U.K. are a British progressive rock supergroup originally active from 1977 until 1980. The band was composed of singer/bassist John Wetton (formerly of King Crimson, Roxy Music, Bryan Ferry's band and Uriah Heep), keyboardist/electric violinist Eddie Jobson (formerly of Curved Air, Roxy Music and Frank Zappa's band), guitarist Allan Holdsworth (formerly of Tempest, Soft Machine, The New Tony Williams Lifetime and Gong) and drummer Bill Bruford (formerly a full member of Yes and King Crimson, and also a tour drummer for Genesis), later replaced by drummer Terry Bozzio (formerly of Frank Zappa's band). UK have recently reformed with John Wetton, Eddie Jobson and Terry Bozzio for a world tour in 2012.
Formation and first album
Singer/bassist John Wetton and drummer Bill Bruford had worked together in King Crimson from 1972-4, when guitarist Robert Fripp disbanded the group. In July 1976, Bruford assisted Wetton on demos for a proposed solo album by the latter (a couple of these demos were later released on Monkey Business). In September 1976, they worked on forming a band with keyboardist Rick Wakeman, who had previously worked with Bruford in Yes. The project was stopped by Wakeman's label. According to Bruford, "A&M Records were unwilling to let their 'star,' Wakeman, walk off with a used, slightly soiled King Crimson rhythm section, and the idea failed."
Bruford and Wetton next asked guitarist Robert Fripp to reform King Crimson. When Fripp eventually declined, Bruford and Wetton decided that each would bring in a musician of his choice to form a new band. Wetton brought in keyboardist/violinist Eddie Jobson, whom Wetton knew from his work with Roxy Music in 1976 – "stealing" him from Frank Zappa. Bruford recruited guitarist Allan Holdsworth (formerly of Soft Machine and Gong) who had played guitar on Bruford's 1977 debut solo album, Feels Good to Me.
U.K. released their self-titled debut album in 1978 and followed it with a supporting tour. Following two lengthy American tours (June–October 1978), Wetton and Jobson decided to fire Holdsworth over musical differences and Bruford chose to depart as well. Bruford soon formed jazz rock fusion group Bruford and invited Holdsworth to join him.
After the departure of Bruford and Holdsworth, U.K. did not bring in another guitarist, instead becoming a trio with drummer Terry Bozzio (another one-time Frank Zappa band member). They recorded the studio album Danger Money, released in March 1979, and spent much of that year touring North America as opening act for Jethro Tull. The album spawned a minor hit single, "Nothing to Lose", which reached number 67 on the UK charts. A live album, Night After Night, was recorded in Japan that Spring and released in September. Following a final European tour in December 1979, and in spite of plans to record a new studio album in America in March 1980, U.K. disbanded as Jobson and Wetton had different ideas on how the band should develop. Jobson wanted UK to go on with more long instrumental pieces, while Wetton thought that performing shorter songs was a better idea. Jobson stated that one song in particular was the reason of the band to disband: "When Will You Realize?", a non-LP B-side (to date still unavailable on CD) featured on the "Night After Night" single, which Wetton would re-record (with slightly different lyrics) in 1980 on his solo album Caught In The Crossfire.
Jobson worked with Jethro Tull on the album A and went on to a solo career. Wetton, following the recording of his solo album Caught In The Crossfire (Summer 1980) and a brief stint with Wishbone Ash (October–December 1980), eventually left E.G. Records to sign with Geffen Records and ex-Yes manager Brian Lane and started Asia with Steve Howe, Carl Palmer and Geoffrey Downes. Bozzio formed Missing Persons with his then-wife Dale Bozzio, guitarist Warren Cuccurullo and bassist Patrick O'Hearn – all four also from line-ups with Zappa. Holdsworth and Bozzio played together in HoBoLeMa almost three decades later.
From 1995 to 1998, Jobson and Wetton worked together on a proposed U.K. reunion album, also recording contributions by Bruford, Tony Levin, Steve Hackett and Francis Dunnery. When Wetton departed, "Legacy" became an Eddie Jobson solo project, with Wetton replaced on lead vocals by Aaron Lippert. However, Jobson eventually abandoned the project. Three tracks intended for it found their way onto Voices of Life, a compilation by Bulgarian Women's Choir organised by Jobson.
UKZ and reunion
In October 2007, Jobson announced a new band, UKZ, with Lippert and former King Crimson bassist/guitarist Trey Gunn among others, which released an EP called "Radiation" in March 2009. In late 2009, Jobson and Wetton both talked about a possible reunion of U.K. A U.K. reunion tour in February/March 2010 with Jobson, Wetton, Marco Minnemann on drums (from UKZ) and Greg Howe (Victor Wooten, Vitalij Kuprij, Michael Jackson) on guitar was described to promoters, but not confirmed by Wetton.
Wetton and Jobson performed three concerts in Poland in November 2009 as part of Jobson's Ultimate Zero (U-Z) project. The line-up also featured Marco Minnemann (drums), Greg Howe (guitar) and Tony Levin (stick). They performed music from UK and King Crimson. A CD compiled from various U-Z performances from 2009, including multiple tracks from the Polish shows, has been released.
It was announced on 11 February 2011, and later confirmed by John Wetton on his website, that U.K. were to play two shows in Japan on 15 and 16 April 2011. The line-up was Jobson, Wetton, Alex Machacek, and Marco Minnemann. Wetton's comment was "I think you can drop the 'Z', now". US dates, including a show in San Francisco, were also announced and performed in April 2011. A DVD called "Reunion: Live in Tokio" was culled from these shows and officially released in 2013.
U.K. have then reformed with Wetton, Jobson and Bozzio for an American tour in 2012. The line-up for the subsequent European tour, other than Jobson and Wetton as usual, included also drummer Gary Husband and guitarist Alex Machacek who had already played with Jobson on the "Radiation" EP by UKZ.
In 2013, U.K. did an "Azure Seas" tour with Bozzio on drums and Machacek on guitar, and an East Coast tour with Virgil Donati replacing Bozzio. On 8th November of the same year, the band did also a special concert performance of their two studio albums in Kawasaki, in Japan. The drummer for that special concert was Marco Minneman.
U.K. have announced their appearance in the 2014 edition of "Cruise to the Edge". The line-up will include Jobson, Wetton, Machacek and Donati.
Throughout their brief existence, U.K.'s music was characterised by skilled musicianship, jazzy harmonies, close harmony vocals, odd-numbered time signatures, mixed meters, electric violin solos, and unusually varied synthesiser (Yamaha CS-80) sonorities.
- John Wetton: Bass Guitar, Vocals (1977–1980, 2011–present)
- Eddie Jobson: Keyboards, Violin, Backing Vocals (1977–1980, 2011–present)
- Allan Holdsworth: Guitar (1977–1978)
- Bill Bruford: Drums, Percussion (1977–1978)
- Terry Bozzio: Drums, Percussion (1978–1980, 2012-2013)
- Alex Machacek: Guitar (2011-present)
- Gary Husband : Drums, Percussion (2012)
- Marco Minnemann : Drums, Percussion (2011, 2013)
- Virgil Donati: Drums, Percussion (2013, 2014)
- UK 2012 world tour reunion website
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Image from Discogs