Ian Anderson at the Cascade
● By Phil Reser
Note WorthySeptember 2014
By Phil Reser
Known throughout the world of rock music as the flute and voice behind the legendary Jethro Tull band, Ian Anderson is celebrating his 46th year as an international recording and performing artist.
Anderson and Jethro Tull have released 30 studio and live albums, selling more than 60 million copies since the band first performed in February 1968 at London’s famous Marquee Club.
As leader of Jethro Tull, he has long resented the name given to the band.
“If you’d asked me 20 years ago did I regret anything about my musical career, my answer then, as it is today, has always been the name of the band,” Anderson says.
“Back then, in 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 18th 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. And I’ve had to live with it all of these years.”
He has lately called for an end to the legendary band, announcing that he intends, from here on out, to record and tour exclusively under his own name.
“There will be a Jethro Tull album released later this year or early next year, but it’s an album of music of classic Jethro Tull repertoire played by five people, but not five Jethro Tull members,” Anderson says. “It’s a string quartet and me. So there we have the way in which Jethro Tull continues to live to this day, but it is with existing material, which is being released under the Jethro Tull band. I think it’s safe to say that any new material that I write from here until my doomsday is probably going to be released under my own name.
“Jethro Tull is a body of work I rather think is now kind of historical, since the weight of it lies back in the ’70s and ’80s, in terms of volume. And I rather think it’s nice to kind of leave that as legacy.”
Anderson hasn’t played with the original members of Jethro Tull in many years, but his current touring band consists of long-time members of the group.
“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 that period of music in the history books of the future.”
He has recorded six diverse albums under his own name during his long career. His latest solo album, “Homo Erraticus,” is a concept album covering the musical history of Britain, featuring songs which examine key events from throughout British history in a musical suite style, divided into three sections: “Chronicles,” “Prophecies” and “Revelations.”
Anderson plans to play the new album in its entirety during this tour, with a second half that will include “a selection of the best of Jethro Tull’s sort of classic songs.” He’ll also be digging deep for three songs that Anderson says “are quite well-known pieces by Jethro Tull” that have been rarely played live but are going to be part of this year’s set.
“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,” Anderson says. “For us, it’s not about playing a song which could be 30 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.”
Now one of the old men of rock, Anderson plans to go on performing and recording,
“One year, 10 years, who knows?” he says. “As long as it remains a challenge and my health permits. Then there is my 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.”
Ian Anderson/Jethro Tull
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