Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull

by Carl Wiser

Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson isn't your typical Rock Star. He's never done drugs and has no use for the trappings of fame. So what does he have in common with the boys from Led Zeppelin? More than you might think.
Carl Wiser (Songfacts): Ian, I have four different statements about you that appeared in pretty notable publications. I was wondering if you could tell me if these are true or false. The first one is: you kept a urinal you used to clean as a souvenir.

Anderson: I wish I had. I don't have it anymore. It was one of the spare and probably cracked or slightly broken urinals that was in the store room of the Ritz Cinema in Luton in late 1967. My job was to clean the theatre, including the toilets, in the mornings, which took me half the day. And I thought, well, this old urinal is probably not going to get used, because it had a chip out of the side. So I managed to take it home.

And I did keep it for a while with some idea of turning into perhaps a drinking fountain. But along the way it got abandoned, and the nearest I came to reliving the urinal moment was when we used to have a urinal bolted to the side of John Evan's Hammond organ onstage, and at some point during the performance around 1972 he would pretend to relieve himself into said urinal to the amusement – and horror, indeed – of some of the audience. But it was, in fact, just playacting. Because he did in fact relieve himself into a beer can backstage, but hopefully no one was looking during the drum solo. So, yes, partly true.

Songfacts: Okay, next one. You refused to play Woodstock because you thought it wasn't a big deal.

Anderson: No, I knew it was going to be a big deal. The reason I didn't want to play Woodstock is because I asked our manager, Terry Ellis, "Well, who else is going to be there?" And he listed a large number of groups who were reputedly going to play, and that it was going to be a hippie festival, and I said, "Will there be lots of naked ladies? And will there be taking drugs and drinking lots of beer, and fooling around in the mud?" Because rain was forecast.

And he said, "Oh, yeah." So I said, "Right. I don't want to go."

Because I don't like hippies, and I'm usually rather put off by naked ladies unless the time is right. Well, indeed, unless the money's right.

Songfacts: Okay. Yet you toured with Led Zeppelin.

Anderson: We did, but happily, outside the orbit of their nightly shenanigans, although Jimmy Page used to show us Polaroids involving close-up blurred parts of young ladies' anatomy, often featuring soft fruit - that seemed to be in quite a lot of these photographs. Yeah, that's about it. We kind of heard the tales, but we were on the periphery of all that, didn't really experience it.

Songfacts: Was that the way it was for many of the bands that you toured with?

Anderson: That they stayed on the periphery? No. My impression was that the majority of bands were really enjoying and living up those moments when they were temporarily famous and about to have the good fortunes of young ladies' attentions thrust upon them on a nightly basis, which I could never have possibly kept up with the pressure to fulfill.

So, yeah, that's my impression, everybody was at it. I mean, out of all the bands, and all the people I've known, really, I'm probably the only person I know for sure never did what we popularly called "drugs" during all of that period. It was just something everybody did. And I didn't really enjoy being around people who were doing drugs, so I just took myself often to read a book somewhere, and waited for it all to kind of evaporate from the rock and roll lifestyle. But of course it hasn't.

These days people drop as often as they did back then, like flies, sadly, before their time. One or two get lucky and manage to control it or survive it, like Keith Richards, but he's one of the small number of people who seem to have emerged – not entirely unscathed – from the heady and demanding experiences of rock and roll.

Songfacts: I read where you said that Led Zeppelin "showed you the way." So you must have learned something from them.

Anderson: I think what they showed to all their peer group as musicians, was that there was, first of all, a very powerful and dramatic way to perform simple, direct rock music and also to introduce elements of more eclectic music. Because Zeppelin, near the beginning, there were a lot of elements of folk music, and Asian music, and African music that crept into their stuff. And if Zeppelin had carried on, I imagine we would have had at least one or two Led Zeppelin "unplugged" albums, and probably some rather more esoteric offerings along the way, where they did explore more thoroughly those more eclectic musical moments that they hinted at early on.

Jethro Tull and Led Zeppelin did share that same interest, even passion, for music that was not the normal stuff of rock and roll. And perhaps they, too, were influenced in some ways by what influenced me: Indian music, Mediterranean music, and British folk music. And we shared a chum, a fellow by the name of Roy Harper, who's one of the British folk musicians of the late '60s. And he was chummy with members of Pink Floyd and Zeppelin and with me. Not with the other members of Jethro Tull, who thought he was a bit weird and they didn't really like his music, I don't think. But he was someone who influenced me greatly right at the beginning, around '68 when I first came across him. And I think that rubbed off a little bit on Jimmy Page, too, as did some of the other British folkies, like Bert Jansch and Davey Graham, and I think that music must have infected the early Jimmy Page style with some of its innovative guitar work.

Songfacts: You've talked about how when you're on stage, you have a very heightened sensitivity. Does that happen when you're writing?

Anderson: Well, people don't really come up to me if I'm writing. They can see I'm busy. So it doesn't really happen. But if somebody jumps on a stage and I don't see them and I get grabbed by a stranger, my immediate reaction, whether understandably or otherwise, is to whack them, because I have to, in that split second, assume the worst: that that moment has come that most of us performers dread, when someone does actually come to do for you live in front of an audience. It is something that I guess a lot of us think about. It's definitely a potential reality.

There have been a few occasions when somebody has jumped on stage with that attempt. One very nearly successfully. And, you know, I wouldn't be alive today if it hadn't been for the vigilance and indeed the bravery of one of our road crew. But that aside, yes, it is different when you're on a stage, because you're kind of on the edge of what you can do, and anything that interrupts or interferes is very, very unwelcome. So that's probably the worst time, you know, I'm just kind of walking down the street in London, somebody taps me on the shoulder, I probably won't turn around and whack them. I'll probably just recoil in horror and try to retreat as fast as possible, lest they be carrying the swine flu.

Songfacts: Ian, I'm trying to find out how you write songs, and if you enter some kind of zone similar to your onstage performances.

Anderson: Not really. I think it's just applying yourself in a more concentrated way. But you're aware of your surroundings, whether it's a hotel room or a dressing room, or sitting somewhere in your house, in the same way as, just before calling you I was writing the last hour and editing the liner notes for our release on DVD of Jethro Tull: Live at Madison Square Garden in 1978.

So I have to try to recapture and recall a lot of the events and try and put them into some informational and amusing context for a few hundred words of text. And that's just the same kind of application, I think, whether you're a journalist or a novelist or a songwriter. You become quite focused and concentrated, but I think you're aware of your surroundings, and I think you're very much aware of the passing of time, too, to an extent that you know it's time to take a coffee break.

Songfacts: In the song "Aqualung," you do something very intriguing with the vocal effect. Can you talk about that?

Anderson: Well, I assume you're talking about what we refer to as telephone burbles, which is where you reproduce the sound of the telephone. You remove all the frequencies, except for a narrow band centering around about 1,000 hertz.

Songfacts: Yeah, what gave you the idea to do that?

Anderson: It epitomizes the limited frequencies of the telephone. It's also like when you're addressing a crowd through a megaphone. Or even perhaps the tinny sound of a voice trumpet, which is a non-active megaphone. It's a form of address. It's the sound that woke up young pilots in 1941 and sent them into the skies to battle the Hun. This is the sound of the Tannoy, the calling to arms of young men going up in their Hurricanes and Spitfires.

It's something that's very much part of the blood of an Englishman. I imagine on American Air Force bases they had something rather similar, except it wasn't manufactured by an English loudspeaker company called Tannoy. So you had probably another word for it. But it was the best part of something we know. We grew up in the age of these rather thin and reedy electronic ways of getting attention, whether it's the telephone or the wartime Tannoy. And I suppose that spills over into a vocal effect on a rock album circa 1971.

Songfacts: Why wasn't that song released as a single?

Anderson: Because it was too long, it was too episodic, it starts off with a loud guitar riff and then goes into rather more laid-back acoustic stuff.

Led Zeppelin at the time, you know, they didn't release any singles. It was album tracks. And radio sharply divided between AM radio, which played the 3-minute pop hits, and FM radio where they played what they called deep cuts. You would go into a album and play the obscure, the longer, the more convoluted songs in that period of more developmental rock music. But that day is not really with us anymore, whether it be classic rock stations that do play some of that music, but they are thin on the ground, and they too know that they've got to keep it short and sharp and cheerful, and provide the blue blanket of familiar-sounding music and get onto the next set of commercial breaks, because that's what pays the radio station costs of being on the air. So pragmatic rules apply.

Songfacts: The song "Bungle In the Jungle," did that come from the phrase "rumble in the jungle"?

Anderson: Well, that's a good point. It was actually late '72 or early '73 when I was in Paris recording an album that never got released, although one or two of the tracks made it out in 1974, but that was at a time when I was writing an album that was exploring people, the human condition, through analogies with the animal kingdom. And that particular song was perhaps the more obvious and the more catchy of the tunes.

Eventually it was finished and saved in time for the War Child album, sometime later. And indeed, since "Bungle in the Jungle" had been released in the year 1974 on the War Child album, "rumble in the jungle" may have been taken from that. Because that took place on the 30th of October in 1974. Maybe they were alluding to what was a well-played song, even on AM radio.

Songfacts: Okay, so your song came first.

Anderson: Well, it certainly did in terms of writing it. As to the actual time of release, I can't be 100 percent sure on that. But chances are it was somewhere prior to that.

Songfacts: Your song "We Used To Know" is certainly an influence on "Hotel California." Can you talk about that?

Anderson: It was a piece of music that we were playing around the time... I believe it was late '71, maybe early '72 when we were on tour and we had a support band who had been signed up for the tour, and subsequently, before the tour began, had a hit single. The song, I believe, called "Take It Easy." And they were indeed the Eagles.

We didn't interact with them very much because they were countrified, laid-back polite rock, and we were a bit wacky and English and doing weird stuff. And I don't think they liked us, and we didn't much like them. There was no communication, really, at all. Just a polite observance of each other's space when it came to sound checks and show time. But they probably heard us play the song, because that would have featured in the sets back then, and maybe it was just something they kind of picked up on subconsciously, and introduced that chord sequence into their famous song "Hotel California" sometime later.

But, you know, it's not plagiarism. It's just the same chord sequence. It's in a different time signature, different key, different context. And it's a very, very fine song that they wrote, so I can't feel anything other than a sense of happiness for their sake. And I feel flattered that they came across that chord sequence.

But it's difficult to find a chord sequence that hasn't been used, and hasn't been the focus of lots of pieces of music. Its harmonic progression is almost a mathematical certainty - you're gonna crop up with the same thing sooner or later if you sit strumming a few chords on a guitar. There's certainly no bitterness or any sense of plagiarism attached to my view on it, although I do sometimes allude, in a joking way, to accepting it as a kind of tribute. It's a bit like this tribute Rolex that I'm wearing.

Songfacts: You can get those in New York City.

Anderson: Well, a counterfeit, or a knockoff, I'm making the obvious joke. That's just getting a laugh on stage. Fair game.

Songfacts: One more statement for you: For an MTV segment, you sprung up from behind trees in Central Park to serenade picnickers with your flute.

Anderson: I can't actually recall doing that... this presumably was an MTV mini-documentary or something, was it?

Songfacts: No, this came from a radio station, promotional material.

Anderson: Okay. Well, I would have been put up to it by somebody – it's not the sort of thing I would instigate. Because I actually find it very embarrassing to perform in any way to an audience in the open air outside, and not in the context of a stage performance. I've had to do it once or twice that I can remember, and I do find it very, very uncomfortable.

When I say "have to do it," I've been requested usually by a TV company or somebody to do it in order to, I suppose, be counted off a little quirky and folky, and it's rather like being a busker. You know, you're out there doing this in a public space, and people are either recognizing it or are surprised, or think you are a member of a tribute band, or they don't recognize you at all. However the response, it's always as embarrassing to me as it is to them. So it's not something that I've tried to do very often.

Songfacts: Were you guys ever on MTV?

Anderson: Oh yeah, we were one of the very first bands to go into MTV in New York and perform. Yeah, we actually went in just to do an interview, but we took a couple of guitars in with us. When we were in there, we said, "Well, let's play something for you." And they said, "Oh, we're not geared up for that." And I said, "You know, let's strum a tune." And we played a couple of things.

They were wildly impressed, and said, "Wow, this is great." You know, "Wish all the other people who came in here would do that." And, "Listen, next time you guys are back in town, come in and play live for us again."

Well, of course, we never did, because they never asked us. And MTV shortly afterwards came out with that series MTV Unplugged. So I rather like to think we might have in some small way sparked a little possibility there to get bands who were known for rock music to come in and do an impromptu acoustic performance. And, which obviously was extremely popular and successful, and in particular for Eric Clapton.

Songfacts: Yeah, definitely.

Anderson: We were on MTV a lot during a specific period of time, around '86, '87, around the time of the Crest of a Knave album. We had a couple of tracks there that we did videos for, which were played quite a lot on MTV. Indeed, I think the one called "Steel Monkey" was in kind of heavy rotation for a while, since it was a pretty straight ahead, up-tempo funky rock song. Kind of a ZZ Top style, sort of fitted the mood of the day, really.

August 3, 2009. Get more Ian at the fabulous Jethro Tull official site.
More Songwriter Interviews

Comments: 50

  • Dan H from Albuquerque NmFirst saw Jethro Tull in 1973 on the Passion Play tour with Steeleye Span opening. The show lasted until 1 or 2 in the morning, and it's still the best live show I've seen. Tull's songwriting is great, and I think Martin Barre is one of the most underrated guitar players in rock music. With the recent celebration of the 1969 moon landing, I took out Benefit and played "For Michael Collins, Jeffrey and Me." I've always felt bad for Michael Collins. Can you imagine flying all the way to the moon and then just flying in circles around it? Great song.
  • Gianmaria Framarin from Ayr, Scotland, UkI have to tell you I never really fancied this man that much. Neither his band, too.
    I'm very much into the '70s, especially the second half of that decade, I'm fully dedicated to Genesis and then also other acts such as Supertramp or The Alan Parsons Project, anyone who can create very good melodies built with a wee bit of intricacy and a modern use of technology.
    I don't like Jethro Tull.
    I don't particularly like that mixture of progressive rock and folk, it bores me to death.
    I'm a Scotsman, I grew up surrounded by Scottish folk music, but the pipes sound more like a moog synthesizer than an 'Irish rebel song', and if there's one thing that can bore me to death, well, that's anything Irish (I'm sorry for the fellow Irishmen on here, it gets the better of me).
    Ian Anderson is also a Scot, but everytime I heard him speak he sounded like a fed up snobbish Englishman to my ears... he's from Edinburgh, the most 'English' town in Scotland, they also have a peculiar area where they speak with a posh 'southern English' accent called Morningside, I suppose that's where Anderson belongs to. It's not about him moving to Blackpool as a teenager, he doesn't sound like a northerner at all...
    This English attitude to accents and life in general is something I immediately rejected about Ian Anderson. A Scot who got rid of his native accent, how can I accept this?
    I'm British and proud to be, don't get me wrong, but 'English' is simply another thing.
    I don't like his ongoing stances about how much he despises 'the people'. He mustn't have been a working class lad. I don't particularly like Woodstock or long hair and flowing alcohol, as a Scot I do share this annoyance with 'people wasting their time', we're a pragmatic lot indeed, but Ian Anderson always finds a way to express his total distance from 'ordinary guys'.
    I don't know whether he's a Tory or not, I know he's spoken a lot against GWB (this is not being 'left wing', it's simply being honest, let's face it), but everytime he says something he means he sounds like an old-fashioned landlord who's constantly nostalgic of his past glories he may have lost during the course of time: landlords do not exist any longer indeed, well, he seems to long for getting back to those days.
    When I first heard 'Living in the Past' I instantly thought this man was simply out dated... >... I mean, it's so obvious he never rallied for the workers at Govan's shipbuilding docks in Glasgow!
    I do not wish people to express their political views through music at all, yet he seems to do that on a number of occasions.
    All he ever says is how much he wouldn't mingle with crowds... well, he's boring, no way, he's so boring.
    This being said by someone who's a Phil Collins admirer, now you would NOT call me a 'typical fashionable/cool Labour Party supporter', I'm no Noel Gallagher, you do know what I mean. But I'm a Scot, Scots are hard working men who are used to mingle with each other and identify themselves with 'the people'. We don't like southern landlords, we love it when Monty Python slam them down, we mostly love when Billy Connolly raises his two fingers to "the bloody Sassenachs"...
  • Ray Brettman from ChicagoI agree with your commentary Brian Short. Save for the part of him being particularly conservative politically. I have seen nothing to indicate that. I did see him say during the Presidency of Bush 2, a reference to him as "that madman in the White House." From what I have read he seems to be center/left with a deep concern for climate change.
  • Brian Short from Toronto, CanadaI think when Ian says he doesn't like Hippies, he means it for a few different reasons. I think he finds them frivolous; the free love aspect of it twitched him out; he was never really into drugs; he's conservative politically and thinks that Hippies are basically lazy and don't really want to work or contribute to society. I believe that Ian, whom I respect very much for his complete musical contributions, is really too much of an uptight, "English" snob, uncomfortable with most of the rest of the human race to be accepting of the open, free thinking society of the Hippies. This is all conjecture on my part - I don't really know - but it feels like this to me.
  • Stan from FloridaI think I read where Ian couldn't stand fans who were stoned out of their gourd at his concerts. I think he felt it dishonored the music he had worked so hard to create. George Harrison had a real revulsion to Woodstock, they all reminded him of alcoholics who couldn't control their drinking. Musicians had to be a VERY hardworking lot, nobody wants to pay good money to hear a really bad band who haven't practiced like they should have. When Ian or George or Ted Nugent say or imply that they hate hippies, I think they are talking about behavior, about being lazy and having no goals, which would be an insult to hard-working guys like themselves, long hair or not.
  • Doc Nagle from Hershey PaIf not too late to share my 2 cents. Tull is incomparable to any other artist regardless of time. Always evolving, reinventing in both a musical and lyrical sense. If you are a music fan it would be hard not to recognize the contribution and sheer honesty of Ian's lyric. I can't understand how the band hasn't been nominated for the RnR HoF? Makes no sense to me.......help. Having the pleasure of working with JT on one great day back in 2001 I can attest to the bands ability live. What a great thrill.....goose bumps still today 17 years later and much older. Still listen to all years of, in my opinion, one of the best bands of all time. Peace!
  • Jimbo from Dear Green PlaceI love Jethro Tull but Hotel California was written by Don Felder - who didn't join the Eagles until 1974!
  • Jack Boone from Miami, FloridaIan is beyond being a genius. He is a genius among geniuses, truly, literally. Genius is a word tossed around a lot, but rarely refers to a sky high IQ. Ian is a genius of the former and the latter kind. His mind can create exceptional music and lyrics, and he could build skyscrapers and rocket engines. I believe he is a lonely, tormented individual. He is so extraordinary with no one with whom he can relate and communicate, on his level, he's locked in golden chains of isolation. Without his music, he would go nuts. All the while, he hides his true self in his daily life, feels hurt and anger, because there is no one who can be his best friend.
  • Peter from New HampshireNobody has mentioned "This Was". I discovered it in a record store while in the Navy, in Seattle, 1969. Just looking at the cover I knew it had to be something special and it certainly was. I followed JT for years and still like This Was, Stand Up, and Benefit the best.
  • Jack Boone from Miami, FlIan is a nut. Pure loony tune and a mighty genius. I do wish at times that he'd let us get to know him a bit more. He's very careful not to open up about who he is on a deeper level. He's a very private person and yet at the same time he reveals such sensitivity in his music. I meant it when I said he is a genius, a real, true genius, the kind with an IQ off the charts. And he has enormous strength of character combined with tormenting loneliness he simply cannot shake.
  • Greg Melivn from San DiegoIan ur lyrics most inspiring as a 17 year old in La Mesa , Ca. and still today, had no idea conflict with success. Yet, am clearer today at 61 that same s--t happening today.
  • Joop Jansen from Apeldoorn, The NetherlandsAbout the connection "Hotel California" / "We Used To Know".

    Don't the Eagles sing: "We haven't had that spirit here since 1969 !!!!!?????

    And the Eagles didn't excist as a band in 1969.

    Jethro Tull's "We Used To Know" though IS from 1969 !!!!

    What a coincidence !!!

    Joop greets
  • Joop Jansen from Apeldoorn, The NetherlandsWhen I listen to Steve Hackett's "The Hermit" the same feeling grabs me.


    Joop greets
  • Tim Barrett- Krock 101.5 from OahuSir Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull...Great artists indeed! Great interview Carl!
  • Gerry Frost from Calgary AlbertaKeep on Ian ,I love your music ,it's timeless and always refreshing to hear it again
  • J.p. from VirginiaOne difference with "Hotel California" might be that the lyrics of "We Used to Know" are a bit easier to interpret. The song refers to the band's early struggles before making it big -- perhaps specifically to the time around the winter of '67-68 in London when Anderson and Glenn Cornick (bass) could only afford to share a tiny apartment and meager meals. IA is telling us that a key factor in his genius was that it was tempered in hardship and diversity. It also gave him the reputation for being one of the hardest working guys in the business. The last verse of the song might be wry advice to other musicians: "Best of luck with what you find / But for your own sake remember times / we used to know" ... or maybe it was a prophetic farewell to his mate Cornick, who left in 1971 and always claimed he was fired without any reason given.

    I find it odd they didn't get closer to the Eagles while on tour. IA and Don Henley are alike in many ways.
  • John from Delray Beach, FloridaIan has an innate motivation, the love of music, and a drive that keeps him going like the Energizer Bunny. He has lived an admirable life.
  • Dick from Washington, DcI love "Stand Up" and "Benefit" but nothing after. Saw them in Chicago in early 70's. Was drunk and don't remember much except Ian stopping a song in the middle and shouting to a sound man off stage, "Get your act together, man!" when feedback kept happening. He was pissed, and it seemed unprofessional to me, but as I said, I was drunk.
  • Arijit Syam from Calcutta IndiaJT is the ultimate mixture of British rock jazz and folk sounds.Incredible and mind blowing.
  • Bruce Hackett from Santa Monica, CaGreat interview! As to the "We Used to Know"/"Hotel California" thing, I'd not heard that before, but I doubt there's any direct connection, because whren the Eagles were the warm-up act for Tull, it was in the first year or two of the Eagles' existence (1972-73), and they were still a four-piece. Don Felder didn't join the band until 1974, and it was he who came up with the basic framework/chords for "Hotel California." So unless he was a Tull fan who enjoyed early tracks like "We Used to Know," I doubt there was any connection between the two. But it's an interesting thing to think about. And, as John Lennon once said, in reference to George Harrison being found guilty of "unintentional plagiarism" of the Chiffons hit "He's So Fine" when he Wrote "My Sweet Lord" -- "Well, you know, there are only so many notes." So true. Just look at any blues song -- it's all the same chords, same thing, just with different lyrics, or instruments, or tempo, or musicians...
  • Rob from Winnipeg CanadaI witnessed the original TAAB in Calgary with the Eagles spring of '72.My son is taking me to the most recent undertaking next month 41 years later. It was the best show I've ever seen, the opportunity to relive it with my son is awesome, can't wait!
  • Alexander from RussiaLoved JT all my life. Minstrel, Songs From The Wood, Heavy Horses are unbelievable! But Stormwatch is incomparable!
  • Willis from New ZealandHaving travelled a journey with Ian and Jethro throughout the years. I also find the 'hate hippies' comment tongue in cheek. First concert - 1969 in Norwich, Uk, when Ian had 'fussy' moments when he changed the list because something wasn't working correctly. Then again in the 80's in Sydney, Australia, when Ian had 'morphed' into an English gentleman with 'songs from the wood' (my favourite). Then in NZ, when JT appeared as guests of a local bikie gang and the band pounded out rock hit after rock hit. To me, Ian is a poet and it is through his wonderful lyrics that the magic happens. His flute is played with rock aggresion, and I have always found this the most sexy instrumental playing ever. Match this with facial expressions which echo the sounds and there you have it. Hooked ... for a lifetime!
  • Jack Ramsey from Pittsburgh Pa. R4 UsaI think the thing I like most about Tull is you have to think about each and every word in a song, Think is not a word used in rock to often. Ive seen them 63 or 64 times now and loved each show, cant wait for the next one.
  • Toni Rokka from Jozi, South AfricaIan Anderson is an unbelievably talented musician and songwriter. Why he has not been knighted for his massive contribution of brilliant work baffles me. Martin Barre is an exceptionally brilliant guitarist - incredibly versatile. Together they are a formidable team. Viva Jethro Tull Viva. Ps - To Michael from Montreal, dude get over yourself and get a life and a brain transplant. Long hair and headbands do not a hippy make. The magnificent Jethro Tull certainly don't need idiot fans like you. You are the kind of fool who cuts off his nose to spite his face. Ian is an artist (one of the greatest ever), a maverick genius who took on the persona of many characters during his long and illustrious career.
  • John from Birmingham Englandtop man is ian anderson,great showman too.jethro tull always full of suprises and new ideas.sorry but the eagles did pinch "we used to know"from jethro tull then done a new arangement and added their own lyrics to it,though hotel california is a great track in its own right.and as for hippes,they were full of crap!
  • Patricia from Riverside, , CaLove this band enough to have named my sons after members of the group. Saw them 5 times over the years, & was lucky enough to have 3rd row-center seats for one concert. The group It Bytes opened for them & believe me! They did. Bite, that is.....When Tull took over the stage.......it was magic once again. Thank you, Ian Anderson for sharing your musical genius with the world. To this day, if I had to choose only one group's music to listen to for the rest of my life......It would be Jethro Tull's music.
  • Doug from Se Michigan ,usaIan Anderson's band Jethro Tull was VERY popular here in the early-70s, and their songs werein heavy rotation on our local FM rock music stations. BUT "something" very strange happened around 1975 or so, it was like the band had dropped right off the face of the Earth. NO radio stations played any of their songs anymore, and no one ever talked about or mentioned the band AT ALL!! No one would be even dare to be caught "dead" wearing a t-shirt from one of their concerts, either. It was like dating the ugliest girl in your school if you let it be known that you still were a fan of Jethro Tull...hahaha!!
  • Federico from Piemonte - ItalyJT are one of my favorite bands and I think IA is a genius!
  • Cityboy Glenn from Phx,azIan is a proper Gent right oh???? He is a genius but I think a pervert. Aqualung,Thick as a Brick and of course the ever popular "Hunting for Girl". He reminds me of Orson Welles in that he says things of outlandish half truths to somehow inflate his image to our eyes and cause controversy. Hates hippies! Said the Pied Piper!
  • Fverde from VenezuelaExcelente banda, sin duda mi favorita, tengo 38 años de vida oyendo a esta banda y no me despego. Ahora dudo mucho acerca de varios de los puntos analizados en la entrevista. Sobre nunca drogas es poco probable que no haya pasado, quizas no fue adicto, pero hay muchas presentaciones viejas que lo deja en evidencia, y "we used to know" y "Hotel California" apenas se parecen.
  • Chuck from Vt, UsaI'm sorry to say I never saw JT perform live. IA is a very creative musician and one of the most literate rock lyricists. The early albums, "Benefit" and "Stand Up" definitely got my attention. However,
    "Aqualung" is my favorite on a purely visceral level while "Passion Play" could most likely be considered IA's masterpiece. "War Child" has some interesting moments but most importantly contains the jewel in the crown, "Skating Away." As for disliking hippies, I attribute that to IA's avoidance of drugs and those who use them. However, he did have the hair and style of clothing down pat, didn't he? . LOL!
  • Narki123Hmmmm , so Ian hates hippies? So his early persona was of a what?
  • Richard Robbins from Athens GaI have always loved ian anderson/jethro tull -I have seen them atleast 5 times over the last 39 yrs all in ATLANTA GA/ I think its funny that Ian Anderson said that he hated hippies - being an american and growing up in that time - I always related to the whole hippie thing - I still wear my hair long and wear a beard - but i am completely drug free - though not always - I can honestly say though that I became a musician because of JETHRO TULL - I ended up choosing the flute when I was about 12 yrs old and have been playing since - and at this point have made money doing it and have recorded my own projects doing my own music and yes jethro tull has been a big influence. all I can say about tull is that they have always been a great group of musicians - I have seen them play many styles - jazz, rock ,classical,folk,world music etc - Tull in my humble opinion are some of the greatest musicians around and they continue to be to this day - PEACE IAN
  • George from Ct, UsaIt's too bad IA has lost some of his vocal scale. he was the best during hus hey-days!
  • Michael from MontrealIan and the boys looked and played like hippies. This is what probably attracted so many to their music. For him to say that he hated hippies, a fashion statement he in fact was portraying in song and stage presence(see the long hair and headbands) is hypocritical to the max! This means he was exploiting all of his fans by playing the role but not living it or at least recognizing that he mislead us all . Very disappointing for a huge fan like myself!!
    I will not be seeing him live in his sober old fart years for this reason.
  • Zinaida Belanin from BrazilIan Anderson is AN exceptional being and most interesting artist ever seen...
    what a advanced mind and kind heart...
  • Eno from AustraliaMm when judging or trying to we shouldn't compare apples with oranges. I'm not sure the Eagles were ever really about energy, just great composition and precision arrangement. In typical soft rock style it wasn't about protest or dance. It was about a quality performance of quality music. If other bands did a 'better' job of combining some of the elements, then fine. Beatles, Led Z, Who, Stones, Queen - all great, all different. Viva la difference!
  • Phil from New ZealandI discovered Tull because Radio New ZealandNZBC BLEEPED the word "BALLS" on "Locomotive Breath". I then had to buy the album just to make sure of the words.
    I did have a sneak-preview though; a poetical flatmate was experimenting with "Thick as a Brick". That was the first album I ever bought ($7.50, 10% of my weekly wage then).
  • Scotty P from Captain Cook HawaiiAnd I've always wondered what I had in common with anyone with whom I shared a birthday? Ian Anderson, and gasp! Eddie Fisher. An appalling singer and cuckold and Mr. Anderson, the perfect rock n roll frontman from his day. Seeing this interview, I understand him even less than I thought. Never saw them live. And for the hate hippies thing? Holy s...... In the Stones Rock n Roll Circus, no one seemed freakier, not even John and Yoko. I looked like that for years, wild long hair and stranger, flowing beard, wilder in deep red. He's right about Woodstock. All those naked ladies interest me more now than the event. Rock festivals were awful. I've attended many, but also missed the disasters, Altamont, for one. Love Thick as a Brick, best concept album ever; Love Teacher and all of Benefit, the Stand Up album, too. Critics tore a Passion Play to shreds, but I thought it was the best thing released that year. Love that he has remained the sensitive intellectual gentlman he's always been. Wish him everything now and ahead, love, success and joy. He kept me sane during those crazy years.
  • Elesuu from LaPassion Play stands on its own as the greatest concept album ever........
  • Mitch from North CarolinaI think my favorite Tull piece would be "Skating Away," or possibly "Thick As A Brick." I have difficulty, if I can even do it at all, picking out a Tull song I don't like, much like I am with Zeppelin or CSN&Y. I saw them on tour in 1977 or 78 in Charlotte, NC. I was blown away! One of the best concerts I ever attended, perhaps second only to Hendrix. I think it's interesting Ian's loathing of Hippies. We idolized him! LOL!
  • Bond from Http://bigleathercouch.comSaw Tull at MSG during the Aqualung tour...


    Excellent interview
  • AnonymousI first got into Tull about 1972 when Thick as a brick was quite a big deal and after all these years I still have all the lyrics to that in memory. Love that album (yes...it was a record album) especially the lighter guitar and flute parts. No one else sounded like JT!
  • JackTull's 1st 6-7 albums were excellent partly due to the full band collaboration of the arrangement and dynamics. As Ian took more control as members flowed in and out the overall music-writing suffered. Yet they are by far one of THE BEST live bands I ever saw!
  • Leemy fav tull tunes are "bungle in the jungle" and "living in the past".
  • NeillOtto, I'd like to know what town you saw that in. They played West Palm Beach, Fla's "leaky teepee" that same year, but with Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band. I can't recall the date, but I was 16, and totally blown away! You know how theatrical Tull got for that show, Barrie Barlow and Martin Barre using a changing tent onstage to come out wearing each other's trousers, the diver walking out onstage to answer the phone and stop the band, who were thundering through an instrumental passage at that moment, n mid-note, and on and on. And even though I love Ian Anderson's music and vision, Don Van Vliet and his band almost stole the show that night from them. The Captain stalking about the stage bellerin' vocals out and glowering at the crowd from under thick eyebrows...I was about12 people deep from the stage, a good vantage point to judge things from, and Tull carried the day, but just barely. Somehow I don't think the Eagles even came close to pulling off the Magic Band's energy!
  • OttoThe first time I saw Tull (as a 17-yr old) was in 1972 on the Thick As A Brick Tour, with The Eagles as their opening act; a tour which he mentions in this interview. It's nice to see old Ian still out & about, and even nicer having his reminiscences to bring back some fond personal memories.
  • AnonymousI think Ian may have invented the internet, also.
  • TomGreat interview.
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