The Jethro Tull frontman and charismatic lead vocalist of the rock band is one of the most interesting musicians in history. With over a dozen studio albums, six live releases, and a plethora of singles to his name, he is easily one of the most respected voices in progressive rock. But what really makes him fascinating is how little we’ve learned about him! Which band was named after an 18th century english inventor? Which band started out as a soul band? Can the flute really be played with the nose, or is he just lying to his fans? It’s time to spend some time thinking about Jethro Tull, the man behind the music!
Ian Anderson was born in Dunfermline, Scotland in 1948. Everything we know about his early life can be found on an official Tull website that may have been compiled by Anderson himself. It’s hard to say for sure because it contains so many facts that could have been made up to fill space. The website tells us that young Ian Anderson lived near a stream where he would often go to fish in the summer. He was also incredibly bookish, reading “his way though [his] grandfather’s library while listening to jazz and playing in his first band”. From this description we can see that Ian Anderson had the kind of early childhood that will make him a compelling interview subject in his later years.
By 16 he had already joined his first band, The Blades, as a drummer/voice combo. They were an all white soul band who were trying to move closer to popular music without losing their rawness and passion for black delta blues music. This sound would prove to be an inspiration for Anderson as he transitioned into Jethro Tull a few years later. The Blades were so popular in Scotland that they even had the honor of playing a gig in front of the queen! The official biography then tells us that Anderson’s mother actually owned a music shop, which is the kind of thing that no one would ever make up.
New Thoughts About Jethro Tull That Will Turn Your World Upside Down :
1. There is no such thing as ‘g’ in Jethro Tull.
Ian Anderson was born Ian Macleod Anderson and many of his bandmates’ surnames start with Mac. It’s a pretty common Scottish name, but Ian Anderson changed his last name to Tull, which means “bull” or “bullock”. But why the change? Well it appears that his hometown had two rams on their heraldry and Ian wanted a change because he wasn’t happy with the original coat of arms! Of course he would get over this silly mistake, but that’s not the only ridiculous coincidence in Ian Anderson’s biography.
2. Ian Anderson’s first band was called the ‘Blades’.
The name of his first band was the Blades, which sounds like a well-thought out name for a heavy metal band, but in truth it wasn’t! It was actually a white soul group with a sort of reggae/rock sound. That might not seem very metal to you, but there is some interesting music on their two albums that should be mentioned. The albums were called “White Ladder” and “Better Days are Coming Soon”, both released in 1970. On the band’s second album (a live release in 1971) they are credited as “The Blades with Ian Anderson”! Are your muscles tense yet?
3. The flute is truly an instrument of the nose.
Ian Anderson will often tell people that he learned to play the flute with his nose and not his lips, but we don’t believe him! It’s hard to imagine how you could play a flute using your nasal passages (the main route of air flow through the human body) but it seems like it would be possible if you had something to block out the noise.
Not only that, but he would also have to hold his nose in a way that forced the air out of his nostrils. Maybe he developed an illness that caused him to lose his sense of smell? It’s hard to say for sure since he has never spoken in detail about it, but we will probably never know because Ian Anderson refused to comment on the subject.
4. Jethro Tull is named after a silly cartoon character!
The band was originally named “Jethro Toe” and planned on being an all-instrumental band. They wanted to use humorous lyrics, but this didn’t really catch on with fans or critics. So in 1969, the band changed their name to Jethro Tull and decided to take for their name a silly cartoon character named Jethro. The name was made up by guitarist Mick Abrahams and it was an entertaining play on words (as you would expect from a heavy metal band) but it failed to impress fans or critics.
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