Jethro Tull was a British rock group, formed in Luton, Bedfordshire, in December 1967.
Initially playing blues rock, the band’s sound soon incorporated elements of British folk music and hard rock to forge a progressive rock signature.
The band was led by vocalist/flautist/guitarist Ian Anderson, and have included other significant members such as guitarist Martin Barre, keyboardist John Evan, drummers Doane Perry and Barriemore Barlow, and bassist Dave Pegg.
The origins of Jethro Tull can be traced back to Blackpool, where Ian Anderson, Jeffrey Hammond and John Evan were at grammar school together.
Anderson was born in Dunfermline, Scotland and grew up in Edinburgh before moving to Blackpool in January 1960.
Evans had become a fan of the Beatles after seeing them play “Love Me Do” on Granada Television’s Scene at 6:30.
Though he was an accomplished pianist, he decided to take up the drums, as it was an instrument featured in the Beatles’ line-up.
Anderson had acquired a Spanish guitar and taught himself how to play it, and the pair decided to form a band.
The pair recruited Hammond on bass, who brought along his collection of blues records to listen to.
In November 1967, the band moved to the London area, basing themselves in Luton.
They signed a management deal with Terry Ellis and Chris Wright and replaced Smith with guitarist Mick Abrahams, but quickly realised that supporting a 7-piece band was financially impractical, and the group split up.
Anderson, Abrahams and Cornick decided to stay together, recruiting Abrahams’ friend Clive Bunker on drums and becoming a British blues band.
Cornick recalled that although Evan left, the band said he was welcome to rejoin at a later date.
In 1973, while in tax exile, the band attempted to produce a double album at France’s Château d’Hérouville studios (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”.
They returned to England and Anderson rewrote, quickly recorded, and released A Passion Play (1973), another single-track concept album, with allegorical lyrics focusing on the afterlife.
Like Thick as a Brick, A Passion Play contained instrumentation rather uncommon in rock music.
The album also featured an interlude, “The Story of the Hare Who Lost His Spectacles”, which was co-written (along with Anderson and Evan) and narrated by bassist Hammond.
A Passion Play sold well but received generally poor reviews, including a particularly damning review of its live performance by Chris Welch of Melody Maker.
During 1978 Glascock’s health deteriorated and he was replaced by Tony Williams.
Glascock died in 1979 after undergoing heart surgery, and his replacement was former Fairport Convention member Dave Pegg.
Before “A” (#30, 1980), Anderson revamped the band to include ex–Roxy Music Eddie Jobson and Mark Craney.
The tour supporting “A” was documented and incorporated into the long-form video Slipstream.
Beginning with The Broadsword and the Beast (#19, 1982), Anderson cowrote material with Peter Vettese, who had also worked with him on his solo album, Walk Into Light.
The following year’s Under Wraps continued to evince the group’s new keyboard-dominated sound and, by Tull standards, was a flop, topping at #76.
In 1984 a throat problem forced Anderson to forgo singing for the next three years.
By then he had established a profitable business raising salmon in Scotland.
The first album he recorded after that involuntary hiatus was Crest of a Knave (#32, 1987), the group’s first gold album since Stormwatch and the recipient of the first-ever Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Grammy.
Many observers felt that given the competition (which included Metallica and AC/DC) and the ill-fitting category, this was one of the more ridiculous awards in Grammy history.
Jethro Tull hit the road, but Rock Island stalled at #56, and even a return to a more blues-influenced sound could not pull Catfish Rising past #88.