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17 January 1976
THE MAGIC FLUTE
A passion play in five acts by Barbara Charone
Ian Anderson, a musician
Terry Ellis, a financier
David Palmer, an arranger
Mr and Mrs Anderson: parents
Roy Harper, a guiding light
Mick Abrahams, Clive Bunker, Glenn Cornick, Martin Barre, John Evan, Barriemore Barlow, Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond, John Glascock: the boys in the band
The Early Years (Formative)
The setting is the Montreux Palace Hotel overlooking Lake Geneva, a monument to a bygone era. Luxurious velvets decorate the foyer. During the war spies met regularly to exchange secrets. During the cold off season, exiled musicians fill the elegant rooms.
Physically the story takes place in the red velvet lounge known as the bar. Mentally this drama goes around the world, covering a 28 year time span. The bar man lifts his arms off the counter and reaches for the Remy Martin. The man in black is his only customer, talking voraciously to a reporter during the three hour length of the play. Dunhill cigarettes and a half empty bottle of whiskey decorate a fine oak table.
Anderson (reflective): I got dressed in a kilt at the age of seven and sent to Sunday school. I'm Scottish and proud but the idea of wearing a kilt that's been handed down and comes to about here (gestures to mid calf and laughs) is somewhat embarrassing. I'd hide in trees till the kids came out of Sunday School, then down the tree and joined the people leaving.
(A slight pause.)
When I was a child my parents bought me a boat I wanted. Plastic motor, funnel, cabin, lifebelts, all the details were on the little boat. I proceeded to take apart the little boat, reducing it to the essence of the thing that floats. All that was left was a plastic hull that floated in the bath. Then I felt I really (sincere) had a boat.
I wasn't destructive, I always tried to reduce things to their functional value, to simplify them.
The process became harder while at school. Calculus was difficult to reduce to functional value. Anderson refused to learn it but managed to acquire 8 'O' levels. Cynicism for the authority begins to creep in.
Ironically we weren't allowed to do music or art. Had I been taught art as it existed at secondary school level it would have put me off forever.
My sole involvement with the musical world at the age of 13 was the likes of Adam Faith, Cliff Richard, Marty Wilde, early British pop stars. Adam Faith was the only one who didn't slavishly copy the American idiom.
The problem with school is you are taught how to arrive at trite results, it's just blechhhh (ugly expression, crude sounds) vomiting back at the teacher. My parents wanted to send me (horrified) to university, send me out to be a doctor, dentist, lawyer or teacher.
I'll probably make the same mistake as my father but trust that my son has enough grit and common sense to say FUCK YOU dad I'm gonna do what I want to do.
Now my parents say "well we did what we thought was right at the time" (much laughter). They're probably right. If they hadn't been officious and narrow-minded I might not have had the incentive or the desperate (said with great emphasis) desire to prove myself in a field completely outside their normality.
Strict parental upbringing and a lack of religious training gave him a particularly passionate distaste for the establishment, simultaneously instilling in him strong motivations to be successful. A kindly grandmother encouraged the childhood Anderson to pursue creative aims.
I remember proclaiming to my grandmother at the age of nine that I wanted to be an actor. She was the only one to encourage it. I suppose the idea of not wanting to grow up made me want to be an actor (switches to present position maintaining childhood topic).
Even contemporary musicians fulfil an image of their own choice and take it to its conclusion. Like Mick Jagger, or Pete Townshend, even Ian Anderson. Create an image and never grow old (wistful). All pop people have their own private fantasies but we're not actors. It's a disciplined masquerade (picks up large black notebook and begins to urgently fly past the pages).
Neither disturbed or embarrassed by the barman or the reporter, the man in black begins to read a song lyric aloud, relishing in this performance, acting with great gusto and zest, reading with diction common only to the Royal Shakespeare Company. The song had been written earlier in the morning, the ink long dried on the pages comes alive with underlying lyrical and tonal cynicism.
The song is entitled 'Quiz Kid' and pulls Anderson into a world of his own with each verse. It is as if he is onstage, reading lines from a book he carries everywhere.
(Leafs through inspiration book). Here's pages of days where there was nothing (throws back his head in a cocky laugh). I slung this one out (turns the page). That one Frankie Howard is listening to (turns the page). That one's a real classic. Slung that one out (pages pass in the night).
That one we got as far as the backing track before we realised that we weren't black (throws his head back in amusement, turns the page).
This one Jethro Tull can't play. It belongs in a different world. I can sing it but we can't.
(A long pause prompting the reporter to wonder if this situation is not at all frustrating or artistically limiting.)
Yes (slight pause) it is frustrating but I have to work within the group framework because I don't think Jethro Tull as it is now has ever fulfilled what it can do (bangs the table twice). Till it's a dinosaur that's likely to become extinct 1 don't want to stop working in the Jethro Tull framework. To a lot of people I am Jethro Tull.
(Long time friend and group arranger David Palmer would later say "If the group broke up today Ian could find unknown musicians and have them sounding like Jethro Tull in one month.")
I may wake up tomorrow and think this (points to Quiz Kid lyrics) is rubbish. But tomorrow I'll write another song cause if I don't I'm not me. But I must reserve the right to dismiss it by tonight (laughs) to continue the rhyme (more laughter, lights fade as the performance stops and Anderson returns to Peter Pan never-grow-old posture).
It's important to remember what it's like to be a kid (lights Dunhill cigarette although one is still burning in ashtray). Most of what you draw on for words, and music is a bubbly effervescent sort of thing.
It's ironic that people who fulfil childish fantasies like rock stars or actors often make the worst possible parents because they lack discipline, lack the control that makes kids rebel against what they don't want to be. Perhaps we're too understanding.
(A long pause, then an adolescent social tale quickly follows the pause.)
I've never danced or been to some disco, never gyrated or bopped about with some girl (underlying cynical attitude).
At 15 I was something of a hero with my friends cause I'd go up to girls at youth club dances who were dancing on the floor and say ,"Would you like to come sit down." It worked (elation).
All you guys out there thinking of writing to personal columns (comically), "groovy guy seeks groovy girl", try this. Guaranteed (proud).
When Anderson finished school and grew bored sitting young ladies down at youth club social dances, he became obsessed with a desire to become a POLICEMAN. Hardened rebel postures temporarily faded with an unsuccessful attempt to join up.
I really wanted to be (much emphasis) James Bond. Like today a lot of people really want to be Eric Clapton or be Mick Jagger, wear their undies (slight chuckle).
I really wanted to be James Bond (desperation, sincerity). There were two ways of doing it: either being an actor or a real policeman: working up to CID, Special Branch, finally maybe a secret agent.
I tried to enroll as a police cadet at 16 but they were suspicious of my motives (amused) and quite rightly cause I wouldn't have been a very good James Bond either for real or pretending.
The one thing I've learnt over the years is that I'm not an actor. If anyone tells me what to say I have an obligation (sinister delight) not to say it. (One of the two lit Dunhills smoulders in the ashtray. Lights fade. Barman appears.)
Prior to his rejection by the Blackpool police force, the man in black made his first stage debut at a youth club rehearsal. John Evan on drums, Anderson on guitar, and Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond on bass. An auspicious beginning.
The music developed beyond that after I ran away from school and got rejected from the police force (lights fade out . . .).
The Lean Years (Educational)
Before Jethro Tull there was the John Evan Band, so named because his mother had paid for the group van and if Mrs Evan could not reap financial reward she certainly deserved national or even local recognition for her son, John. Mrs Evan had also paid for the Hammond organ which made her extremely popular within the group circle.
This Blackpool school group consisted of Evan, Hammond-Hammond, Barriemore Barlow (briefly), Anderson, and others. Playing mostly soul music which was the present ('66-'67) craze, the band played everything from James Brown, Sam & Dave, to Georgie Fame and Howlin' Wolf in their own 'jazzier r&b way'.
We were not the worst group in the country but probably close. The only way to make a living then was playing soul music but (laughs) we did not make a living.
Our parents supported us unwillingly during that period, as I would mine, if my children went out and said "we want to play 'Hold On I'm Comin'" for a living. I'd say sod you mate, do it at your own expense.
Marked for greater things and spurned on by an inbuilt desire to 'make it', Anderson and his mates left Blackpool in the coldest winter since anyone can remember when. It was cold that November of '67 when third generation blues was the popular mode. Peter Green, Anysley Dunbar, Rory Gallagher, Savoy Brown and Chicken Shack were all thriving.
Hammond-Hammond left after that first, cold week in London, replaced by Glenn Cornick. Evan and Barlow quickly followed Hammond-Hammond back to Blackpool leaving Anderson temporarily deserted but determined.
Off we went in the van which blew up upon arriving in Luton. It was driven back haltingly and sold straight away upon its return. I don't know if Mrs Evan ever got her money back. (Lights Dunhill, reporter wonders why Anderson didn't run back to the family.)
I was the only one who stayed (slight pause). Why? Because I was scared to go home, to go back to mom and dad and say after one week I couldn't do it. They would have said I told you so.
Back in that cold December of '67 Anderson was more stubborn than ever, possessed by some strange demonic force which hypnotically held him in a perpetual state of positive superiority. Despite stubborn pride, he accepted a present from his father before departing for the London metropolis. Here follows the story of the Tatty Old Coat.
That wasn't a gimmick (slightly defensive), that was for real. The tatty old coat was the only thing my father gave me when I left, a shabby overcoat. He said (stern fatherly tone) "You'll need this."
Our first gig was December '67 and we were nobody and the clubs we played had about 10 people in and they couldn't afford heating. The dressing rooms had no heating, horrible little rooms (makes a face). We sat in a van with no heater all the way home and you got into bed with no heating on.
I mean (emotional) I slept in that coat for three months that winter (audience emotes sympathetic vibe). The best thing my old man ever gave me was the coat.
It wasn't a gimmick. I wore it onstage but I wore it all the time. Day and night. (Narrative interlude or what fate did to the tatty old coat — stole it in Chicago in '69 when Jethro Tull were supporting Led Zeppelin).
(Audience emote sympathetic vibe. Creative Anderson lights Dunhill.)
Some day my kid's gonna walk out the door and I'll want to give him that coat. He'll want to be a doctor and I'll say "No son of mine will be a doctor, sign the contract right here and play guitar."
Or he'll say: "I'm going to university." And I'll say: "If you do it's the last time you'll ever set foot in this house again."
Having learned the story of the fabled tatty old coat it is only in keeping with the journalistic narrative voice of this production to relay to our audience the story of the tatty old flute.
When I left Blackpool I owned an electric guitar. I swopped the guitar for a microphone and a flute because you put them both in your pocket.
When I went to London I expected to live rough and indeed I did (realism). The only thing I'd heard on flute was a Roland Kirk record that Jeffrey had and the only thing that stuck in my mind was 'Serenade To A Cuckoo." (Hums the little tune.)
The Roland Kirk thing of singin' and playin' at the same time was admirably suited to my lack of style. I couldn't blow a clean note (grin). I'd blow a breathy sort of (strange noise) UGGHHHH. I played the song on our first album as an introduction to the flute.
If it hadn't been for Kirk I would have never played it. Maybe I would have kept the guitar and listened to Eric Clapton and that would have changed things.
Back in that cold December of '67 electric guitars and twelve bar blues were the rage. A tatty old coat and a Roland Kirk flute were not. Hence the arrival of lead guitarist Mick Abrahams. Clive Bunker came along for the fun too.
We did some soul type gigs. Chris Wright, our Manchester agent, moved to London about the time we did and formed partners with Terry Ellis. We were the John Evan Band on our first few dates without John Evan (giggle).
We were supposed to be an eight piece soul band and we were a four piece blues group.
Bunker, Anderson. Abrahams, Cornick.
For a couple of months we had a new name every night because we were so (stressed) bad the only way to get rebooked was to change the name. Our agent would ring up and say, "We've got a great new group ..."
Unknowingly the club owner would be booking some group he'd had the week before and threatened "I'll never book them again." (Irony.) We'd wear different clothes but everyone looked the same then anyways. All long hair and beards (Anderson fashion). We were playing derivative blues and I was only slightly animated.
Never having gyrated at youth club dances but preferring an intimate sit, Anderson was not accustomed to gyrating and bopping at all, lest in front of a captive audience.
I've never done it to anybody else's music. Only happened when I started to write myself, '67-'68. Then I found it required to physically react (urgency). It is fun and I always look forward to it but it is easy to be physically demonstrative onstage, to get it across to some waif in the third row who looks like they just hitched in from San Francisco.
What with Peter Green and Savoy Brown VS, a tatty old coat, tatty old flute and a leader who had never before gyrated and bopped, Jethro Tull were on the brink of conception.
We arrived at some point where we got a return booking and settled on a name. (Anderson makes a public plea and switches to present posture.) The book, Jethro Tull's book, was 'Horse Howing and Husbandry,' a lengthy treatise on then improved farming methods.
Terry Ellis has a copy of that book but he won't part with it. If anyone ever sees a copy I'll pay double. (Slight pause.) I'm not into the land or growing vegetables but ... (End of public plea.)
Ten Year's After were playing around then and they were the great white hope of Ellis and Wright. They were doing pretty well and without them we wouldn't have gained access to club circuits and later America.
Thru TYA we got a residency at the Marquee. Ellis would ring up and say: ... "We've got a new group that's almost as good as Ten Year's After! Give them a try." (hard sell).
The winters were cold and the months lean but Anderson felt the excitement of success up and down his tatty old coat and tatty old flute. Despite signs of successful encouragement, he assumed any kind of success would be strictly flash in the pan and very brief.
It always seemed good while it lasted but would only last probably one year. Maybe two. Christ (sigh) all I ever wanted, even now, is to be able to pay for this drink (gestures to drink on fine oak table next to Dunhill package).
All I could wish for is to make a living as a musician. My awareness of pop music led me to believe one had a year or two of success then you were finished. That's how I felt up until Thick As A Brick.
I feel absolutely confident (bravado) now about being successful in selling records and concerts.
I know when I (stress) go onstage there's maybe two or three people who can blow me (heavier stress) offstage but 750 (heaviest stress) who I (heavy) can blow offstage cause I know what I've got is bigger and more real.
Call it talent or just energy (climax of monologue) but it's real, here, now.
Winter turned to spring and then summer and Ellis and Wright got bigger and bigger as Ten Years After got more and more popular and Jethro Tull became more and more sensational.
There was a move at that time on behalf of our management to dissuade me from playing flute. It was not on to be a flute player (amused) in a blues group at that time. They wanted me to go stand at the back and play rhythm piano (absurdly). They didn't want me to sing. They wanted Mick to sing. You know a sorta second Alvin Lee (good God) but I fought against that (thank God) cause I really didn't want to give up what I thought for me was good.
I struggled on till clearly (authoritative) some of the acceptance of the group was me playing flute and wearing the old overcoat.
In the great British tradition of everyone-is-equal, you and me mate, Anderson and Mick were in the thick of it. Jethro Tull was their band and they wrote songs together and were very close musically.
Discrepancies in their individual constitutions began to arise. Mick only wanted to play four nights a week maximum and refused to travel on planes. They persevered like there was no tomorrow, wanting to play as often as possible anywhere, anytime. Before Mick left the band, they recorded an album, This Was.
The whole thing about This Was is how Ellis/Wright did the right thing, no pun intended (word conscious). They didn't fob us off to some record company, they (impressed) put up the money with some overdraft.
Terry borrowed money from his father's bank manager, just over £1,000 to make the first album. Did it in six days with a four track studio. No producer, no record company, just the group, engineer, Terry and I.
The songs were all things we'd been playing in the clubs. 'Serenade To A Cuckoo' and 'Cat's Squirrel' were the only things we hadn't written.
The one thing you've got to credit me for if nothing else is the foresight to know that it was a first album hence the title This Was Jethro Tull. Anyways, it was different from Savoy Brown and John Mayall.
Eventually Ellis secured a deal with Island Record who released the first three albums and eventually Ellis grew rich enough to invest in his own company. Chrysalis (Ellis/Wright) was formed.
All the record royalties we hadn't got paid were sitting with Ellis and Wright so we thought, start a record company, pay us back later. In fact the drink (points to Remy Martin) you think you're paying for, that Chrysalis think they're paying for, I actually paid for five years ago (laughs, fade out).
After recording the first album Mick Abrahams left the band. Jethro Tull had just gotten a Marquee residency and looked around quickly for another guitarist. In the meantime they taped the infamous relic, The Rolling Stones Rock 'n' Roll Circus with Sabbath's Tony Iommi on guitar.
First off we tried David O'List who had just left the Nice who were one of my favourite groups at the time. But David was having his own problems. (Slight pause.)
Martin Barre came along to an audition and didn't do terribly well. We dismissed him as a possibility but he later rang me up at my Kentish Town bedsit and said ... "Hellow, Martin Barre here. Wonder (nervous breathing) if I could come round (more nervous breathing) ... come round for another try (final nervous breath)."
I said alright. I don't know why. He was definitely no good. But he came round my cold water, five shillings flat and we sat there round a one bar electric fire with fungus grown coffee cups (slight amused pause). And he thought we were on the brink of great success and didn't understand why I was living so crudely.
Martin had a guitar with a tiny amp that wouldn't work (definitely amused pause). All he could make was a slight sound. I couldn't hear a bloody note. All I could hear was this terribly nervous breathing. Ahhhh Ahhhh Ahhhh (noise like Roland Kirk).
I watched his fingers carefully though. He had nice fingers. So I thought if I could get him an amplifier louder than his heavy nervous breathing ...
Martin Barre joined Jethro Tull on the eve of their first US tour. Despite the fact that they had not yet recorded Stand Up, all the material was new and intended for that album. The tour was a disaster. Warm-up British gigs proved a fiasco until the fifth one at Manchester University when Jethro Tull were supporting the Bee Gees that cold December of '68. Manchester were the first of many new converts.
We did a thirteen week US tour. 3 or 4 gigs a week and the other nights we'd sit in rat hole hotels the likes of which even Frank Zappa hasn't seen or written about.
Our first gig was the Fillmore East, the world gig and our equipment had gone to Boston (scratches beard in recollection). Our rented equipment blew up onstage so we borrowed some from Blood, Sweat and Tears.
It was a disaster but we went down well in Boston. I remember sitting in my hotel then writing 'Living In The Past'. We recorded that in New York before the end of the tour. I also wrote 'Bouree' then.
I had a memory of Julian Bream playing it on a record that belonged to the bloke who lived downstairs in Kentish Town. I thought it would make a good flute song to supercede 'Serenade To A Cuckoo'.
Upon returning to London, Anderson met an arranger named David Palmer who had previously worked with Max Bygraves, ('boring') left the Royal Academy in 1966, ghost-wrote film scores but never got credit, and met Anderson in '68. Since then Palmer has been present at all Tull recordings and arranges every orchestral or string track on any Jethro Tull album. Anderson looks to Palmer for friendship, encouragement, and inspiration.
Palmer: The first song I heard him do was 'Christmas Song', just the mandolin, and I thought "Christ we're into the same thing — English Tudor music." All of Ian's music is very English, like the Beatles.
I had known Terry Ellis and seen TYA. They were the parallel band, Chris Wright's band. I was given 'Stonehenge' to hear which I thought complete rubbish. I argued for two or three years with them about the artistic merits of TYA. I saw Ian though and thought that's alright.
I remember we did a Top of the Pops for 'Sweet Dreams' and my parents watched. My father said, "I don't know about this Jethro Tull, looks like our local down 'n' out." That's the parents' reaction.
(Anderson himself later spoke about Palmer fondly when delivering a monologue about the permanent excitement of it all: "I'd rather be here now recording than anywhere," [points to Resident's red velvet bar]. "You ask David Palmer. He's 37 and he's having good fun just hanging out with me and the lads. Good fun.")
Anderson: Serious? No, then it was all a joke. Now it's so bloody serious (lights Dunhill, sips Whiskey).
I can remember some magazine called Jackie for girls who hadn't had their periods yet (giggle). One week Peter Green was the pin-up of the week, all pimples, beard and dirty (slight pause). And the next week I was the pin-up. Me who was all pimples, beard and dirty. That was hilarious. A joke.
Peter Green would be on Top of the Pops, then us, then Eric Clapton. It was a joke. Clapton playing rhythm guitar while some beautiful solo was going on. All a joke to us. All a joke (fade out, lights dim. Only lit Dunhill is visible.)
(Fade in, brighter lights, uptempo background music, lots of cymbals). I'm going to be on Top of the Pops this year. You'll see me on it (promised). No joke. I'll bring back something that's been missing. You will know that I'm glad to be there but come on what is this! What is happening? (absurdly). The Gary Glitters and the Alvin Stardust's. I keep calling him Shane Fenton. I was 11 when I tried to pick out 'I'm A Moody Guy' on guitar.
(Brighter lights, full beam, real swing tune.) When I go onstage and some little girl gets hold of my tight clad thigh for a feel, I'm thinking C'mon! It's like she's on another planet.
People don't take that seriously with me. Not even Elton John, he's a little fat ... well he's been slimming but nobody can be serious about it. A joke (lights dim, fade out).
The Competitive Years (Rewarding)
Success following eagerly on their heels, Jethro Tull recorded their second album, Stand Up, which cemented both their success in England and the budding Palmer/Anderson, Muse/Older But Wiser Muse relationship.
Anderson: Stand Up was a good record looking back on it, it was alright. All original but a bit naive. Still it was cogent. Quite inventive at the time. Me on my own without Terry. Just Andy Johns and Palmer.
David Palmer: 'Reasons For Waiting' was like a little test piece. All the styles meshed. Before I'd only been exposed to world-beating professor types. That on it's own is not good but being given that song ... it's like Ian seeing red and me saying blue. Two definitions is a productive relationship.
Anderson had begun to play electric guitar on records by this time; first with Stand Up and later with Benefit and Aqualung. He confesses to playing lead guitar on 'Locomotive Breath' and has recently returned to these electric passions, buying both a Stratocaster and a Fendercaster, both in black.
Ya see, Stand Up (lights Dunhill) was a number one album in England only because all the musical papers were on strike the week before so there were no charts printed. Where it said last week's placing, it said dash. This week's placing — one. It came in at number one! Big stars! And (slight pause) because of that it was hard to do Benefit. Hard to follow a number one record.
That second year in the US was hard, having to live up to some image that had been put across. I didn't want to be a pop star. It was nice before but now it was getting to be a real responsibility. You're expected to fulfil that function for which you've become known. People expect you to go on stage and be crazy. When you realise it's expected of you, it becomes difficult.
Anderson attained much recognition for his leaping about and acting crackers on stage. His songs were even better. By Benefit he had begun to merge acoustic and electric sounds together, a style perfected on Aqualung.
John Evan played keyboards on Benefit and later rejoined the group, partially because he lived next door to Anderson and partially because it was his mother's van. Glenn Cornick quit and another old Blackpool mate, Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond rejoined. The van did not break down in Luton this time.
Aqualung came about when we were just starting to be received in America. It was our first BIG album worldwide but it was a sad and duff album (audience emote total bewilderment).
It had some good songs, I really do think 'Wondering Aloud' is a really good song but I could do them so much better now (artistic frustration). Now I KNOW what I was singing about, then I didn't. I just wrote some words, a little tune (hums).
It was an unhappy album. Strange recording studio. First year of the power cuts. Glenn had just left. Jeffrey had just joined, Clive was unhappy. Black clouds over everything.
But the success of Benefit had encouraged that rejection of pop songs. All the records up till then had just been what I should write a song about. Since then it's only songs I've fucking got to sing. From Aqualung forward I felt good about going into the studio. Till then I felt nervous.
Aqualung moved further because of the lyrics born of a desire to say something I had to say. True, I said it naively and we performed them in a somewhat naive, crude fashion but I wasn't afraid to say something. Up till then I'd written songs about very inoffensive, ambiguous subject matter.
By this particular point of time it was no longer that cold, cold winter of '67. The tatty old coat had been stolen, Jethro Tull were becoming a Supergroup in America, the overcoats were new but maintained a certain degree of seediness while the one legged man and his tatty old flute became something of an enigma.
Chicken Shack, Peter Green, and Aynsley Dunbar faded away. Now it was very much on to play flute in a blues (?) group. No longer the winter of discontent, Aqualung pointed to those that knew that Anderson had always been influenced by Roy Harper, a cult hero in Britain and an unknown in America.
We're from the same town. Not even Blackpool but St Anne's-on-Sea. I'd heard about Roy Harper before I even knew him. He was a guy that had gone down to London two years before us. Those songs I wrote on my own (defensive) before the blues were before I heard him.
I stay well clear of Harper. He's crackers, a lunatic. Roy's biggest failing is that he's influenced by rock 'n' roll groups.
Without a doubt, Roy is the best (emotional) acoustic guitarist and creased notebook with dirty pages. But when he gets friendly with guys in rock groups like Jimmy Page, Keith Emerson and Keith Moon, it does him harm. It would do me harm too, to get involved with him because I'd end up getting involved in the same thing.
(Softly) There is part of what I do that is very much in the same vein. Part of what he does is in the same hard rock vein. But the two should really stay apart (yet the muse fuses them together).
He called me once at 2 am, round the corner at EMI making a record, wanted me to come play flute. 2 am! He said: "I just want some of that flute playing that you do. I want one of those freaky Jethro Tull things."
I said: "But it's not one of those songs." He said: "I want that, how do you do it, ppphhhhh (strange Roland Kirk noises)."
We reached a compromise, a little of both. Seven am and me and Roy doing a ridiculous coda. 'Home', the only recorded track on an otherwise live album. It should have been a hit.
It's not on for Roy to be in a rock 'n' roll group. He's the kind of guy who bums around one night here, one night there, drink here, writes a song in the taxi on the way to the recording studio. He doesn't belong in our world. I don't belong in his. Ironically there is a musical similarity (sombre passions).
He's probably chuffed if someone says he sounds a bit like Led Zeppelin 'cause that's what he wants to do. Get up with white trousers, do a big number and have little girls try to get hold of him (entertained). It's not what he's about.
I'm not about to go on stage and do that 'cause although part of me is like that, it's not the whole point of me musically. It's more than that (slow fade out).
And Man formed Aqualung of the dust of the ground and a host of others likened unto his kind. And these lesser men Man did cast into the void. And some were burned; and some were put apart from their kind. And Man became the God that he had created and with his miracles did rule all the earth. But as all these things did come to pass, the Spirit that did cause man to create God lived on within all men: even within Aqualung.
That dirty old man posture is not me. It's just something I have sympathy for. The attraction to the strangely independent, derelict reject. Although these people appear horrific within the society structure they are incredibly independent and free.
(Lights dim, lights Dunhill) Maybe I'll end up that way (pause). I think about it. Maybe I'll end up like a derelict, like so many do, finally rejected by their public and end up looking for dog ends in the gutter.
Music softly floats through the hall, a solitary acoustic guitar and gentle voice, "Wondering aloud will the years treat us well." (Lights fade out.)
And so it came to pass that Jethro Tull toured the world high and low and Aqualung went gold as did Benefit, Stand Up, and This Was. Clive Bunker quit and Barriemore Barlow of Blackpool fame joined. And then there was Thick As A Brick.
All of that was to avoid being like Yes (audience express confusion). We were doing a very arranged and detailed sort of thing compared to Yes at that time. With Thick As A Brick we didn't want to be taken seriously. Music's first function is celebration and I don't want to be taken too seriously.
If I write a song in the morning I don't want to be taken too seriously 'cause meanwhile I'm sitting there in me underpants and yesterdays shirt and I haven't had a bath yet. That's funny, not serious. I'm no prima-donna composer.
With Thick As A Brick and Passion Play people thought there might be some case for artistic pretention. I'm very afraid of people sitting there and looking at it as art. I always tried to make sure people don't take it too seriously by punctuating it with nonsensical interludes.
We're somewhere between an electric Roy Harper and Bruce Forsythe (lights flash then quickly fade).
The Hard Years (It's Lonely At The Top)
And so it came to pass that the man who created Aqualung and Thick As A Brick in its wake stumbled across Passion Play which was generally received, far and wide, as a bad dream but was greatly appreciated by the people in the third row who looked like they'd just hitched in from San Francisco.
At the time Think As A Brick was a nice record but not great. Passion Play was better music (audience emotes confusion) but it was so intense between the members of the group that it was ultimately an exercise that should not be repeated.
It's better for me to exercise a little objective control. Ultimately I'm better at that. They'd rather play what they can well, rather than change the course of history.
It's very intense when five guys lock themselves in a room half this size (gestures to Resident's red velvet lounge) and say "What are we going to do for the next two weeks?" Intense hermit like seclusion. Not good.
(Lights Dunhill, orders coffee) I always thought it was amazing that everybody built Passion Play into some great big, bloody deal (passionately). Couldn't understand why people said "Oh dear, poor old Ian, he's had a bit of a hammering, didn't go down well." Maybe it was 50 per cent bad reactions instead of 25 per cent. I can't understand why it remains a cloud.
Thick As A Brick had certain musical shortcomings to me, claustrophobic. For me, Passion Play was an attempt to continue where 'Thick' left off, only more potently. To me it succeeded.
It's the only album I can listen to all the way through (audience emotes weird noises) on the edge of my seat. It's not our best album but it's, better at its best. It still grabs me.
David Palmer: If you've got the kind of gift Ian's got you can't sit on your laurels writing 'Aqualungs' all your life. You can't keep churning out 'Living In The Past'. Thick As A Brick was far more cogent than Passion Play, more convincing. There were certain pitfalls that Ian fell into inherent in working with that structure.
Anderson fell victim to much abuse. Fans, critics, and strangers screamed 'Concept' very loud indeed. True enough it was not Tales of Topographic Oceans but it was not Thick As A Brick either.
Somewhere between an electric Roy Harper and Bruce Forsythe.
I've never understood what they mean by concept. The only concept album I've put my finger on was 'Tommy'. 'Sgt Pepper' is just a bunch of songs to me.
Thick As A Brick and Passion Play were conceptual only as much as they were continuous, dealing with a variety of emotions. I would hate to have to ever come up with an album like 'Tommy' 'cause that would be impossible to repeat (lights Dunhill. sips coffee).
The Happily Ever After Years
Shortly thereafter an announcement arrived in the post from manager Terry Ellis proclaiming the retirement of Jethro Tull. Everyone said "I told you so" and assumed the band had run away from bad reviews to some quieter sanctuary.
In later years it was discovered, as originally suspected that the RETIREMENT SAGA shortly following THE PASSION PLAY SAGA was not the band's doing but the financier ... (audience hiss).
That wasn't us. It was Ellis. It was stupid of me to let it happen. To let Terry announce that. He'd told me since we weren't going to tour for six months he would say Jethro Tull were stopping work for the immediate future.
As soon as the headlines arrived, JETHRO QUIT, I knew it was a bad mistake. What can you do then? (audience emote sympathy). Say well, very charming, we haven't actually quit (winsome charisma) we're just not doing gigs for the moment.
Sure it looked like we were doing a moody. It was my fault and Terry's fault for not understanding how it would look. If Jethro Tull quit I wouldn't do that. I'd merely disappear.. . (lights fade).
David Palmer: Ian seemed to behave in a way that a lot of critics hoped he would. Perhaps it was foolish. The most salient point now is that Ian has that much more experience. I don't think anyone expects unqualified success. It's just the tip of the iceberg now.
Hardship and setbacks hit our band from Blackpool or Baker St depending on the location. Much time and money was invested into the soundtrack film of 'Warchild'. Economic times being tight, no one was willing to fork out the dough. The movie was never made, the orchestral soundtrack that the muse and his older but wiser friend has slaved over, never used.
Still they persevered with an album of the same name that was no literary masterpiece but certainly showed promise for the future. And so it came to pass that Jethro Tull had a hit single in America with 'Bungle In the Jungle' and Terry Ellis was a happy man. Indeed.
Anderson: The film wasn't a very commercial venture anyways. It related strongly to the passion play vibe; what happens to someone after they die, choices in life after death. The album was loose ideas based around Passion Play thoughts.
I didn't want to do another album like Passion Play, that was such a desperate attempt to overcome the deficiencies of 'Thick'.
If I didn't make an effort to go so far into the music it would be an album yet to be made and the next (laughs) album would be 'Passion Player' sooner or later.
Palmer: You should hear the orchestral tapes to 'Warchild'. You should hear them!
(Triumphant kettle drums, lights flicker and fade).
A new package of Dunhills has been opened. The inspiration lyric diary lies on the fine oak table. The barman lifts his elbows off the counter and reaches for the Remy Martin in the Resident's lounge with red velvet curtains in the Montreaux Palace Hotel overlooking Lake Geneva on this cold winter evening. Tatty old coat where are you now?
You probably know what I think of pop stars. Elton John is a great singer, lovely songs, but who needs that whole number? He does and the kids do because they want to believe in that kind of pop star. I don't believe in that. Why are we talking when I can read you a song? (reads song).
It's a silly send-up song (hums tune) I'm not bitter, I just want to go on record as saying I'm not one of those. I'm a bloke who wears an old leather jacket (grabs leather jacket) with a bullet hole in the sleeve (grabs bullet hole in the sleeve), mud all down here cause I fell off a motorbike (points to mud).
I wear black because it's negative, says I'm nothing. You may say (defensive) it's a preoccupation wearing an image but I feel strange the minute I put anything coloured on ...
I don't want to get into clothes at all (sternly). I may as well be nude but society won't permit me. Besides (comical) I'm not sufficiently well endowed in public without feeling belittled.
(Softly.) It gets harder and harder as the years go on but not quite so hard for us as some groups. Our audience allows us to change. They almost expect something different. Some groups are expected to remain faithful to a certain niche in rock. Jethro Tull is allowed to change.
I think I was more inspired on Minstrel In The Gallery but in all fairness to the group I don't think they were.
Palmer: If you look closely at Minstrel In The Gallery you'll find that it's nearly all Ian.
Anderson: Most of what I write has some origin in my personal feelings but I also like to write about people who can't express themselves. They're all a bit about me. (Slight pause.) There would seem no point in doing anything other than the group.
Most people do solo albums because they feel they have to get out of it and do something else. I don't. What's the point? (scratches beard) Jethro Tull actually sounds better than Ian Anderson (blackout).
One difference between me and my contemporaries, and I don't mean to belittle them 'cause I've been in that position before where you're paranoid bored (a moment of quiet desperation). Moments where you're not getting it together anymore, not excited.
I am genuinely (earnestly) excited about tomorrow. About writing a new song even if I throw it away (rips blank sheet of paper). It's exciting (eyes twinkle). I've got to read that (points to Quiz Kid) tomorrow. I am excited.
(Soft blues light the stage, the final analysis).
I'd like to be remembered as the guy at the Marquee BUT this year I'll be on Top of the Pops again playing to a new generation of kids remembering me as something different.
At the back of the old fiendish brain their lurks (animatedly) something in me that wants to go on Top of the Pops. I don't know why. I think I'll do it again. Have a hit single.
Palmer: This next single just might do it in Britain. Jethro Tull could be a brand new group. (Lights dim.)
(All that's left onstage is a crumpled package of Dunhills, a quarter bottle of whiskey, a tatty old coat, a tatty old flute, and a black book full of inspiration — lights fade out slowly. 'Bouree' floats out through the darkened theatre. The curtain is drawn).
Martin Acoustic guitars — models 045 CF, 042 CF, 230 CF
Artley & Conn Flute
Bermachelli Soprano Sax
Gibson Les Paul custom
Hi Watt 100 Amp
Hi-Watt 4 x 12 cabinets
H/H stereo echo units
Marshall tremelo amp
Multi-phase custom built pedal
Fender Precision bass
Fender Jazz bass
Martin bass bins
Martin bass horn
Hammond C3 organ
Leslie tone cabinets
Steinway grand piano
Country piano pick-up
Wurlitzer electric piano
Fender Rhodes key stage piano
Sound City electric piano
Ludwig blue Vistalite
24 x 14 bass drum
22 x 14 bass drum
13 x 9 tom tom
14 x 10 tom tom
16 x 16 tom tom
18 x 16 tom tom
20 x 18 tom tom
14 x 10 Ludwig snare
Ludwig sticks Rose-Morris
Ludwig silver sparkle
Ludwig black super classic (mainly for recording)
Evans Oilfield drum heads
Ludwig musser marimba
Thanks to Mike Wain for this article.