Jethro Tull Biography
Initially playing blues rock with an experimental flavour, they have also incorporated elements of classical music, folk music, jazz and art rock into their music.
The band has sold more than 60 million albums worldwide in a career that has spanned 5 decades.
Ian Anderson's first band, started in 1962 in Blackpool, was known as The Blades. By 1964, it had developed into a seven-piece white soul band called The John Evan Band (later The John Evan Smash), named after pianist/drummer John Evan. At this point, future Jethro Tull drummer Barriemore Barlow was a member.
In 1967 the band moved to the London area in search of more bookings, basing themselves in nearby Luton; they also travelled to Liverpool. However, money remained short and within days of the move most of the band quit and headed back north, leaving Anderson and bassist Glenn Cornick to join forces with blues guitarist Mick Abrahams and his friend, drummer Clive Bunker, both from the Luton-based band McGregor's Engine. At first, the new band had trouble getting repeat bookings and they took to changing their name frequently to continue playing the London club circuit. Band names were often supplied by their booking agents' staff, one of whom, a history enthusiast, eventually christened them "Jethro Tull" after the 18th-century agriculturist. The name stuck because they happened to be using it the first time a club manager liked their show enough to invite them to return. They were signed to the blossoming Ellis-Wright agency, and became the third band managed by the soon-to-be Chrysalis empire.
Their first single was released in 1968, written by Abrahams and produced by Derek Lawrence, and called "Sunshine Day"; on the label the group's name was misspelled "Jethro Toe," making it a collector's item. "Sunshine Day" was unsuccessful.
They released their first album This Was in 1968. In addition to music written by Anderson and Abrahams the album included the traditional "Cat's Squirrel," which highlighted Abrahams' blues-rock style. The Rahsaan Roland Kirk-penned jazz piece "Serenade to a Cuckoo" gave Anderson a showcase for his growing talents on the flute, an instrument which he started learning to play only half a year before the release of the album. The overall sound of the group at this time was described in the Record Mirror by Anderson in 1968 as "a sort of progressive blues with a bit of jazz."
Following this album, Abrahams left after a falling out with Anderson and formed his own band, Blodwyn Pig. There were a number of reasons for his departure: he was a blues purist, while Anderson wanted to branch out into other forms of music; Abrahams and Cornick did not get along; and Abrahams was unwilling to travel internationally or play more than three nights a week, while the others wanted to be successful by playing as often as possible and building an international fan base.
Guitarist Tony Iommi, from the group Earth (who would soon change their name to Black Sabbath), took on guitar duties for a short time after the departure of Abrahams, appearing in The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, in which the group (all but Ian's vocals, which were recorded live) mimed "A Song For Jeffrey" in December 1968. He returned to Earth thereafter.
1969–71: developing their own style
After auditions for a replacement guitarist in December 1968, Anderson chose Martin Barre, a former member of Motivation, Penny Peeps, and Gethsemane, who was playing with Noel Redding's Fat Mattress at the time. Barre was so nervous at his first audition that he could hardly play at all, and then showed up for a second audition without an amplifier or a cord to connect his guitar to another amp. Nevertheless, Barre would become Abrahams' permanent replacement on guitar and the second longest-standing member of the band after Anderson.
This new line-up released Stand Up in 1969, the group's only UK number-one album. Written entirely by Anderson — with the exception of the jazzy rearrangement of J. S. Bach's Bourrée in E minor BWV 996 (fifth movement) – it branched out further from the blues, clearly evidencing a new direction for the group, which would come to be categorized as progressive rock alongside such diverse groups as King Crimson, Genesis, Camel, The Nice, Gentle Giant, and Yes. A couple of months prior to the sessions for this album, the band recorded one of their best-known songs, "Living in the Past," which was originally issued only as a single. Anderson and Chrysalis Records manager Terry Ellis reportedly wrote it in 5/4 time with the intent of preventing its ascent to the pop charts. It turned out not to be the case, as the song reached number three in the UK chart, and though most other progressive groups actively resisted issuing singles at the time, Jethro Tull had further success with their other singles, "Sweet Dream" (1969) and "The Witch's Promise" (1970), and a five-track EP, Life Is a Long Song (1971), all of which made the top twenty. In 1970, they added keyboardist John Evan (initially as a guest musician) and released the album Benefit.
Bassist Cornick left following Benefit, and formed the band "Wild Turkey".He was replaced by Jeffrey Hammond, a childhood friend of Anderson whose name appeared in the songs "A Song for Jeffrey," "Jeffrey Goes to Leicester Square," "For Michael Collins, Jeffrey, and Me," and who also is the writer and narrator of "The Story of the Hare Who Lost His Spectacles," later featured in the album A Passion Play. Hammond was often credited on Jethro Tull albums as "Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond," a reference to the fact that Hammond's mother's maiden name was also Hammond, no relation to his father.
This line-up released Jethro Tull's best-known work, Aqualung in 1971. On this album, Anderson's lyrics included strong opinions about religion and society. Though consisting of distinct tracks, there is a consistent theme leading some rock critics and connoisseurs to label it as a concept album. The lyrics of the title song of "Aqualung" feature a disreputable tramp, wandering the streets and "eyeing little girls with bad intent". The song Aqualung was the result of Anderson's wife at the time and amateur photographer, Jennie, showing him a series of photos of homeless men; the focus of the song "Cross-Eyed Mary" is a young prostitute who operates from near a school. "My God" – written before "Benefit" and already a staple of the band's live act before Aqualung's release – is a full-frontal assault on ecclesiastic excesses: "People what have you done/locked Him in His golden cage/Made Him bend to your religion/Him resurrected from the grave..." In contrast, the gentle acoustic "Wond'ring Aloud" is a simple love song. The title track and "Locomotive Breath" remain staples of U.S. classic rock stations and, to this day, are rarely left out of the band's live set.
1972–76: progressive rock
Because of the heavy touring schedule and his wish to spend more time with his family, drummer Bunker quit the group after the Aqualung album, and was replaced by Barriemore Barlow in early 1971. Barlow 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. Disagreeing with the assessment from some music critics that Aqualung had been a concept album, Ian Anderson decided to give them "the mother of all concept albums", including the preposterous idea that the lyrics had been written by an 8 year old boy. The album consisted of a single track running 43:28 (an innovation previously unheard of in rock music), 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 received some airplay on rock stations at the time. Thick as a Brick was the first Tull album to reach number one on the (U.S.) Billboard Pop Albums chart (the following year's A Passion Play being the only other). This album's quintet – Anderson, Barre, Evan, Hammond, and Barlow – lasted until the end of 1975.
1972 also saw the release of Living in the Past, a double-album compilation of remixed 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 title song, recorded and released three years earlier, would gain even greater U.S. success because of this album.
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." An 11-minute excerpt from these recordings was released on the 1988 20 Years of Jethro Tull boxed set, and the complete "Chateau d'Isaster Tapes" were finally released on the 1993 compilation Nightcap, with overdubbed flute lines where the vocal parts were missing. They returned to England and Anderson rewrote, quickly recorded, and released A Passion Play, another single-track concept album, with allegorical lyrics focusing on the afterlife. A Passion Play continued the diverse instrumentation introduced in Thick As a Brick, and added saxophones to the mix. 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.
Around this time, the band's popularity with critics began to wane but their popularity with the public remained strong. 1974's War Child, an album originally intended to be a companion piece for a film, reached number two on the Billboard charts and received some critical acclaim, and produced the radio mainstays "Bungle in the Jungle" and "Skating Away (On the Thin Ice of the New Day)". 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. The War Child tour also featured a female string quartet playing along with the group on the new material.
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. Written and recorded during Anderson's divorce from his first wife Jennie Franks, the album is characterised by introspective, cynical, and sometimes bitter lyrics. Critics gave it mixed reviews, but the album came to be acknowledged as one of the band's best by longtime Jethro Tull fans, even as it generally fell under the radar to listeners familiar only with Aqualung.
For the 1975 tour, David Palmer, who had long been the band's orchestra arranger, officially joined the band on keyboards and synthesisers. After the tour, bassist Hammond quit the band to pursue painting. John Glascock, who earlier was playing with flamenco-rock band Carmen, a support band on the previous Jethro Tull tour, became the band's new bassist.
1976's Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die! was another concept album, this time about the life of an ageing rocker. Anderson, stung by critical reviews (particularly of A Passion Play), responded with more sharply-barbed lyrics.
1977–79: folk rock trilogy
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 generally positive reviews since the release of Living in the Past.
The band had long had ties to folk rockers Steeleye Span (Tull were the backing band on Steeleye Span front woman, Maddy Prior's solo album Woman in the Wings as a way of repaying her for contributing vocals on the Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll album) and latterly with Fairport Convention (Fairport members Dave Pegg, Martin Allcock, Dave Mattacks and Ric Sanders have all played with Tull at one point or another). Although not formally considered a part of the folk rock movement (which had actually begun nearly a decade earlier with the advent of Fairport Convention), there was clearly an exchange of musical ideas among Tull and the folk rockers. Also, by this time Anderson had moved to a farm in the countryside, and his new bucolic lifestyle was clearly reflected on these albums, as in the title track of Heavy Horses, a paean to draught horses.
The band continued to tour, and released a live double album in 1978. Entitled Bursting Out it featured dynamic live performances from the lineup that many Jethro Tull fans consider comprising the golden era of the band. The vinyl LP contains three tracks not found on the initial U.S. single-disc CD edition: Martin Barre's guitar solo tracks "Quatrain" and "Conundrum" (which had an extended drum solo from Barriemore Barlow) and a version of the 1969 UK single hit, "Sweet Dream". (These tracks were included on the original two-CD UK edition, and were restored in a globally released remastered two-CD edition released in 2004.) To this day, the playlist is incorrect on the CD, with Quatrain/Cross-Eyed Mary in incorrect order. During the U.S. tour, because of health problems, John Glascock was replaced by Anderson's friend and former Stealers Wheel bassist Tony Williams.
Their third folk influenced album Stormwatch was released in 1979; this is considered the end of an era for the classic Tull period as Glascock, after having open heart surgery the previous year, died in his home of heart complications. Barlow, depressed and withdrawn after Glascock's death, soon quit the band. Moreover, Palmer and Evan were fired by Chrysalis Records before the A album.
Jethro Tull was left with Anderson (the only original member) and Barre.
1980–84: electronic rock
Tull's first album of the 1980s, A, was intended to be Ian Anderson's first solo album. Anderson retained Barre on electric guitar, and added Dave Pegg (Fairport Convention) on bass, Mark Craney on drums, and special guest keyboardist/violinist Eddie Jobson (ex-Roxy Music, UK, Frank Zappa, and Curved Air). Highlighted by the prominent use of synthesisers, it contrasted sharply with the established "Tull sound". After pressure from Chrysalis Records, Anderson decided to release it as a Jethro Tull album. Entitled A (taken from the labels on the master tapes for his scrapped solo album, marked simply "A for Anderson"), it was released in mid-1980.
In keeping with the mood of innovation surrounding the album, Jethro Tull made an early foray into the emerging genre of music video[original research?] with Slipstream, a film which takes place at London's Hammersmith Odeon (which was used for exterior scenes). However, the main concert footage was actually from an American performance in Los Angeles, California, at the Los Angeles Sports Arena (as heard on the Magic Piper ROIO), featuring the A lineup, filmed in November 1980. The video was directed by David Mallet, who has directed numerous music videos, including the pioneering "Ashes to Ashes" video for David Bowie. 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 Jethro Tull sound was brought to the fore in an all-acoustic version of "Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day" featuring Jobson on mandolin, Pegg on mandola and Craney on bass.
Jobson and Craney returned to their own work following the A tour and Jethro Tull entered a period of revolving drummers: Gerry Conway who left after deciding he couldn't be the one to replace Barlow, Phil Collins (as a fill-in for the recently departed Gerry Conway, played with the band at the first Prince's Trust concert in 1982), Paul Burgess (for the U.S. leg of the Broadsword and the Beast tour and who left to settle down with his family) and permanent drummer Doane Perry. The year of 1981 was the first year in their album career that the band did not release an album; however some recording sessions took place (Anderson, Barre, Pegg, and Conway, with Anderson playing the keyboards). Some of these tracks were released on the Nightcap compilation in 1993. In 1982, Peter-John Vettese joined on keyboards, and the band returned to a somewhat folkier sound – albeit with synthesisers – for 1982's The Broadsword and the Beast. The ensuing concert tour for the album was well attended and the shows featured what was to be one of the group's last indulgences in full-dress theatricality: the stage was built to resemble a Viking longship and the band performed in faux-medieval regalia.
An Anderson solo album (which was in fact an Anderson-Vettese effort) appeared in 1983, in the form of the heavily electronic Walk into Light. Although the album featured electronic soundscapes and synthesiser voicings advanced for its time, as well as cerebral lyrics about the alienating effects of technology, the release failed to resonate with long-time fans or with new listeners. However, as with later solo efforts by Anderson and Barre, some of the Walk Into Light songs, such as "Fly By Night", "Made in England" and "Different Germany", later made their way into Jethro Tull live sets.
In 1984, Jethro Tull released Under Wraps, a heavily electronic album with no "live" drummer (instead, as on Walk into Light, a drum-machine was used). Although the band was reportedly proud of the sound, the album was not well received, particularly in North America. However, the video for "Lap of Luxury" did manage to earn moderate rotation on the newly influential MTV music video channel. Also, the acoustic version of the title track, "Under Wraps 2", found some favour over the years and a live instrumental version of the song was included on the A Little Light Music concert CD of 1992. Some long-time Jethro Tull fans regard Under Wraps as one of the band's weaker efforts; however, Martin Barre considers it his favourite. As a result of the throat problems Anderson developed singing the demanding Under Wraps material on tour, Jethro Tull took a three-year break, during which Anderson continued to oversee the salmon farm he had founded in 1978, although a single "Coronach" was released in the UK in 1986 after it was used as the theme tune for a Channel 4 television programme called "Blood of the British". Vettese quit the band after the tour angry at the critics for bad reviews of BSATB, Walk into light, and Under Wraps
1987–1994: Hard rock
Jethro Tull returned strongly in 1987 with Crest of a Knave. With Vettese absent (Anderson contributed the synth programming) and 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. Shades of their earlier electronic excursions were still present, however, as three of the album's songs again utilised a drum machine. The band won the 1989 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental, beating the favourite Metallica and their ...And Justice for All album. The award was particularly controversial as many did not consider Jethro Tull hard rock, much less heavy metal. On the advice of their manager, who told them they had no chance of winning, no one from the band attended the award ceremony. In response to the criticism they received over the award, the band took out an advertisement in a British music periodical with a picture of a flute lying amid a pile of iron re-bars and the line, "The flute is a heavy metal instrument." In response to an interview question about the controversy, Ian Anderson quipped, "Well, we do sometimes play our mandolins very loudly." In 2007, the win was named one of the ten biggest upsets in Grammy history by Entertainment Weekly In 1992, when Metallica finally won the Grammy in the category, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich joked, "First thing we're going to do is thank Jethro Tull for not putting out an album this year," a play on a Grammy comment by Paul Simon some years before thanking Stevie Wonder for the same thing.
The style of Crest has been compared to that of Dire Straits, in part because Anderson no longer seemed to have the vocal range he once possessed. Two songs in particular – "Farm on the Freeway" and "Steel Monkey" – got heavy radio airplay. The album also contained the popular live song "Budapest", which depicts a backstage scene with a shy local female stagehand. Although "Budapest" was the longest song on that album (at just over ten minutes), "Mountain Men" became more famous in Europe, depicting a scene from World War II in Africa. Ian Anderson referred to the battles of El Alamein and the Falkland Islands, drawing historic parallels of the angst that women left behind by their warrior husbands might have felt:
died in the trenches at El Alamein,
died in the Falklands on TV
1988 was notable for the release of 20 Years of Jethro Tull, a five-LP themed set (also released as a three-CD set, and as a truncated single CD version on 20 Years of Jethro Tull: Highlights) consisting largely of rarities and outtakes from throughout the band's history, as well as a variety of live and remastered tracks. It also included a booklet outlining the band's history in detail. Now out of print, it has become a collector's item, although many (but not all) of the outtakes have been included as bonus tracks on remastered releases of the band's studio albums.
Multi-instrumentalist Martin (Maart) Allcock, who as a member of Fairport Convention, had played as a guest with Tull at the Cropredy festival the previous year, joined the band mainly as keyboard player, starting with the 20th Anniversary tour (this may seem unremarkable, but multi-instrumentalist Allcock - proficient on all manner of stringed instruments with Fairport - had never previously played keyboards professionally with a band).
In 1989, the band released Rock Island, which met with less commercial and critical success than Crest of a Knave. The lead-off track, "Kissing Willie," featured bawdy double-entendre lyrics and over-the-top heavy metal riffing that seemed to take a satiric view of the group's recent Grammy award win. The song's accompanying video found difficulty in receiving airplay because of its sexual imagery. Although Rock Island was something of a miss for the group, a couple of fan favourites did emerge from the album. "Big Riff and Mando" reflects life on the road for the relentlessly touring musicians, giving a wry account of the theft of Barre's prized mandolin by a starstruck fan. "Another Christmas Song", an upbeat number celebrating the humanitarian spirit of the holiday season, stood out against the brooding and sombre mood of many of the songs on the album and was well received at concerts. It was re-recorded for the 2003 Jethro Tull Christmas Album release.
1991's Catfish Rising was a more solid album than Rock Island. Despite being labelled as a "return to playing the blues," the album actually is marked by the generous use of mandolin and acoustic guitar and much less use of keyboards than any Tull album of the Eighties. Notable tracks included "Rocks on the Road", which highlighted gritty acoustic guitar work and hard-bitten lyrics about urban life and "Still Loving You Tonight", a bluesy, low-key ballad.
Allcock, who had played on the Catfish Rising tour, although not the album itself, quit the band at the end of the year to pursue solo work.
1995–present: world music influences
After the 1992 tour, Anderson had re-learned how to play the flute, and begun writing songs that heavily featured world music influences. Dave Pegg also left the band to concentrate on Fairport Convention. He was replaced by Jonathan Noyce. 1995's Roots to Branches and 1999's J-Tull Dot Com are less rock-based than Crest of a Knave or Catfish Rising. These most recent original Jethro Tull efforts reflect 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 old 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".
In 1995, Anderson released his second solo album, Divinities: Twelve Dances with God, an instrumental work composed of twelve flute-heavy pieces pursuing varied themes with an underlying motif. The album was recorded with Jethro Tull keyboard player Andrew Giddings and orchestral musicians. Anderson released two further song-based solo albums, The Secret Language of Birds and Rupi's Dance in 2000 and 2003, respectively.
2003 saw the release of The Jethro Tull Christmas Album, a collection of traditional Christmas songs together with old and new Christmas songs written by Jethro Tull.
An Ian Anderson live double album and DVD was 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.
Ian Anderson performed a version of the song "The Thin Ice," on the 2005 Pink Floyd tribute album Back Against The Wall.
2006 saw the release of a dual boxed set DVD "Collectors Edition", containing two DVD's "Nothing Is Easy" and "Living With The Past". Included on "Nothing is Easy" is footage from the 1970 Isle of Wight festival, considered by many Tull fans to be a classic Jethro Tull performance. "Living With The Past" includes a documentary that features the band on tour, in Britain and America, in 2001. It also has footage of a reunion of Jethro Tull's first line up – Anderson, Abrahams, Cornick and Bunker – filmed playing in a pub. Bassist Jon Noyce left the band in March 2006 after having a falling out with Anderson similar to the Anderson-Abrahams thing. Giddings quit the band in July 2006 citing constant touring and less time for family. They were both replaced by Dave Goodier and John O'Hara respectively
March 2007 saw the release of The Best of Acoustic Jethro Tull, a 24-song set of Tull and Ian Anderson acoustic performances taken from various albums. Included are a new live acoustic version of "One Brown Mouse" and a live performance of the traditional song (attributed to Henry VIII), "Pastime With Good Company."
In September 2007, Jethro Tull released CD/DVD Live At Montreux 2003. The concert was recorded on the 4 July 2003 and featured, among others, "Fat Man", "With You There To Help Me" and "Hunting Girl".
In addition to another busy tour schedule in 2007, Jethro Tull are also in the studio recording some new material for a new CD. If it is released it will be the band's first proper new album since 1999. Some of the new songs were performed live during the recent UK acoustic tour, and 2007 Autumn tour.
In February, 2010 the band were commemorated with a Heritage Award by PRS for Music. A plaque was erected on a Catholic Church in Blackpool where the band performed their first ever gig .
During the early 1970s Jethro Tull went from a progressive blues band to one of the largest concert draws in the world. In concert, the band was known for theatricality and long medleys with brief instrumental interludes. While early Jethro Tull shows featured a manic Anderson with bushy hair and beard dressed in tattered overcoats and ragged clothes, as the band became bigger he moved towards varied costumes. This culminated with the War Child tour's oversized codpiece and colourful costume.
Other band members joined in the dress-up and developed stage personae. Bassist Glenn Cornick always appeared in vest and headband, while his successor Jeffrey Hammond eventually adopted a black-and-white diagonally-striped suit (and similarly striped bass guitar, electric guitar, and string bass). It was a 'zebra look', and at one point a two-manned zebra came out excreting ping pong balls into the audience while both performers moved forcefully around their stage areas. John Evan dressed in an all-white suit with a neck-scarf of scarlet with white polka-dots; described as a "sad clown" type with extremely oversized shoes, he joined in the theatrics by galumphing back and forth between Hammond Organ and grand piano (placed on opposite sides of the stage in the Thick as a Brick tour) or by such sight-gags as pulling out a flask and pretending to drink from it during a rest in the music. Barriemore Barlow's stage attire was a crimson tank-top and matching runner's shorts with rugby footgear, and his solos were marked by smoke-machines and enormous drumsticks. Martin Barre was the island of calm amongst the madmen, with Anderson (and sometimes Evan) crowding him and making faces during his solos.
The band's stage theatrics peaked during the Thick As A Brick tour, a performance distinguished by stage hands wearing the tan trench-coat/madras cap ensemble from the album art, extras in rabbit suits running across stage and an extended interlude during which Barre and Barlow entered a beach-tent onstage and swapped pants.
A Passion Play was planned to have a full-length film to go with the stage theatrics. However, from this effort, it seems that only a few excerpts have survived to be re-released on recent commemorative videos of the band, including the interlude "The Story of the Hare Who Lost His Spectacles."
A similar multi-media effort had been planned for Too Old To Rock and Roll... but was not completed. Thereafter, the emphasis on theatrics was reduced but never eliminated. In 1982's Broadsword and the Beast concerts, the entire stage was transformed into a Viking ship. Anderson often dressed as a country squire on tours in the late 1970s, with the rest of the band adopting the style during their folk phase. The A tour featured the same white jumpsuit uniforms worn by the band on the album cover. Certain routines from the 1970s have recently become ensconced in concerts, such as having a song interrupted by a phone call for an audience member (which Anderson now takes on a cell) and the climactic conclusion of shows including bombastic instrumentals and the giant balloons which Anderson would carry over his head and toss into the crowd.
In 1992, Jethro Tull embarked on a tour titled A Little Light Music, with most of the show focusing on acoustic songs, many of which they had not played live for years, if at all. A live CD was recorded on this tour and released under the same title later in that year. This was well received by fans because of its different takes on many past compositions, as well as a rendition of the folk song "John Barleycorn". As documented by these live performances, Ian's voice had clearly improved since his vocal cord injury in the mid-Eighties. After the CD release, the tour continued as a show of two halves, the Light and Dark Tour.
1993 was marked as the 25th Anniversary of Jethro Tull by the release of various new products, as well as an extensive Anniversary Tour, which started in May 1993 and lasting nearly a year. In keeping with the anniversary theme, this tour again revived a number of older songs.
The 25th Anniversary Box was a four-CD set including new and vintage live recordings, remixed and remastered songs from earlier albums, and re-recordings of old songs by the 90s band. A two-CD Anniversary Collection compilation was also released, containing original tracks remastered, and a video collection included new interviews, promo videos and archive material. The remixed single, Living in the (Slightly more Recent) Past, reached #32 in the UK singles chart. A planned second boxed set of outtakes and rare tracks was scaled down to two discs and released towards the end of the year under the title Nightcap.
In 2006, Jethro Tull performed at Indian Institute of Management Bangalore's (IIM-B) cultural fest Unmaad in India."In the last 10 years we have seen India blossom in the eyes of the West. We eagerly wait to see the latest offing from Bollywood or the Indian rock bands," Anderson said after the performance.
Their 2008 tour, celebrating 40 years of the band, included many older songs as well as guest appearances from former band members and others.
Jethro Tull and sitarist Anoushka Shankar postponed a concert scheduled for 29 November 2008 in Mumbai after the November 2008 Mumbai attacks. They reorganized the performance as A Billion Hands Concert, a benefit concert for victims of the attacks, and held it on 5 December 2008. Ian Anderson commented on this decision stating that: "Some people might consider it disrespectful that we are having a concert but hopefully a majority will realise what this is about and what it says."
This summer, Jethro Tull will also start their next US tour. They'll play their first show on June 4 in Miami Beach.