band!" A continuous string of dates saw Carl and the band playing supercharged sets to enthusiastic crowds in Mexico, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, Spain and the U.K. - over 60 plus dates between February and November.
Following more tours and clinics in 2003, Palmer released another CD. Working Live: Volume 1 captured the dynamic Palmer trio in concert and displayed for all the direction, power and originality of the band. His newest album is: Working Live: Volume 2, released in 2004 (including original material) and the band continues on a torrid touring schedule to this very day.
When asked recently what he has yet to accomplish Palmer replied, "I would still like to accomplish that great Emerson, Lake & Palmer album that I know we have still yet to make. This is still a dream, but as long as I can prove that I am getting better all the time, that to me is ultimate accomplishment." Whether or not that reunion will ever materialize is something only EL&P can know but for now the rejuvenated Palmer is happy providing nightly thrills for fans from the stage, where he is meant to be.
A renowned showman and a musician of the highest order Palmer has entertained fans and crowds for generations and left an indelible mark on the music world. With no sign of his ever slowing down one can only assume the best is yet to come for Carl Palmer. Fans will be ever the richer for it.
In May 2006, Carl Palmer Band embarked on a 2006 North American tour with include Paul Bielatowicz on guitar and Stuart Clayton on bass. The power trio played to filled venues and rave reviews for 32 shows across the United States and Canada. Upon completion of the solo tour, Carl Palmer has begun work with the reunion of the original ASIA line up.
Photos/Bio - Wetton
Born in Derby, raised in Bournemouth, John Wetton first cut his musical teeth on church music at his family's piano. He often played the bass parts to help his brother rehearse tunes for services...an experience that led to John's love of bass melodies. In his teens, John focused those melodies on the bass guitar and honed his skills by playing and singing with local bands.
With several years of live experience under his belt, John managed to obtain work doing sessions and recording with a number of artists. This allowed him to show off his impressive bass talents, but did little to showcase his equally impressive singing and songwriting skills. Frustrated, John began to listen a bit closer to the sales pitch of an old friend, Robert Fripp, who set about to reform King Crimson in 1972. The eventual Crimson core of Wetton, Fripp, and Bill Bruford is often considered the "classic" line-up, releasing three studio albums ("Larks' Tongues in Aspic," "Starless and Bible Black," and "Red") that truly stretched the band to its imaginative limits. But after a blistering show in New York's Central Park in 1974, the band took a hiatus that became permanent.
To keep up his chops, John became a musician for hire in a number of high-profile bands in the mid 1970s. But soon, comments from fans and even the media proved to John that there could still be some life in the Wetton/Bruford rhythm section of King Crimson. A series of phone calls and meetings proved to be all the momentum needed in getting U.K. off the ground. The line-up of Wetton, Bruford, Eddie Jobson, and Allan Holdsworth delivered a potent mix of jazzy fusion and progressive pop that brought great success, but also division in the band. After one album, Bruford and Holdsworth were out, and drummer Terry Bozzio in. The trio delivered one studio album and one live album before a demise similar to King Crimson...a hiatus that also turned permanent.
Soon after, John He dumped his old management, publisher, and record company, and joined forces with Brian Lane, who had just ended a successful run with Yes. Brian was working with rising A&R star John Kalodner and Geffen Records to assemble a group that would unleash a new sound across the musical landscape while preserving the finest elements of progressive rock. Lane found his dream line-up with Wetton, Geoff Downes, Steve Howe, and Carl Palmer. This "fab four" of progressive pop would rule radio and record sales for a scant year and a half before losing Wetton in an unceremonious shake-up just weeks before MTV's heavily-promoted Asia in Asia concert broadcast. Not long after, John returned to the Asia fold as Steve Howe made his exit. The band entered the studio with new guitarist Mandy Meyer to record "Astra." The album showcased a few Wetton/Downes classics such as "Rock and Roll Dream" and "Go," but the changing line-ups and changing face of American music meant a loss of momentum and sluggish sales.
John put Asia on the back burner for a bit, and pursued a wide variety of projects. Among them, an album of original music with friend (and former Roxy Music member) Phil Manzanera. John also recorded a track for the soundtrack of the Sylvester Stallone film, "Over the Top," which is credited as Asia. John continued his writing during this time as well, kicking back with former bandmate Downes while cultivating new writing relationships with former teen idol David Cassidy and wife Sue Shifrin. One song from the Wetton/Cassidy/Shifrin sessions, "Prayin' 4 A Miracle," would soon be added to the Asia catalog.
By the end of the 80s, interest in Asia reignited in Europe. John rejoined Carl Palmer, and eventually Geoff Downes, for a series of concerts that proved successful but left John empty. To him, Asia was sounding tired and he was ready for a break from it. Further enticing him was a solo deal with Virgin Records. So, after wrapping up a South American tour in 1991, John temporarily bid adieu to Asia...or so he thought.
With renewed energy, John moved to California and began work on his "Voice Mail" album, the first album to really show off his talents for emotional, autobiographical material. Two songs from the album, "Hold Me Now" and "Battle Lines," have become classics among Wetton fans. In fact, "Battle Lines" eventually replaced "Voice Mail" as the album's title when British producer Bob Carruthers selected it as the theme for his film "Chasing the Deer." To promote the album, John embarked on his first solo tour and later released a live CD called "Akustika."
Returning to the studio in the mid 90s, John contributed tracks to tribute albums featuring the works of Jethro Tull, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and Genesis. He furthered the link to Genesis by joining forces with Steve Hackett for his "Genesis Revisited" project, which culminated in several highly successful live performances in Japan.
Continued autobiographical songwriting led to 1997's "Arkangel" album, an emotionally gritty album that would add more staples ("Arkangel," "Emma") to John's live solo performances. 2000's "Sinister" album, also entitled "Welcome to Heaven," finished the trilogy of solo offerings. He further promoted these albums with extensive tours of Europe, Japan, and South America.
Despite being left off the tour schedule, American fans had plenty to celebrate in 2002 with the first-ever John Wetton Fan Convention in Allentown, PA. Hundreds filled a local venue to spend a weekend with John, his band, and Geoff Downes, who joined John for a gala Saturday night concert which marked the first time the two had shared a stage in more than ten years.
The Wetton/Downes partnership resurfaced when John returned to the studio to begin work on 2003's "Rock of Faith." Two new songs written by John and Geoff ("I've Come to Take You Home" and "I Lay Down") created a buzz among fans hoping for an eventual reunion of the original Asia line-up. That buzz roared in 2005 with the release of "Icon," an album of original music by Wetton and Downes that the duo followed with a number of live shows. Fans cheered the fact that Wetton sounded as good in person, if not better, than he did during the heyday of Asia.
And so it goes to 2006...and a full-blown Asia reunion. With 25 years between today and the first meeting of Wetton, Downes, Howe, and Palmer, the original four.
Photos/Bio - Coulson
Sam Coulson has joined lead vocalist and bassist John Wetton, drummer Carl Palmer and keyboardist Geoff Downes at an exciting time for ASIA. His first live performance with the band will be at the prestigious Sweden Rock festival on 7 June. He will also head to the studio with the band to record a new studio album, to be entitled ‘Valkyrie’, for Frontiers Records.
Sam was a late starter on the guitar, not picking up the instrument until he was 16. At the time he was discovering guitar-based music as a fan and decided that learning to play was the logical next step. His Christmas present that year was an Epiphone SG and he has never looked back.
With some of Sam’s school friends also learning, the element of competition was there right from the start, nurturing his rehearsing and developing as a player. In later years, as Sam says himself, he’s found some great mentors. “I am blessed to have friendships with many of my biggest influences on the guitar. In particular, guitar virtuoso Paul Gilbert, Bluesman Walter Trout and Judas Priest's Richie Faulkner. These guys have given me so much inspiration to play great guitar and also have provided me with much good advice and mentoring over years.”
His first taste of success came at around the age of 20. Sam moved to Glasgow to join an established rock band called Ninetysix4. They recorded an EP entitled “Burn” and at their peak played shows in Shanghai to audiences of 20,000 people. “I have many fond memories and it gave me a lot of confidence playing to such big crowds at an early age. Playing live really tests you to your limits, the pressure is on you to play your best in the live situation and you have many distractions to deal with.”
It is certainly the case with Sam that whilst, like most performers, he doesn’t believe in ‘perfect’, practice really is the key. “Putting in the hours is time well spent. Especially in this day and age where the bar is set so high in terms of where your chops need to be.” He’s looking forward to recording as it really help develop him as a player, “The great thing about listening back to your own playing is you get to see exactly what you like and don't like about your playing, That way you can adjust accordingly and carry on learning!"
Joining ASIA is certainly a big step, but one he’s taking with enthusiasm. One of his long-term mentors put him in the frame. “The first thing I heard of the ASIA gig was an email from Paul Gilbert notifying me that he had put my name forward to fill the legendary shoes of Steve Howe. It was a hugely exciting morning.” Sam swiftly met up with the rest of the band. “The audition process was surprisingly simple. On arrival it became clear that they had spent some time watching footage of me playing on YouTube. I didn't even get as far as setting up my rig; instead we all had a cup of tea and sat around a table for an extended chat!”
ASIA was very clear, from both the band’s own research and first impressions, that Sam was exactly what they were looking for. John Wetton remarks that Sam ticks the boxes as far as ASIA is concerned, with Sam bringing an extra edge and dimension to the complex writing and performing which underpins the classic style of ASIA.
Sam’s preferred weapons of choice are Charvel and Fender guitars. “I love the versatility of a Stratocaster. The ones I'm using are equipped with various humbuckers in the bridge and neck positions and a single coil in the middle.” This arrangement gives him a huge amount of tones at his fingertips without the need to rely heavily on large pedal boards and rack mounted equipment. “My Charvels are sporting Floyd Rose bridges for great tuning stability and all the benefits of the whammy bar.”
And so now, as 2013 unfolds and Sweden Rock and the recording sessions for the album draw on apace, Sam is very much on the team. “I am so proud to now be part of the ASIA legacy. It's a fantastic opportunity for me to play with living legends of such a high calibre of musicianship. Needless to say I am tickled pink!”
Looking forward to making his live debut with the band in June, Sam is already mastering the magnificent ASIA canon. “At the moment my favourite track to play is Sole Survivor. It has a great driving rock feel with progressive twists. Also it gives me an opportunity really to stretch out with my own ideas over the last solo.”
It may be early days yet but the new line-up of Wetton, Downes, Palmer and Coulson seems certain to power on to further glory; let the music play!
- 09/19/2012 - Asia Rock & Roll HOF
- 09/19/2012 - AXS TV "Asia in Concert" Broadcast
- 09/19/2012 - Asia Tour 2012
- 07/12/2010 - Asia US Tour 2010
- 04/16/2009 - Asia To Tour This Summer With Yes
- 04/29/2008 - SF Concert & QuickTime Video Contest
- 04/09/2008 - Phoenix & US Tour Promo Initiatives
- 02/28/2008 - Asia Sign With EMI Records America For "Phoenix"
- 02/26/2008 - Frontiers Presents "Phoenix" On April 11, 2008
- 02/20/2008 - Carl Palmer Has Successful Heart Operation Procedure
- 11/26/2007 - Frontiers Records announces worldwide deal for new Asia studio album
- 08/06/2007 - 2nd Leg of Asia's 2007 Tour Postponed
- 05/25/2007 - All four original member of Asia return with acclaimed "Heat of the Moment" 2007 North American Tour
- 09/18/2006 - America embraces all four original members of Asia: VIA 2006 media coverage
- 09/15/2006 - All four original members of Asia return with triumphant 2006 U.S. reunion tour
- 07/01/2006 - All four members of Asia reunite for 2006-2007 world tour
Asia's debut album exploded onto the music scene in March 1982 with several Top 10 singles and sales exceeding 7 million copies. This "supergroup", featuring bassist/vocalist John Wetton, drummer Carl Palmer, keyboardist Geoff Downes, and guitarist Steve Howe, was the logical successor to their collective bands of the 70s - Yes, ELP, King Crimson, and The Buggles.
The group came together in the spring of 1981. John Wetton's acclaimed progressive rock band UK had collapsed a few years earlier. With the help of manager Brian Lane, he wanted to form a new group with guitarist Steve Howe, best known for his work with British Prog superstars, Yes. Drummer Carl Palmer came into the fold next, having just completed a decade of platinum releases and sold out tours with Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Keyboardist Geoff Downes, who replaced Rick Wakeman in Yes for the Drama album, had previously been half of the pop duo The Buggles. They stormed the charts in 1979 with the timeless classic "Video Killed The Radio Star".
Labelled a "supergroup" by critics and the media from the onset, it was a tag they had never asked for. Asia's music (and rockíníroll charisma) developed organically and effortlessly. Though all four men had seen chart-topping success in their previous bands, Asia had a special chemistry that fans and music industry insiders were quick to recognize.
"The band sort of came together naturally," says Carl Palmer. " It wasn't something which was forced. We all wanted to play together. We had a great time doing it." The band was signed in the summer of 1981 by Geffen Records A&R whiz John Kalodner, fresh out of a long affiliation at Atlantic Records.
The first Asia album went into production in June of 1981 with producer Mike Stone at Marcus Studios and Virgin Townhouse in London. Stone, who had worked on hits for Journey and Queen, also knew the band had an amazing musical ability. The band spent five months writing, arranging, and recording nine songs for its debut that included such classics as " Heat Of The Moment", "Only Time Will Tell", and "Sole Survivor."
"I think that we all knew as soon as we recorded the first few songs that it was going somewhere special," says Wetton. "I don't think we knew, however, until we recorded 'Heat Of The Moment' that we had a monster on our hands. I think that once we had done that, everyone knew that it was going to be successful."
As soon as the album was completed, Geffen knew it had a winner on its hands. The upstart label immediately began turning the wheels of its enormous promotional machine weeks before the LP's release, to help propel the album to the top of the charts. Asia had only weeks to rehearse for a 30 city US tour that commenced on April 22 in Potsdam, NY, of all places! By the time the band reached the 12th stop on tour (Rochester, NY) on May 5th, the debut album had already hit #1 on the Billboard charts.
Fortunately for the band, a new music media outlet called MTV premiered on cable channels in 1981 throughout the US and in over 50 million households. (Downes' hit song with The Buggles "Video Killed The Radio Star" was the first song ever played on the exciting new channel). Asia, aware the network's impact on the industry, began shooting videos as soon as the album was finished. The result was a rock'n'roll marriage made in heaven.
Asia became one of the most played acts on MTV in 1982. Since most people were intrigued with the new concept, viewership often reached several hours a day. "You're looking at a parallel success here," says Wetton. "MTV and Asia were successful at the same time... of course, MTV was instrumental in Asia's success, but then, Asia was also instrumental in MTV's success."
Throughout most of '82, Asia ruled the radio airwaves and MTV; sold out every date on its tour; and the LP, Asia, crushed all the competition at record stores around the world. The music industry had been in a major slump that year, and less than 15% of releases in 1982 made a profit. Asia was one of the year's big exceptions. By the time the band released its second album, the debut album had sold over 6 million copies worldwide and was the best seller of 1982. It had stayed at the #1 spot for an incredible 9 weeks!
The band toured non-stop and continued to see the huge success they had initiated grow even larger. They won almost every BEST NEW ACT award the industry had to offer in 1982.
The success, however, was too much, too soon. By the time they assembled to begin their second album in the winter of 1983, cracks had already begun to appear in the foundation. Creative tensions and egos - not to mention the pressure of having to top the best selling album of the previous year - made the second album's recording sessions far less enjoyable than the first. Recording the album outside of their native England (in Morin Heights, Quebec) added to the difficulties.
The second album, Alpha, did ship platinum and contained the hits "Don't Cry" and "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes", but Geffen's hands-on pressure to score undeniable radio pop hits was starting to show. "We had a precious success," remembers Wetton. "We came in at the top, but it was an illusion to think we'd stay there. The band was still finding its feet as a musical entity."
Personal conflicts on the Alpha tour began pulling the band apart. In October, an announcement was made of a huge MTV and Westwood One Radio Network simulcast of the band's sold out December show at Tokyo's Budokan arena. Instead of a sense of euphoria within the band, John Wetton departed Asia in a move that stunned the rock world. He was replaced at the last moment for the Asia In Asia broadcast and Japanese dates by Palmer's ex-ELP band mate, Greg Lake. Lake's time with the band, however, would be short.
The band was re-constructed in 1984, with Wetton back on board. After a brief period of time working on the next album, Steve Howe departed to form GTR with former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett. Mandy Meyer of Krokus replaced Howe, and in 1985 the group released its third album, Astra. The album had a hit with "Voice Of America," but compared to the massive success of the first two albums, the members viewed Astra as a disappointment.
They never toured for Astra, and soon after Asia fell apart. Although no formal break-up announcement was made, within months the members were all off doing different projects. "We broke up too soon," remembered Carl Palmer during an interview in 1990. We were unique then, and we still are: English rock with a technical side; sophisticated rock mixed in with melodies and singles. It was taboo in those days, and you very rarely hear that today either."
Palmer regrouped in 1987 with Keith Emerson and unknown bassist named Robert Berry to form 3. Wetton started a musical project with his Roxy Music band mate, Phil Manzanera, and Downes did a myriad of projects including working with both Mike Oldfield and Greg Lake, as well as producing Steve Howe's new band, GTR. He also released an experimental instrumental solo album called The Light Programme under the moniker, "The New Dance Orchestra".
By 1990, Wetton, Palmer and Downes were ready to give it another go. They regrouped with American guitarist Pat Thrall (known for his work with Pat Travers and Glenn Hughes) and recorded new material. The new songs eventually surfaced as extra tracks in a best-of collection on Geffen, called Then & Now. "We were so musically compatible." said Wetton, at the time. "We had tried other things and had been frustrated by them. (1990) seemed to be the right time for Asia again."
They were placed on a summer tour of Europe with the unlikely headliners, The Beach Boys, where they played to 25,000 seat open arenas. Needless to say, the band was nervous about the audience reaction. However, they need not have worried as Asia received overwhelming positive response on every show of the tour.
"Each of us had been doing mainly studio work just prior to that tour," says Downes. "When it gets right down to it, we all missed playing together and the feeling of a band, the excitement of playing live and getting on a big stage again."
The reunion lasted nearly two years, including a memorable show that was filmed in Moscow's Red Square. "What I remember about that show," jokes Palmer, today, "is that we had Gorbachev's limo and we had to wait two hours for lunch from McDonald's!"
Shortly after the show in Russia, the band took another break. Palmer had the chance to reform Emerson, Lake & Palmer and did so in late 1991 with the Black Moon album. Wetton launched his long-awaited solo career, recording the critically acclaimed Battle Lines. Geoff Downes decided to carry on with Asia, reforming the band around him. In 1992, he enlisted newcomer John Payne on bass and vocals and recorded the Aqua album. The two men would record together for several years, working with various other musicians.
Palmer had a successful run again with ELP until the fall of 1998, when that band, too, went on hiatus. With John Wetton in-between solo projects and Downes willing to entertain offers for a reunion, suddenly all three men were available again to regroup as Asia. Due to his commitments with the re-formed Yes, Steve Howe was unavailable. However, the three other members all exchanged phone calls, and by Christmas of 1998, a reunion was looking possible.
The band announced plans for a world tour to begin on June 11th, 1999. After the tour, they had hoped to record a new album, with Downes and Wetton already writing songs again. Unfortunately, it was never to be. Almost as quickly as the whole project had begun, it dissolved. The event which so many had hoped for would have to wait for another day...
Shortly thereafter, Carl Palmer and John Wetton reunited in a new band called Qango. Featuring guitarist David Kilminster and keyboard player John Young, the group played a series of showcase dates in the UK in February 2000 which featured classic ELP, ASIA, and King Crimson material, along with some new material.
The shows were packed and well received, prompting the band to do several encores each night. "It was a wonderful feeling to be back on stage playing this material with our new band," said Palmer. Wetton added, "The shows went down very well and have made us excited about continuing with more tours and the recording of new material." Once again, however, this lineup was short-lived and, after the triumphant UK tour, Qango went their separate ways.
For the next few years, the original members remained busy with their individual projects. John Wetton returned to his solo career; Carl Palmer assembled his own outfit, "The Carl Palmer Band". Steve Howe toured extensively with Yes, and Geoff Downes continued on with his own Asia lineup.
Fate intervened in 2005 when Wetton and Downes found time to work together on new material that would eventually become the ICON album. The duo toured on the heels of the release, revisiting the glory years of Asia with standing ovations every night for the classic tunes.
But as the old saying goes, patience is a virtue...
Like a bolt from the blue, the stars aligned once again in early 2006. In April, all four original members of Asia confirmed that they would be reuniting for a world tour to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the band's creation and debut album.
"This is the REAL ASIA," says guitarist Steve Howe. "There have been other versions of the band, but this original line-up is the one that the public truly embraced. Since we only toured for a couple of years, it will be nice, finally, to play for audiences all over the world, many of whom never had a chance to see the group in concert."
An American tour was confirmed beginning in August, followed by dates in the UK, Japan, and Latin America. The sold-out Japanese tour yielded a live release, Fantasia: Live in Japan. The setlist for the tour featured the entire debut album, heritage tracks from each band member's pre-Asia bands as well as a few choice tracks from Alpha. As a special nod to fans who had stuck with the band over the years, an acoustic version of "Ride Easy", a b-side from the debut, was played live for the first time.
The tour continued well into 2007 with shows in North America and Europe and the band entered the studio for what would be yet another dream-come-true for fans; the first full studio album from the four original members of Asia since 1983's Alpha, entitled Phoenix.
Geoff described the enthusiasm within the band for the new project: "It’s great finally to give some new music to those Asia fans who have remained with us patiently all these years." Steve emphasised the band's ability to focus and called the new album "an enormous test, a challenge worthy of our intent. All the distractions usually evident vapourised, as we focused on collaborating to select and arrange these new songs, all in the style of Asia." Carl pointed to the dynamics within Asia that resulted in Phoenix, indicating the "chemistry and energy that comes out when the four of us are working together and the new material reflects this." For his part, John marvelled at how far the band had come from their tumultuous early years in the 1980s: "Each one of us is comfortable as a human being, and the sound on the CD Phoenix finally reflects the collective maturity of these four people who are not only eager to explore, but also relaxed enough to luxuriate in the strength of the material."
Fans and critics world-wide welcomed the new release enthusiastically, and the band hit the road once again through 2008 and 2009 touring in the UK, North America, Japan and Europe. Touring for Phoenix culminated in the summer of 2009 with a number of European festivals and a tour with Yes, featuring Steve Howe performing onstage with both bands. A live video from those shows, Spirit of the Night, was later released in 2010.
With the touring cycle for Phoenix behind them, Asia returned once again to the recording studio for a follow-up album, Omega, this time joined in the studio by producer Mike Paxman (Status Quo, Uriah Heep). Immediately upon its release they launched their 2010-2011 Omega world tour beginning with dates in Europe and Russia, before heading off to Japan, North America, Central America and South America, along with a second tour leg of Europe, closing off the Omega tour on June 18, 2011 in Malanga, Spain. A third official live release, Resonance, would be recorded in Switzerland for release in the autumn of 2012.
With six years of touring and two new studio albums under their collective belts, the four members of Asia decided to take a much-deserved break at the end of the Omega tour, with each returning to their own solo and other non-Asia band projects. 30 years after the Drama album, Geoff Downes accepted an invitation to return to Yes for a tour and the recording of a new album, Fly From Here. Steve Howe, in addition to his duties in Yes, recorded a new solo album, Time. Carl Palmer toured Europe and North America with his solo band, while also releasing the third volume in his Working Live series. John Wetton released and toured in support of his own new solo album, Raised in Captivity, and began to lay the groundwork for a reunion with his former UK bandmates, Eddie Jobson and Terry Bozzio.
Early 2012 brough the band back together in the studio, once again with Mike Paxman, to record their third post-reunion studio album, XXX, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the band. Once again, fan and critical reaction was exemplary, with many hailing the release as their best since the 1980s. An extensive world tour is scheduled for late 2012 and planning is already actively underway for 2013 and beyond.
The heat goes on, indeed!
Written by Bruce Pilato and Dave Gallant (August 2012).