Turmoil and Redos: The Unlikely Success of Asia’s ‘Don’t Cry’
Nothing came easy for Asia on their way to scoring a second Top 10 hit with "Don't Cry."
The rock supergroup – made up of former members of Yes, King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer – enjoyed a triumphant debut with their 1982 self-titled album. The multiplatinum success of Asia, and its defining single “Heat of the Moment,” bred eager anticipation for the band's follow-up.
Ultimately, Asia was unable to meet these high expectations with their sophomore effort, Alpha. Even though the lead single "Don't Cry" climbed to No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1983, the band was never the same following the song's success.
Why Was Asia Dissatisfied With Alpha?
"Alpha was a record that I'm not saying is actually bad, but it was just terribly finished off," guitarist Steve Howe shared in the 2016 book, Time and a Word: The Yes Story. "Mixed in completely ass-about-face values." Carl Palmer offered a more straightforward assessment of Alpha. "The second album was a complete mistake and was put together, possibly, through greed the 'chasing the single' syndrome," the drummer noted. "It was just full of pop tunes that just died miserably."
While the band was not entirely pleased with Alpha, the lead single "Don't Cry," did find a sizable audience as it shot up the charts.
Not helping matters was the fact Asia's members felt they were finished with the album before even writing the song.
How 'Don't Cry' Came to Be and What It Did to the Band
John Wetton recalled being exhausted as the band played a recording of what they thought was a completed album for record company reps.
"I heard this voice behind me that said, 'Mmm, I don't hear a single.'" Wetton shared in Time and a Word: The Yes Story. "So that evening, Geoff [Downes] and I sat down at the piano and wrote 'Don't Cry.' It was tough."
"Don't Cry" was released in July 1983 before Alpha arrived the following month. The single was backed by a somewhat curious video where Wetton went full Indiana Jones.
Watch Asia's 'Don't Cry' Video
Despite the success of the song, Asia would suffer a steep drop-off as follow-up singles missed the mark and band members struggled with life on the road.
Howe blamed "too many champagne breakfasts" for the group's turmoil while touring in support of the album. "That's when I started driving myself to shows rather than fly with the band," he admitted to Classic Rock in 2020. "But we ended up pulling the final dates. It was a mess."
The guitarist pointed toward Wetton's apparent inability to keep things on track as one of the driving factors of Asia's dissension. "He said, 'It's not all me.' Yes, but if you're singing and playing and you go somewhere we don't know, we're going to have problems," Howe noted.
Wetton left Asia for the first time in October 1983. This would set off a series of lineup changes where both he and Howe were in and out of the band until Wetton died in 2017.