One of the most unconventional bands in popular music history, Jethro Tull blended folk, blues, hard rock, and surreal lyrics to form their one of a kind progressive rock sound. Tull had it’s roots in the British blues boom mixing in classical and jazz , with the British press dubbing them the “new Cream” in ’68. The early 70’s was the band’s full blown progressive rock days and the late 70’s saw them diving into acoustic folk, still earning the band sold out worldwide tours and millions of albums sold.
The force behind the band was Ian Anderson, known for his olde-english imagery and stage antics, including playing the flute and harmonica while hopping up and down on one leg. Anderson met future Tull members in school in Blackpool as a child, forming the John Evan Band in the mid ’60’s. Later they added guitarist Mick Abrahams and drummer Clive Bunker, and Anderson taught himself the flute. The band had trouble getting repeat bookings so they changed their name often. These were supplied by their booking agents’ staff, one a history enthusiast, eventually called them “Jethro Tull” after an 18th-century British agriculturist who who helped bring about the British Agricultural Revolution. The name stuck when because that was the first time a club asked them to return.
Tull released This Was in the fall of ’68 (1969 US), and the album was loved by critics, with the British magazine Melody Maker naming Tull the 2nd best band of the year behind The Beatles (The Rolling Stones were 3rd). Stand Up reached #20, and Martin Barre replaced Abrahams. Tull’s next LP was 1970’s Benefit (#11), which went gold in the U.S., and the group began selling out 20,000-seat arenas. Glen Cornick left and was replaced by Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond, a childhood buddy of Anderson’s who’d been mentioned in several Tull tunes. Next came Aqualung (#7), the band’s most successful U.S. album. The antichurch/pro-God concept album sold over 5 million copies and included rock staples “Cross-Eyed Mary,” “Hymn 43,” and “Locomotive Breath.” Bunker was then replaced by Barriemore Barlow, who debuted on Thick as a Brick (#1), another concept album consisting of a single track running over 43 minutes, split over two sides. 1973 also saw another #1 album, A Passion Play, although critics bashed the album.
1974’s War Child became Tull’s next gold LP (the Living in the Past compilation had also gone gold) which included the hit single “Bungle in the Jungle.” 1975’s acoustic based Minstrel in the Gallery (#7) also went gold. Hammond-Hammond then left, replaced by John Glascock. The band continued to explore folk on Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll in ’76(#14) and Songs From the Wood (#8) in ’77 which included “The Whistler”. Glascock died in 1979 after undergoing heart surgery, and his replacement was Dave Pegg. A revamped band including ex–Roxy Music Eddie Jobson and Mark Craney toured behind 1980’s “A” (#30). The following year’s Under Wraps, which continued to showcase the group’s new keyboard-dominated sound, only topped at #76.
In 1984, Anderson took a 3-year hiatus due to a throat problem. He reemerged with Crest of a Knave (#32) in 1987, earning the band a gold record and also the first-ever Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Grammy (controversially over Metallica, AC/DC, Jane’s Addiction and Iggy Pop). Tull hit the road again releasing Rock Island (#56) and returned to the blues on Catfish Rising (#88, but #1 in the UK). The band issued the worldbeat-infused Roots To Branches in ’95, followed by the similarly themed J-Tull.Dot.Com in ’99, the group’s 20th studio outing. 2003’s Jethro Tull Christmas Album was the groups most successful since Crest of a Knave. In 2012 Anderson released a sequel to Thick as a Brick (Thick as a Brick 2), followed in 2014 by another Thick as a Brick-related collection of new material, Homo Erraticus, his 6th solo outing. Anderson announced that for the foreseeable future, he would be issuing all his music under his own name. Anderson stated that Tull “kind of came more or less to an end during the last 10 years or so”, and stated his preference “in my twilight years, to use my own name for the most part being composer of virtually all Tull songs and music since 1968”.(Wikipedia).
With around 30 albums to their credit, the band’s catalog still sells in huge numbers and includes plenty of classic rock staples to this day. After 40 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 center of a group of sometimes changing but highly capable, excellent musicians.
CORE MEMBERS OVER THE YEARS
- Ian Anderson (vocals, flute, guitars, harmonica)
- Mick Abrahams (vocals, guitars)
- Martin Barre (guitars)
- Glen Cornick (bass)
- Jeffrey Hammond (bass)
- Dave Pegg (bass)
- Jonathan Noyce (bass)
- Clive Bunker (drums)
- Barriemore Barlow (drums)
- Doane Perry (drums)
- John Evan (keyboards)
- Andrew Giddings (keyboards)
NE OHIO CONCERTS
- Allen Theater-June 6th, 1970
- Baldwin-Wallace College-November 10th, 1970
- Public Hall-November 13th 1971, October 21st 1972, September 8th 1973, September 9th 1973, November 28th 1987, November 7th 1989
- Richfield Coliseum-February 21st 1975, August 3rd 1976, March 23rd 1977, October 27th 1978, October 26th 1979, October 15th & 16th 1980, October 16th 1984
- Blossom Music Center-September 11th 1982, June 13th 1988, September 9th 1999
- CSU Convocation Center-November 22nd, 1991
- Nautica Stage-September 3rd, 1996
- Cain Park-July 17th, 2001
- Rock Hall-July 18th, 2001
- Tower City Ampitheater-August 29th, 2003
- State Theatre-November 23rd, 2005
- “Thick As A Brick (Side 1)”
- “Locomotive Breath”
- “Songs From The Wood”
- “A New Day Yesterday”
- “Living In The Past”
- “Cross-Eyed Mary”
- “Sweet Dream”
- “Life’s A Long Song”
- “A Song For Jeffrey”
- “Bungle In The Jungle”