John Wetton's widow has fired back at fans with complaints about Asia's newly rebuilt lineup.

Co-founder Geoff Downes introduced the new members in advance of a multi-act summer tour. Wetton died in 2017, while original guitarist Steve Howe and drummer Carl Palmer are busy with other projects.

"It would be easy for me to dismiss Asia without its other band members, proclaiming that it's not really the band so there's no point in them going on," Lisa Wetton says in an official statement. "There's a problem with this statement: John Wetton himself would have endorsed this tour as he wanted the music to live on."

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The founding four were only initially together for a couple of years. Asia continued with a rotating series of players before Downes, Howe, Palmer and Wetton finally reunited between 2006-13. Downes remains the only person to have appeared in every incarnation of the group.

Some fans also suggested that the lineup shouldn't be called Asia. Wetton "would have wanted the name to remain, as long as Geoff leads the way," Lisa counters. "Changing the name would go against John's wishes. This is still Asia, and the current group have worked closely with Geoff Downes to respect the integrity of the music. I have seen it and feel comfortable with this current lineup."

Downes has said inspiration for a new version of Asia emerged from the Extraordinary Life Memorial Concert, the 2023 tribute show where bass-playing vocalist Harry Whitley so deftly inhabited Wetton's lyrics. Lisa Wetton was similarly impressed.

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"It was the first time the outside world would hear the phenomenal Harry Whitley on lead vocals," she says. "Most everyone, including myself, was stunned by Harry's evocative voice, which shares an eerily similar tonal quality to that of John Wetton. Geoff introduced Whitley to a wider audience and we all knew this would be the start of something very special – a new chapter for Asia."

The updated lineup is rounded out by players with direct connections to Asia's co-founding frontman. Guitarist John Mitchell, another performer from the Extraordinary Life Memorial Concert, worked with Wetton and Downes in Icon and the John Wetton Band. Drummer Virgil Donati was part of a memorable reunion of the prog-rock band UK with Wetton.

"The current lineup gives the music a fresh energy which I haven't experienced since John was alive," Lisa Wetton adds. "I am personally thrilled to get behind this tour, and I know you will be thrilled too."

The Heat of the Moment Tour will hit 21 North American cities in July. Also featured are Martin Turner of Wishbone Ash, Focus, Curved Air and emcee Roger Dean, the artist who created Asia's album covers.

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Gallery Credit: Nick DeRiso

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