Here you will find information formatted for journalistic needs including photos, biographies, FAQ’s, and suggested books on Tull.
All Too Frequently Asked Questions
The following is an imaginary interview of the sort which I do several times a day at the peak of promotional activity, and where the most common topics eat up valuable time, thereby reducing the number of interesting and original questions and answers which might have been fitted in.
How did you get the name Jethro Tull?
Back in February, 1968, we had many different names which usually changed every week, since we were so bad that we had to pretend to be some new band in order to get re-booked in the clubs where we aspired to find fame and fortune. Our agent, who had studied History at college, came up with the name Jethro Tull (an eighteenth century English agricultural pioneer who invented the seed drill). That was the band name during the week in which London’s famous Marquee Club offered us the Thursday night residency. So it stuck. Is it too late to change? I thought so.
Who are the current band members?
Myself, Ian Anderson, on flute, vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica and mandolin. Martin Barre on Electric guitar. Doane Perry on drums. John O’Hara on keyboards and David Goodier on bass.
Why have there been so many changes in line-up over the years?
Lots of different reasons. Some of the boys left to get married, settle down, form their own bands, that sort of thing. Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond left to be a painter. John Glascock tragically died from a heart disease. And two were fired. We are all pretty good pals now. Like a big extended family of two football teams.
In 1976, you named a famous Tull track “Too Old To Rock And Roll”. What do you feel about this title, looking back on it now?
It was not, then or now, an autobiographical statement. It was an album track which was about the cyclic changes of fashion in culture, pop and rock music. Quite predictive for 1975 really, given the endless recycling of 60′s and 70′s musical influences which fill the charts these days.
In 1973, Jethro Tull disbanded following the bad reviews of “A Passion Play”. Why?
No, we didn’t! Our then manager decided to respond to a bad review in the influential pop newspaper Melody Maker by cutting a deal with the editor for a front page “scoop” involving the band’s supposed decision to quit. We knew nothing about it until we read it in the paper ourselves, and we were furious. It made us look petulant and silly. Which we probably were, but we didn’t need the wrong kind of publicity. Tull have never disbanded, even for a moment. No come-back tours for us, thank you very much. We haven’t yet been away!
Are you, like the song, “Living in the Past”?
I am not one for nostalgia or reminiscences and prefer to live in the present and the future. However, some of our audience obviously like the nostalgia bit, and the older material which we play is, for them perhaps, a trip down memory lane. For us, it’s not about playing a song which could be thirty years old. It’s about playing something 24 hours old, since that’s when we probably last played it on stage. Our style of music is, I hope, a little bit timeless and not rooted in a particular music fashion.
Pop and Rock music have changed a great deal over the last 30 years. How do you view these changes? And do you listen to the new music like Techno and Rap?
Well, the really big changes were back in the early years of the mid-to-late sixties and the early seventies. The introduction of musical influences from many diverse world cultures and historical periods provided for a rapidly evolving and richly creative musical environment. Folk, Classical, Blues, Jazz and Asian motifs and forms broadened the scope of American-derived pop and rock. Tull were a part of that evolution. Since the mid-seventies, the development has been more technological rather than musical. Sampling, synthesis, sequencing and the personal home computer revolution have brought music making to the masses at an affordable price. But the music goes round in circles. Same old simple rhythms, melodies, harmonies and verse/chorus/bridge song structures. Nothing really changes: nothing is really new. But each new generation of young musicians rediscovers the wheel, The Beatles, sunglasses and stretch limousines. As long as they and their fans think it is new, why disappoint them? Give the kids a pot of paint and they will repaint their house. Same old bricks underneath. Techno and Rap? Just nursery rhymes with attitude. Nice idea but going round in very small circles.
You are now one of the old men of rock – over 50 years of age. How long do you plan do go on performing and recording?
As long as it remains a challenge and my health permits. One year: ten years – who knows? Then there are painting, writing and other creative indulgences to consider. Which will go first: the eyes, ears or the hands? Fear of boredom in old age is my greatest concern.
Do you have Family? A wife? Children? Where do you live?
I enjoy the company and love of my wife of 23 years, Shona, two children, James and Gael, both at University, five cats, two dogs and some horses and chickens. We live in an eighteenth century English country house with a recording studio, 400 acres of wheat, barley and trees about 100 miles west of London. Disgusting isn’t it? Want to swap? Thought so.
Is it true you are also a fish farmer? How did you get interested in that hobby and will you retire from music to concentrate on it full-time one day?
In 1978, we bought a second home in Scotland, where I was born. We were looking for some way to off-set the cost of owning the property and I read, in an airline magazine as I recall, an article about Aquaculture. We set up a Salmon farm at the beginning of that then new industry’s development. A smoking and processing factory and more fish farms followed and today they employ about 250 people in the Highlands of Scotland. But my time on the business is limited to around one day a month. When I wake up in the morning, I am a musician, not a farmer or fish salesman. That’s what I pay other people to do. I just like eating smoked salmon from one of the most beautiful parts of the world. Death may beckon, but retirement does not.
Do you listen to new bands and who are your favourites?
I receive rather a lot of unsolicited demo tapes and CD’s from would-be musicians as well as from more professional performers, so I listen to a lot of “new” stuff that way. The car radio and music television keep me as informed as I want to be. But I have never been a great listener of other people’s work. Even when I first started, I listened only to a few things which really caught my attention. My favourite music to listen to these days is that of Muddy Waters, Beethoven and Indian Classical and pop music.
Jethro Tull is one of the legends of Rock. Why do you think the band has lasted so long?
The loyalty of our fans keeps us in work and pocket money. Some artists have fickle fans who have short attention spans. More loyal and committed fans ensure that the work of some bands like Zeppelin, The Grateful Dead, Hendrix and the Stones won’t fade away. Tull is just a lesser version of those rock giants whose music will go on to define the form in the history books of the future.
Early in 1968, a group of young British musicians, born from the ashes of various failed regional bands gathered together in hunger, destitution and modest optimism in Luton, North of London. With a common love of Blues and an appreciation, between them, of various other music forms, they started to win over a small but enthusiastic audience in the various pubs and clubs of Southern England. The breakthrough came when they were offered the Thursday night residency at London’s famous Marquee Club in Wardour Street, Soho.
The early Jethro Tull released their first Blues-oriented album, This Was, in the latter part of 1968 before moving on to more home-grown and eclectic efforts in 1969 with Stand Up and a flutter of single releases, including Living In The Past, in the UK market.
Benefit, Aqualung, and Thick As A Brick followed and the band’s success grew internationally. Various band members came and went, but the charismatic front man and composer, flautist and singer Ian Anderson continued, as he does to this day, to lead the group through its various musical incarnations.
Jethro Tull were, by the mid-seventies, one of the most successful live performing acts on the world stage, rivalling Zeppelin, Elton John and even the Rolling Stones. Surprising, really, for a group whose more sophisticated and evolved stylistic extravagance was far from the Pop and Rock norm of that era.
With now some 30-odd albums to their credit and sales totalling more than 50 million, the apparently uncommercial Tull have continued over the next three decades to travel near and far to fans across the world.
After forty years at the bottom, at the top and various points in between, Tull are still performing typically more than a hundred concerts each year. Ian Anderson and Martin Barre remain at the centre of a group of sometimes changing but highly capable – indeed excellent – musicians. Currently, Doane Perry, veteran Tull drummer of some 24 years experience, together with John O’Hara on piano and accordion, and David Goodier on bass guitar are to be found in the line-up, delighting audiences and continuing the legacy of Tull’s music with its rich variety and depth of expression wherever fans, young and old, want to hear Rock, Folk, Jazz and Classical-inspired music for grown-ups.
Ian Anderson, known throughout the world of rock music as the flute and voice behind the legendary Jethro Tull, celebrates his 44th year as an international recording and performing musician in 2012.
Ian was born in 1947 in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland. After attending primary school in Edinburgh, his family relocated to Blackpool in the north of England in 1959. Following a traditional Grammar school education, he moved on to Art college to study fine art before deciding on an attempt at a musical career.
Tull formed in 1968 out of the amalgamation of the John Evan Band and McGregor’s Engine, two blues-based local UK groups.
After a lengthy career, Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull have released 30 studio and live albums, selling more than 60 million copies since the band first performed at London’s famous Marquee Club in February 1968.
After undertaking more than 3000 concerts in 40 countries throughout four decades, he has typically played 100-plus concerts each year to longstanding, as well as new fans worldwide. Widely recognized as the man who introduced the flute to rock music, Ian Anderson remains the crowned exponent of the popular and rock genres of flute playing. So far, no real pretender to the throne has stepped forward. Ian also plays ethnic flutes and whistles together with acoustic guitar and the mandolin family of instruments, providing the acoustic textures which has been an integral part of most of the Tull repertoire.
Anderson has so far recorded four diverse solo albums in his career: 1983′s “Walk Into Light”, the flute instrumental “Divinities” album for EMI’s Classical Music Division in 1995 which reached number one in the relevant Billboard chart, and the more recently recorded acoustic collections of songs, “The Secret Language of Birds”, and “Rupi’s Dance”. New recordings are scheduled for release in 2012 and 2013.
In recent years, he has toured more and more under his own name in solo concerts with orchestras, string quartets, featured soloists and in his other eclectic acoustic shows. Most of the concerts scheduled for 2012 and 2013 will feature the Thick As A Brick sequel, TAAB2 – Whatever Happened To Gerald Bostock? as well as the original Thick As A Brick album, both performed in their entirety live or, on some shows, various other repertoire staples and favourites.
Anderson lives on a farm in the southwest of England where he has a recording and rehearsal studio and offices. He has been married for 36 years to Shona who is also an active director of their music and other companies. They have two children – James and Gael – and two grandchildren. Gael is married to actor Andrew Lincoln, currently shooting more episodes of the hugely-acclaimed zombie thriller, The Walking Dead, for TV broadcast in 2012 and 2013.
His hobbies include the growing of many varieties of hot chile peppers, the study and conservation of the 26 species of small wildcats of the world and the appreciation of mechanical watches, fountain pens and vintage cameras. He reluctantly admits to owning digital cameras and scanners for his work on the photographic promotional images related to Tull as well as his solo career.
In 2006, he was awarded a Doctorate in Literature from Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, the Ivor Award for International Achievement in Music and, in the New Years Honours List 2008, an MBE for services to music. In 2011, he received another Doctorate in Literature from Dundee University.
Ian owns no fast car, never having taken a driving test, and has a wardrobe of singularly uninspiring and drab leisurewear. He still keeps a couple of off-road competition motorcycles, a few sporting guns and a saxophone which he promises never to play again.
He declares a lifelong commitment to music as a profession, being far too young to hang up his hat or his flute, although the tights and codpiece have long since been consigned to some forgotten bottom drawer.
By Ian Anderson
Over the years, there have been a fair few writers who have attempted to plumb the unfathomable depths of The Jolly Jethros’ secret lives: not that there is much to plumb. Maybe the odd grubby descent into Jogmania, Pussycatology, or overindulgence at the table of the Great God Hurry Curry.
The first one I remember was an Australian (bloke) who, at the time of “A Passion Play,” wrote some obscure but well-meaning treatise on me as the poet – a thoroughly wasted literary journey since I have a distinct dislike of poetry in general and have never modelled myself on its weird and fanciful practitioners. I believe it was entitled “To Be The Play.” Not many copies have survived, methinks, to grace the book cabinets and libraries of the disciples of Rock. He was a nice man, ‘though and travelled with the band in the great down-under for a few days in 1972, I think I remember.
In 1993, Karl Schramm and Gerrard J. Burns took upon themselves (with a little help from truly-yours) to fashion the then complete lyrics of Tull songs from the album covers’ lyric pages, the deciphered mutterings of the records themselves and the half-remembered words which each night I sing with gay abandon on the concert stage but can never recall the next morning if asked so to do.
Together with some anecdotal support from interviews with me, this book – hardbacked to the core – puts down for once and for all the wordy cravings and meanderings of youth, maturity and middle-to-late age. Must bring it up to date soon.
The first more analytical attempt of note was the more informed and down to earth biographical approach of one David Rees – a modest chap who, through the good offices of the Tull Fanzine “A New Day” had a wealth of gathered facts and interview snippets to draw upon. Combined with the input of his fully feathered friends in the Tull fan community, this material was honed into the book known, revered and worshipped as the first real compilation of facts and a little forgivable fiction, as “Minstrels In The Gallery.” With photographic additions from Martin Webb – himself an author of articles on rare records – Mark Colman and others, this book galvanised others to follow suit.
The Americans were not to be left out with a trilogy of efforts forthcoming in the last two or three years.
Barbara Espinoza wrote to me to ask for interviews and contacts for a proposed book. She managed the unthinkable: an interview with the reclusive hermit, Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond! Jeffrey offered up some Driving In Diverse: A Collective Profile thoughts on his life and work, which he wouldn’t ordinarily share with me – and I see him every few months for lunch or dinner. What a treat to see this in print. He probably made most of it up ‘though.
Barbara needs a little help on the proof-reading front – a lot of typos and grammatical no-no’s here, but still a good read. Published in 1999, her book is curiously named “Driving In Diverse.”
Greg Russo’s “ Flying Colours” is a book with a different feel. A large and packed handbook/reference manual theme offers much researched and gathered detail. Without so much direct input from the band members, Greg has brought together astonishing bits and bobs to delight the Tull fan seeking after the tiniest pearl of information, useful only – perhaps – to the son of fruit-fly or the criminally and pathologically nerdomaniacal. Bags to ponder on here. Published in 2000.
Scott Allen Nollen, a writer on the subject of classic film, literature and music, produced the well-researched work “Jethro Tull – A History Of The Band 1968-2001.” With notable contributions from other band members, this book has a foreword by me – which must mean that I endorse the entire content in every last shard of detail. In fact, I cannot quite bring myself to read the whole thing – or any of these other books for that matter – since it is all a bit close to home and my memory occasionally disagrees with the recollections of other witnesses to the tale.
A new entrant to the Tull author hall of infamy is Raymond Benson – the official author of contemporary James Bond books. Raymond has now completed a small but perfectly formed (how would I know, since I haven’t seen it) little book of modest dimension and price to initiate the less demanding potential reader of Tull stuff and nonsense. In this, the “Pocket Essential Jethro Tull,”Raymond has had a little help from me by way of interview and encouragement, mostly on account of his continued sending of the latest Bond publication, completely free of charge. As the once-proud owner of a Walther P88 pistol – specially set aside for me by the makers – with the serial number 007, I have still a soft spot for the Bond saga. Sadly, said gun has been forcibly neutered under the draconian revisions to UK firearms laws and is relegated to the far reaches of my gun safe. It actually had a grungy single action trigger pull and the double action was even more of a pig. God give me back my Browning Hi-Power with the Barstow match barrel and the MMC target sights. Trigger pull a safe pound and three quarters and reliable with all known 9mm ammunition. Sadly neutered also.
The above authors have all reached out to long-standing Tull fans and neophytes alike with a huge investment in time, labour and commitment. Their love of the band comes shining through and I take my hat off to them all. Far too lazy to put pen to paper or digit to QWERTY, I leave this rarified atmosphere to their own circular breathing.
There have, of course been other Tull authors from other countries, published in their native tongues, and forgive me for not mentioning their names and efforts here. I guess you will find them, on the w.w. web, as indeed you will those detailed above.
Am***n.com will oblige and B****s and N**b*l can probably take your money too.
So, give the ears a rest. Pick up a book sometime and let their words do the talking. Here’s to all the Tull authors – bet they never do it again!