“I really didn’t expect the scale of the success”: The story behind Asia’s self-titled debut album

The game-changing, self-titled debut album from a brand-new group named Asia was released on March 8, 1982. Though the band responsible was a fresh entity, its four members could not have been any more familiar. Guitarist Steve Howe and keyboard player Geoff Downes both came from Yes (before that, Downes had been one half of the chart-topping pop duo The Buggles). Carl Palmer boasted a lengthy resume that included The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, Atomic Rooster and, most recently, Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Last but by no means least, on bass and vocals was John Wetton, formerly of Family, King Crimson, Roxy Music, UK and Wishbone Ash, among others. 

A little over two months later, Asia had sailed past platinum-selling status to leapfrog Chariots Of Fire by Vangelis and land proudly atop the US Billboard album chart. Though it was displaced for three weeks by Paul McCartney’s Tug Of War, the album bounced back for a further seven weeks, spending a total of nine at the pinnacle. Come the year’s end, Asia was acknowledged as America’s best-selling record of 1982. At the last count it had accumulated sales of more than 10 million copies.