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The Passing of Another Wonderful Voice

Today, while eating dinner, I received a call from my oldest son (favorite???), who told me of the passing of John Wetton.

You know there are people who are arguably more important in my life who have passed (per my wife who just doesn't understand), such as my father and mother, my mother-in-law and soon, my brother-in-law.

However, as I have always used music as an escape from the crap around me, I am devestated by my son calling me tonight to inform me of Mr. John Wetton's passing.

First, I want to let his entire family know how sad I am at their loss.
Secondly, I want all of his closest and dearest friends know that I feel for their loss.
Thirdly, for all of John's fans, I weep with you.

For myself, I face the fact that another voice that I used to help me through all of the dark and difficult times of my childhood has been silenced. I am thankful that I have been able to enjoy them in my darkest times, but sorrowful that I will never enjoy their future.

I have love so many songs in my life for so many reasons. However, there have been 5 vocalists over the years that have always reached me in a way that others haven't been able too. John Wetton was number 2 on my list. And now, he is the 3rd of that list to pass.

Robert Lamm - Number 1 - I could listen to anything he ever sang on.  Chicago - Solo - even in the shower.  If he sang the phone book on CD, I would purchase it an enjoy it.  When I watch Chicago, my eyes and ears focus on him.
John Wetton - KC - UK - Asia - Solo - wow!!!! I WILL NEVER hear "Rendezvous 602" live again, or any of his Asia works. I had hoped Asia's schedule this year would bring them close enough for me to see again. I cherish the times I have been graced to watch him live and I have always loved his voice and his incredible Bass playing.
Carl Wilson - Such a beautiful voice, silenced way to soon - "I Can Hear Music" - the perfect example of the limetless quality of his voice.
Greg Lake - taken way to early. The pleasure I always received from all of KC - ELP - Solo works. So happy I have seen him live so many times, and to have heard "Karnevil #9", "From the Beginning" and "In the Court of the Crimson King".
John Lodge - Moodies - I can listen to "Isn't Life Strange" time after time on my Ipod without complaint.  Although it lacks the power of the first 4, it has a panache that I cherish.  "Ride My See Saw", "Just A Singer", "Stepping In A Slide Zone". "Sitting At the Wheel", ..............

Now 3 of my all-time favorite voices silenced. I feel such a sense of loss.

I know it is selfish on my part, but if feel gutted.

I guess we are all mortal, as well as our Idols/Hero's.  I learned at a young age that this was true when my favorite Base Ball player, Thurman Munson died way to soon.  Now as I am older and realize the danger of hero's and  idols, I still feel grief at their passing.

Who has touched you life in the "marginal" world of music and passed, and how has it affected you?

Please note that I intend no insult in the use of the word marginal.  I just use it as a deference to our families, friends and loved ones, vs. the people who we have never met, yet still have touched our lives.

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  • I'm shattered, utterly shattered. I had the opportunity to work with John back in the early '90s, very briefly, and one evening, we spoke into the night, discussing writing. I knew I wanted to write professionally, but at that juncture, wasn't sure if my music career aspirations might extend into songwriting, or if I was destined to be a novelist. John took the time to read my poetry, offering suggstions on lyrical structures, and then flipped through my notebook, reading ideas for short stories with enthusiasm. He was a voracious reader and it meant so much that he took that time and energy to make suggestions on my writing.

    Our paths crossed several times in those years, and then on-line, where he was so open about his health struggles. When my husband had triple bypass surgery last year, I remember trying to bolster his spirits reminding him that John had had the same surgery in the same fairly urgent circumstances, and was traveling and singing his heart out afterward. It was a small thing in this midst of the terror of my husband's life and death struggle, but it bolstered his spirit a little bit in a time when we both needed hope.


    Btw, my husband's doing great a year later--every positive circumstance that could happen did, including catching the medical issue before a heart attack could occur. He was back at work a month after surgery and sending me off to a concert with the admonision to stop hovering within two months of his surgery.


    John was every bit the English gentleman, supremely intelligent, kind, well read, an incredibly talented musician and songwriter. Coming on the virtual heels of the deaths of Chris Squire, Greg Lake, and Keith Emerson, and, of course, Trent Gardner, the prog world has suffered some major losses recently. My heart breaks for the Wetton family, especially his wife, Lisa (who, he married late last year), son, Dylan, his mother, who is over a hundred years old, and his elder brother. And his band mates, who have weathered these losses, too, and over such a short timeframe. And everyone who was touched by John's musical accomplishments, my heart is with yours.

    It just brings forth the conviction I have to thank artists for giving us their music, especially when we're blessed to have world in which thanks can be passed along on-line, many times directly to the artist.

    I would not likely be alive today if not for the healing power of music and the kind words of a musician when my dad was at one of his lowest moments. A chance encounter with my dad's favorite member of his favorite band kept my dad from suicide one very dark night, as he was struggling with his war service. I was born a year later.

    Being able to thank that musician in a letter (I would have completely broken down if I'd tried to speak the words to him face to face) was something I needed to do, for the memory of my dad, who died of cancer when he was way too young--44. And for me, too. I didn't even know the story until my dad was dying, and when I knew, it crystallized a lot of the power of music, and the way it had bound my dad and me.

    Franc, four of your five voices are on my list, too, with Robert at the top, followed by Carl, John, and Greg. I feel so lucky to have met them all. There's something arresting and very special about hearing a voice that has been present in the soundtrack of your life speaking to you directly.

    It isn't selfish at all to feel gutted. The first time I remember my dad crying was when Terry died. The second, was when John Lennon died. We all make connections to art that are deeply emotional and very personal. It is natural to feel pain for th loss of the human behind the art.
  • And let's not forget John's contribution to a great English band FAMILY - and their storming song The Weaver's Answer

    Weaver of life, let me look and see
    The pattern of my life gone by
    Shown on your tapestry
    Just for one second, one glance upon your loom
    The flower of my childhood could appear within this room
    Does it of my youth show tears of yesterday
    Broken hearts within a heart as love first came my way

  • Franc, I'll get too moody and philosophical if I think about this topic too much, but for most of my lifetime I have just assumed that there is nothing left of the music world. It's all history, no present or future. I know that is not true and there are still many great artists from the past out there and new ones being broken in, but thinking like this just makes me appreciate everyone who I have gotten to see. I never assume there will be a next time. 

    Of course, I was very sad when Carl Wilson passed away. The best Beach Boys show I saw was in 1994 at Great Woods in Massachusetts. The Everly Brothers opened.. fantastic! Great Woods is also the last place I saw Chicago. I took an Irish boyfriend who really didn't get it, sadly, and just called everything I listed to "oldies." So, yes, the music is always tied up in our personal lives.  I also vividly remember the day George Harrison passed. I had to go to work at a job I hated but paid the bills.

    Yesterday and today, I played some Chicago for my students (ages 5-12) and told them Terry would have been 71. They love me because I don't try to put round pegs into square holes. I made new holes for the round pegs, and everyone fits in somewhere. It is my tribute to TK. :)     

    • Stephanie, great points.  I am blessed that my oldest son, and my daughter both love the music I love (my other son likes rap???) and have shared it with me for years.  Several years ago, my son and I identifies groups that we felt might not tour for much longer due to age, replacements/defections, retirements and death.  

      We have been trying to check groups off that "Bucket" list, especially groups he may not have seen because of his age.  Each of the last two years we have seen Kansas.  We saw Yes the year before Chris Squire passed.  UK in their final tour.  Steve Hackett, Marillion, Spocks Beard and many others.  I think we are enjoying in a different way that we would have just a few years ago.  After the show, we aren't critiquing song selections or how they sounded, but rather cherishing that we were able to enjoy them one more/last time.

      I know the artists of my childhood and young adulthood are now in their 60's and 70's, and I hope they live and perform forever, but now I enjoy them differently with more regard for the sum total of what they have shared with me rather than a critical analysis of their most recent show or CD.

      Thank you.

    • Well said and very cool you and your older son have shared all those concerts and music together. Find The Last Poets first album from 1970 for your younger son and tell him that Robert sampled them, blunt and profane, but also very intelligent and a candid and historical black nationalist point of view. And Robert's "bonus track" on Now, Another Trippy Day, has a heavy hip hop influence. I love it!  

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