Howe formed the group in 1981 after leaving Yes with John Wetton of King Crimson, Carl Palmer of Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Geoff Downes of the Buggles. He stayed for the group's first two albums before leaving over differences with Wetton. Over the years, he had rejoined Asia on a number of occasions returning permanently in 2006.
Howe announced the break on his website:
I have left Asia to concentrate on Yes, my solo work & my Trio. I've enjoyed the 6 years of touring and recording with Asia, but now it's time to focus more on the above mentioned formations.The group also issued a press release:
Steve Howe to step downIn December, Asia was forced to cancel their 30th anniversary U.K. tour when Carl Palmer contracted a serious case of E.coli.
ASIA announces that guitarist Steve Howe has relinquished his position in the band, in order to concentrate fully on his work on other projects. Steve said, "Myself and the band wish to thank their fans for the enthusiasm shown during the original members’ reunion. I will continue with Yes, and with my trio and solo guitar work. I wish my friends continued success".
In 2006 the original band reunited for a tour of USA, which was followed by four world tours and several continental tours. The reunited band has played over 300 shows and released three new studio albums, three DVDs and a number of live albums. The track An Extraordinary Life, from 2008’s album Phoenix was chosen as the theme music for America’s Got Talent.
ASIA formed as a supergroup of stunning pedigrees, bringing together songwriter, lead vocalist and bassist John Wetton [King Crimson, UK], keyboardist Geoff Downes [Yes, The Buggles], drummer extraordinaire Carl Palmer [ELP] and Steve Howe [Yes]. Their self-titled debut album was the biggest selling album in the world in 1982 and monopolized the Number 1 slot in the Billboard charts for 9 weeks. The album is still in the top 3 Geffen sales of all time, with Guns ’n’ Roses and Whitesnake! With tracks like mega-hit Heat Of The Moment, ASIA helped to create the MTV phenomenon. The band’s work perfected the use of videos that encompassed stories and messages, examples being the work for Wildest Dreams, Only Time Will Tell, The Smile Has Left Your Eyes and Don’t Cry. Heat Of The Moment is still a radio fixture and has been in top TV and films including 40 Year Old Virgin, South Park, Cold Case, The Matador and countless others.
The end of Steve’s time with the band marks the start of a new chapter for ASIA and a further announcement regarding new personnel, 2013 live appearances and new material is forthcoming.