July 19, 2009 - 8:30 pm


Ian Anderson, rock flutist, brilliant composer and extravagant showman, founded Jethro Tull in 1968.
Jethro Tull soon acquired a worldwide cult status, creating masterpieces such as “Aqualung”, “Thick as a Brick” or Anderson reinterpretation on flute of Bach’s “Bourée”. All of these will be performed at Byblos to a rock audience ranging from 15 till 65.


Ian Anderson’s flute may be the defining factor in Jethro Tull’s music, but it’s only one element in a band that’s been around since the late 60s. Originally a blues-based rock band with a few dollops of British folk in their sound, they evolved into one of the most popular progressive rock bands of the 70s.

Jethro Tull formed in Blackpool, Lancashire, England in 1968. Their music is marked by the quirky vocal style and unique lead flute work of frontman Ian Anderson and by unusual and often complex song construction. Their music, though starting with blues rock with an experimental flavor, has incorporated elements of classical and Celtic folk music, as well as art rock and alternative rock. While other music groups did influence them in their early years, they quickly developed a unique, instantly recognizable sound.

Ian Anderson’s first band, started in 1963 in Blackpool, was known as The Blades. It had developed by 1966 into a seven-piece white soul band called the John Evan Band (later the John Evan Smash), named for pianist/drummer John Evans, who dropped the final “s” from his name to make it sound less ordinary. At this point, Barriemore Barlow was the band’s drummer, as he would later be for Tull itself beginning in early 1971. However, after moving to London, most of the band quit, leaving Anderson and bassist Glenn Cornick to join forces with blues guitarist Mick Abrahams and his friend, drummer Clive Bunker, both from the band McGregor’s Engine. At first, they had trouble getting repeat bookings and took to changing their name frequently to continue playing the London club circuit. Band names were often supplied by the staff of their booking agents, one of whom, a history buff, eventually christened them Jethro Tull after the 18th century agriculturist who invented the seed drill. This name stuck, simply by virtue of the fact that they were using it the first time a club manager liked their show enough to invite them to return.

After an unsuccessful single (an Abrahams-penned pop tune called ‘Sunshine Day’ on which the band’s name was misspelled “Jethro Toe”, making it a collector’s item), they released the bluesy album This Was in 1968. Accompanying music written by Anderson and Abrahams was the traditional arrangement ‘Cat’s Squirrel’, which highlighted Abraham’s blues-rock style. The Rahsaan Roland Kirk-penned jazz piece ‘Serenade to a Cuckoo’ gave Anderson a showcase for his growing talents as a flute player. Following this album, Abrahams left to form his own band, Blodwyn Pig. Anderson chose Tony Iommi (later of Black Sabbath) to replace Abrahams. Iommi, however, felt uncomfortable and decided to leave after only a few weeks, though he agreed to stay on through Tull’s appearance on The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus. Iommi was replaced by former Motivation, Penny Peeps and Gethsemane member Martin Barre, who impressed Anderson with his persistence more than anything else: he was so nervous at his first audition that he could hardly play at all, and then showed up for a second audition without a cord to connect his guitar to an amplifier. Despite this, Barre would become the second longest-standing member of the band after Anderson; he is still with the band as of 2009.

Her extensive charitable and community work has seen her awarded the Order of Canada, the Order of Manitoba and honorary doctorates from the University of Manitoba, Wilfrid Laurier University and Queen’s University. In 2006 she assumed the role of Honorary Colonel for 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron of the Canadian Air Force.

In 1981, McKennitt moved to Stratford, Ontario, Canada where she still resides today and is an active member of her community.

This new line-up released Stand Up in 1969, the band’s only UK number 1 album. Written entirely by Anderson—with the exception of the jazzy rearrangement of J. S. Bach’s ‘Bourrée’ — it branched out further from the blues though not yet approaching the up-and-coming style of progressive rock being developed at the time by groups such as King Crimson, The Nice and Yes. Stand Up feels, instrumentally, not entirely unlike a jazz-tinged early Led Zeppelin album, with a heavy and slightly dark sound. The ‘Living in the Past’ single of the same year reached No. 3 in the UK chart, and though most other progressive groups actively resisted issuing singles at the time, they had further success with other singles, ‘Sweet Dream’ (1969), ‘The Witches’ Promise’ (1970), and 5-track EP Life Is a Long Song (1971), all of which made the Top 20. Although inspired by jazz musician Dave Brubeck’s ‘Take Five’, ‘Living’ is much closer to the American rock and roll artists than to jazz – a trend which has continued throughout the history of Jethro Tull to the present day. In 1970, they added keyboardist John Evan (although technically he was only a guest musician at this stage) and released the album Benefit which has a continuity owing as much to studio technique as to compositional skill.

Bassist Cornick left following Benefit, replaced by Jeffrey Hammond, a childhood friend of Anderson whose name appeared in the songs ‘A Song for Jeffrey’, ‘Jeffrey Goes to Leicester Square’, and ‘For Michael Collins, Jeffrey, and Me’. Jeffrey was often credited on Tull albums as ‘Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond’, but the extra ‘Hammond’ was phony. This line-up released Tull’s best-known work, Aqualung in 1971. The album is a combination of heavy rock music focusing on themes such as social outcasts and organized religion, and some lighter acoustic fare about the mundanity of everyday life.

Drummer Bunker was replaced by Barriemore Barlow in early 1971; he first recorded with the band for the EP Life Is a Long Song and made his first appearance on a Jethro Tull album with 1972’s Thick as a Brick. This was a concept album consisting of a single very long track split over the two sides of the LP, with a number of movements melded together and some repeating themes. The first movement with its distinctive acoustic guitar riff got some airplay on rock stations at the time and occasionally turns up in modern classic-rock programming as a “deep” or “rare” cut. The lyrical content was jokingly accredited on the album cover, as having been written in an Essay by a young, fictitious boy named Gerald Bostock. Thick as a Brick was the first Jethro Tull album to reach #1 on the U.S. Billboard Pop Albums chart (the following year’s A Passion Play being the only other; the featured songs on either album were over 40 minutes long). This album’s quintet—Anderson, Barre, Evan, Hammond and Barlow—was one of Tull’s longest-standing line-ups, enduring until 1975.

1972 also saw the release of Living in the Past, a double-album compilation of singles, B-sides and outtakes (including the entirety of the Life Is a Long Song EP, which closes the album), with a single side recorded live in 1970 at New York’s Carnegie Hall. The live tracks excepted, it is regarded by many Tull fans as their best overall release. The title track is one of their more enduring singles, though reportedly Anderson wrote it with the specific intent of preventing its ascent to the pop charts.

In 1973, the band attempted to record a double album in tax exile at Chateau d’Herouville (something the Rolling Stones and Elton John among others were doing at the time), but supposedly they were unhappy with the quality of the recording studio and abandoned the effort, subsequently mocking the studio as the “Chateau d’Isaster.” (An excerpt from these recordings was released on the 1988 20 Years of Jethro Tull boxed set. The complete set was later released on the 1993 compilation Nightcap). Instead they quickly recorded and released A Passion Play, another single-track concept album with very allegorical lyrics.

1974’s War Child, an album originally intended to be a companion piece for a film, reached number 2 on the Billboard charts and produced the radio mainstay ‘Bungle in the Jungle’. It also included a song, ‘Only Solitaire’, allegedly aimed at L.A. Times rock music critic Robert Hilburn, who was one of Anderson’s harsher critics. In 1975 the band released Minstrel in the Gallery, an album which resembled Aqualung in that it contrasted softer, acoustic guitar-based pieces with lengthier, more bombastic works headlined by Barre’s electric guitar. Critics gave it mixed reviews, but the album ultimately came to be acknowledged as one of the band’s most-beloved albums by longtime Tull fans. Following this album, bassist Hammond left the band, replaced by John Glascock. 1976’s Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die! was another concept album, this time about the life of an aging rocker.

The band closed the decade with a trio of folk rock albums, Songs from the Wood, Heavy Horses and Stormwatch. Songs from the Wood was the first Tull album to receive unambiguously positive reviews since the time of Benefit and Living in the Past. The band continued to tour, and released a live double album in 1978. Entitled Bursting Out it featured dynamic live performances of the lineup that many Tull fans consider the golden era of the band. The vinyl LP contains three tracks not found on initial CD editions, Martin Barre’s guitar solo tracks ‘Quatrain’ and ‘Conundrum’ and a version of the 1969 UK single hit, ‘Sweet Dream’. These tracks were restored in a re-mastered double-CD edition released in 2004.

During this time, David Palmer, who had orchestrated some strings for earlier Tull albums, formally joined the band, mainly on keyboards. Bassist Glascock died in 1979 following heart surgery and Stormwatch was completed without him (Anderson contributed bass on a few tracks). Anderson decided to record his first solo album, entitled A; due to pressure from Chrysalis Records, A was released in 1980 as a Jethro Tull album. It featured Barre on electric guitar, Dave Pegg (Fairport Convention) on bass, and Mark Craney on drums. The album had a heavy electronic feel, contributed by guest keyboardist/violinist Eddie Jobson (ex-Roxy Music). It had a sound and feel completely unlike anything Tull had exhibited before, highlighted by prominent use of synthesizers.

In keeping with the mood of innovation surrounding the album, Tull made an early foray into the emerging genre of music video with Slipstream, a movie of their concert at London’s Hammersmith Odeon in September, 1980 featuring the A lineup. The electronic style of the album was even more pronounced in these live performances and was used to striking effect on some of the older songs, including ‘Locomotive Breath’. The more familiar Tull sound was brought to the fore in an all-acoustic version of ‘Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day’, featuring Pegg on mandolin. Slipstream, long a rarity on VHS, was included in 2004 as a bonus DVD with the digitally-remastered edition of the A album.

Jobson and Craney departed following the A tour and Tull entered a period of revolving drummers (primarily Gerry Conway and Doane Perry). Peter-John Vettese replaced Jobson on keyboards, and the band returned to a folkier sound — albeit with synthesizers — for 1982’s Broadsword and the Beast. 1981 marked the first year in their album career that the band did not release an album. An Anderson solo album finally saw the light of day in 1983, in the form of the heavily electronic Walk into Light. As with later solo efforts by Anderson and Barre, some of these songs later made their way into Tull live sets.

In 1984 Tull released Under Wraps, a heavily electronic album. Although the band was reportedly proud of the sound, the album was not well-received, particularly in North America, and as a result of the throat problems Anderson developed singing the demanding Under Wraps material on tour, Tull went on a three-year hiatus during which Anderson began a highly successful salmon-farming business.

Tull returned stronger than anyone might have expected with 1987’s Crest of a Knave. With the band relying more heavily on Barre’s electric guitar than they had since the early 1970s, the album was a critical and commercial success. The style of Crest has been compared to that of Dire Straits, in part because Anderson seemed to no longer have the vocal range he once possessed. They went on to win a 1989 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance, beating odds-on favorites Metallica. The award was particularly controversial as many did not consider Jethro Tull hard rock, much less heavy metal. The fact that it was the first time a Grammy geared towards metal was presented, it was seen as a particularly hard blow and insult for heavy metal fans (after this, and perhaps because of this, separate Grammys were awarded for hard rock and heavy metal in the following years). Under advisement from their manager, no one from Jethro Tull turned up to the award ceremony. They were told that they had no chance of winning… In response to the criticism they received over the award, the band then took out an advert in a British music periodical with the line, “The flute is a heavy metal instrument!”

1988 was notable for the release of 20 Years of Jethro Tull, a 5-LP set (also released as a 3-CD set and as a truncated single CD version) consisting largely of outtakes from throughout the band’s history as well as a variety of live and digitally remastered tracks. It also included a booklet outlining the band’s history in detail.

After 1989’s hard rocking Rock Island, the band released Catfish Rising, Roots to Branches and J-Tull Dot Com . These albums were less heavy-rock-based than Crest of a Knave or Rock Island. While Catfish Rising has an overtly bluesy feel to it, the other two albums incorporate more folk and world-music influences, reflecting the musical influences of decades of performing all around the globe. In songs such as ‘Out of the Noise’ and ‘Hot Mango Flush’, Anderson paints vivid pictures of Third World street scenes. These albums have reflected Anderson’s coming to grips with being an aging rocker, with songs such as the pensive ‘Another Harry’s Bar’, ‘Wicked Windows’ (a meditation on reading glasses) and the gruff ‘Wounded, Old, and Treacherous’.

1992’s A Little Light Music was a mostly-acoustic live album which was well received by fans due to its different takes on many past compositions. This record also boasts of the arguably best vocal performance from Anderson in several years, as well as a rendition of the folk song ‘John Barleycorn’. In 1995 Anderson released his second solo album, Divinities: Twelve Dances with God, an instrumental work comprising 12 flute-heavy pieces that pursue varied themes with an underlying motif.

The band has endured into the 21st century and has continued to release new albums on a semi-regular basis. Recently, Anderson’s voice seems to have regained its previous range. 2003 saw the release of The Jethro Tull Christmas Album, which showcases the excellent musical abilities of all band members with a collection of traditional Christmas songs, together with old and new Christmas songs written by Jethro Tull.

As of April 2005, according to the official Tull website (, Anderson said the band has no plans to record any new studio albums in the near future and that he would prefer to dedicate his time to touring with both Tull and his solo Rubbing Elbows band. He would also like to make more guest appearances with other musicians, live and in the studio. There was an Ian Anderson live double album and DVD released in 2005 called Ian Anderson Plays the Orchestral Jethro Tull. In addition, a DVD entitled Nothing Is Easy: Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 and a live album Aqualung Live (recorded in 2004) were released in 2005.

Jethro Tull has nowadays evolved into a “family”, now working with a large group of different musicians on both sides of the ocean, playing alternately acoustic, orchestral and electric sets.



  •  This Was (Chrysalis, 1968)
  • Stand Up (Chrysalis, 1969)
  •  Benefit (Chrysalis, 1970)
  •  Aqualung (Chrysalis, 1971)
  •  Thick as a Brick (Chrysalis, 1972)
  •  A Passion Play (Chrysalis, 1973)
  •  War Child (Chrysalis, 1974)
  •  Minstrel in the Gallery (Chrysalis, 1975)
  •  Too Old to Rock ‘N’ Roll: Too Young to Die! (Chrysalis, 1976)
  •  Songs from the Wood (Chrysalis, 1977)
  • Heavy Horses (Chrysalis, 1978
  •  Stormwatch (Chrysalis, 1979)
  •  A (Chrysalis, 1980)
  •  The Broadsword and the Beast (Chrysalis, 1982)
  • Under Wraps (Chrysalis, 1984)
  • Crest of a Knave (Chrysalis, 1987)
  •  Jethro Tull (Chrysalis, 1988)
  •  Rock Island (Chrysalis, 1989)
  •  Catfish Rising (Chrysalis, 1991)
  •  A Little Light Music (Chrysalis, 1992)
  •  The Beacons Bottom Tapes (Chrysalis, 1993)
  •  Roots to Branches (Chrysalis, 1995
  •  J-Tull Dot Com (Varese, 1999)
  •  Living with the Past (Fuel 2000, 2002)
  •  The Jethro Tull Christmas Album (Fuel 2000, 2003)