Keyboards – 1971-1980
John Evan (born John Spencer Evans, 28 March 1948), played keyboards for Jethro Tull from April 1970 to June 1980. He was educated at King’s College London.
Evans was born in Blackpool, Lancashire. JE joined Ian Anderson and Jeffrey Hammond in 1964 in the school band, The Blades, where they played Jazz and Blues in local youth clubs. They then formed the band “John Evan’s Smash” in 1967 along with Ian Anderson, Barriemore Barlow, and other members Tony Wilkinson and Neil Murray). The group disbanded in 1967
Later on, Evan was attending college when he happened to recognize his former band mates on radio with the song, Living In The Past, remarking years later that it stood out to him because of its quite unusual time signature for a Pop song. In 1970, he played as a session musician on Tull’s Benefit album (where his acknowledgement reads: “…and John Evan, who played keyboards for our benefit.”), and was eventually convinced by Ian Anderson to leave school to become a full-fledged member of the band. In addition to his many distinctive contributions to the group’s overall musical sound and stage personality, it is also notable that Evan composed the memorable piano introduction to Locomotive Breath, having achieved this task in studio while some of the other band members were out to lunch.
Whilst with Jethro Tull, Evan had a penchant for wearing his trademark white suit, along with a yellow shirt underneath and a pink-and-yellow polka-dot tie. Evan can be seen wearing this outfit in photographs on the album War Child, and the live album Bursting Out, while a painted version of him is seen wearing the suit and tie on the inside cover of the Aqualung album. During concerts, Evan’s wildly rendered pantomime gestures would conjure visions for audiences of a cross between Harpo Marx and The Hatter from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (sans the hat). Because of the familiar white suit, Anderson was known to jokingly refer to Evan (during band member introductions) as “everyone’s favourite ice cream salesman”.
Evan departed Jethro Tull in July 1980. He then went on to form Tallis with fellow departing Tull member, David Palmer. After many years running his own construction company, during which he would occasionally be recognized by die-hard Tull fans, he now resides in Australia. He also appeared in the 2004 DVD, Jethro Tull – A New Day Yesterday: The 25th Anniversary Collection (1969–1994) (originally released in 1994 on VHS), the 2008 DVD, Jethro Tull – Their Fully Authorised Story (1968–2008), and the 2009 DVD/CD combo, Jethro Tull – Live at Madison Square Garden (1978).
John emigrated to Australia many years ago and now lives mostly in Melbourne where he sings in local choirs and still enjoys music although no longer as a piano player, having suffered hand damage as a result of long-distance bicycle touring and rallies. throughout the world in his middle years.