Luton has given the world plastic pitches, a little airport and Ricky Hill but it has also produced something worthy of note across the globe and that is an innovative, progressive rock band we know as Jethro Tull. That’s why we’ve put a painstaking amount of work into all our Jethro Tull t-shirts so that we can feel confident we have done the guys justice by also creating something unique and progressive.
It’s a crazy thought to ponder that the incredible flute sound of Ian Anderson came because he was disillusioned at not being able to play the guitar like Eric Clapton. In his own words he didn’t want to be just another third rate guitarist and hence turned to the more unique sound in modern music of the flute.
I think the whole world is glad he did but it says something to us about a man so intent on being unique, or exceptional that when one path didn’t work he didn’t simply give up but instead tried to find a new path, a different path and in life sometimes disappointments can be the best thing as it pushes you in another direction and only later do you see it was for the better.
Now fans wear their Jethro Tull t-shirts with pride at concerts knowing it’s a sound other bands simply can’t or won’t replicate but after over 40 years of playing and with over 60 million albums sold it is a success story that fans feel a part of. It has been a journey too with style changes coming every so often that delighted some and surprised others but always kept coming back.
Potentially the band first became known globally for their album Aqualung. Now this side of the Atlantic they’d already began to stand out but this was the first album to get noted in the American charts and have singles get some real airplay time over there. The band had previously been split with Anderson and Abrahams really wanting to take two very different directions but with the latter’s departure came a new era.
Auditions were held and the spot went to Martin Barre and another line up change would see Anderson’s old time friend Jeffrey Hammond move to bass and some say this settled and cohesive unit formed the first part of their real success but it’s open to debate for most.
Several albums later their sound had become distinct even if the band were now primarily made up of former musicians in The Blades but even after a concept album surprised and critics continued to lose interest or passion for what Jethro Tull were producing what couldn’t be denied is that the paying public simply grew in their admiration for the band.
The Folk Rock Legacy and Beyond
It was now the end of the 70’s and again a different direction push was about to be made by the band. They had always had close links with Steeleye Span who were folk rockers at the time and had forged a close relationship with Maddy Prior as they supported her on her solo album away from the band.
Perhaps it was what they grew to feel whilst with her that led to the change but however it happened they released a folk rock trilogy of three albums including Songs from the Wood, Heavy Horses and Stormwatch. The close links remained with folk music and clearly there was an artistic exchange of musical ideals between Tull and Fairport Convention but what came out was spectacular.
Unfortunately though every era comes to an end and after John Glascock suffered heart problems and eventually passed it left several of the remaining band members ready to leave the band. Barlow followed and the others simply didn’t renew and the band was now back to Anderson and Barre.
Never ones to shy away from innovation the 80’s brought in an electronic rock sound. Maybe after what had happened they felt a different direction was definitely needed and there was huge excitement around the new electronic rock era as Roxy Music, Frank Zappa and Hendrix had paved the way or followed the sound later but they did return to their earlier roots and a more folk sound though even then the fingerprint of electronic rock was there in their use of synthesisers.
Now the Jethro Tull Train Starts to Move
Most of their appreciation live, commercially and in terms of awards came in a rather surprising twist by their move into hard rock. Hard rock is known for its vocal supporters and ardent fans and this is where the music train kicks in with Jethro Tull t-shirts, sell out crowds and even Grammy’s thrown in to add even more flavour to the mix.
I think we have to mention the Grammy’s don’t we? I don’t think anybody here expected Jethro Tull to win the Grammy in 1988 for Best Hard Rock/Metal Vocal or Instrumental Performance, an award Metallica were very much expected to win. It was a farcical as they didn’t even turn up for the ceremony because they hadn’t expected to be in with a shot but it led to some comic interchanges between the bands when Metallica finally won the award they thanked Tull for not releasing an album that year.
For all the latest information on anything Jethro Tull please visit their official website http://jethrotull.com/