Ian Anderson (musician): Wikis


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Ian Anderson

Anderson performing in Milan Italy
Background information
Birth name Ian Scott Anderson
Born 10 August 1947 (1947-08-10) (age 62)
Dunfermline, Fife
Genres Progressive rock, Folk rock, Hard rock, Blues rock
Occupations Musician, Songwriter, Flautist
Instruments Vocals, Flute, Guitar, Bass, Bouzouki, Balalaika, Mandolin, Harmonica, Soprano Saxophone, Keyboards, Whistle, Multiple instruments
Years active 1962 - Present
Labels Chrysalis, Fuel 2000, RandM
Associated acts Jethro Tull
Website IanAnderson.com

Ian Scott Anderson, MBE (born 10 August 1947 in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland) is a Scottish singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, best known for his work as the head of British rock band Jethro Tull.


Early life

Ian Anderson's father, James Anderson, ran the RSA Boiler Fluid Company[1] in East Port, Dunfermline. He spent the first part of his childhood in Edinburgh.

His family moved to Blackpool, Lancashire in 1959, where he gained a traditional education at Blackpool Grammar School,[2] before going on to study fine art at Blackpool College of Art from 1964 to 1966.

Early career

While a teenager, Anderson took a job as a sales assistant at Lewis' department store in Blackpool, then as a vendor on a newsstand. He later said it was reading copies of Melody Maker and the New Musical Express during his lunch breaks that gave him the inspiration to play in a band.

Anderson with Jethro Tull at London's Hammersmith Odeon, March 1978

In 1963, he formed The Blades from among school friends: Barriemore Barlow (drums), John Evan (keyboards), Jeffrey Hammond (bass) and Michael Stephens (guitar). This was a soul and blues band, with Anderson on vocals and harmonica - he had yet to take up the flute.

At this time Anderson abandoned his ambition to play electric guitar, allegedly because he felt he would never be "as good as Eric Clapton". As he himself tells it in the introduction to the video "Live at the Isle of Wight", he traded his electric guitar in for a flute which, after some weeks of practice, he found he could play fairly well in a rock and blues style. According to the sleeve notes for the first Tull album, "This Was", he had been playing the flute only a few months when the album was recorded. His guitar practice was not wasted either, as he continued to play acoustic guitar, using it as a melodic as well as rhythmic instrument. As his career progressed, he added soprano saxophone, mandolin, keyboards and other instruments to his arsenal.

His famous tendency to stand on one leg while playing the flute came about by accident. As related in the "Isle of Wight" video, he had been inclined to stand on one leg while playing the harmonica, holding the microphone stand for balance. During the long stint at the Marquee Club, a journalist described him, wrongly, as standing on one leg to play the flute. He decided to live up to the reputation, albeit with some difficulty. His early attempts are visible in the "Rock and Roll Circus" film appearance of Jethro Tull. In later life he was surprised to learn of iconic portrayals of various flute playing divinities, particularly Krishna and Kokopelli, which show them standing on one leg.

Later career

Anderson Performing With Jethro Tull, Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Canada March 24, 1977
Photo Courtesy: Jean-Luc Ourlin

While Anderson has recorded a small number of critically acclaimed projects under his own name, and frequently makes guest appearances in other artists' work, he has been identified in the public eye as the frontman of Jethro Tull for 40 years.

This is undoubtedly because a signature motif of Anderson's career has been a highly distinctive stage image, which has often been counter to the prevailing rock music culture. While he has habitually drawn inspiration from British folklore - at different times deploying stylistic elements of Medieval jester, Elizabethan minstrel, English country squire and Scottish laird - at other times he has appeared as astronaut, biker, pirate and vagrant. His personae often involve a large degree of self-parody.

As a flautist, Anderson is self-taught; his style, which often includes a good deal of flutter tonguing and occasionally singing or humming (or even snorting) while playing, was influenced by Roland Kirk. In 2003 he recorded a composition called Griminelli's Lament in honour of his friend, the Italian flautist Andrea Griminelli. In the 1990s he began working with simple bamboo flutes. He uses techniques such as over-blowing and hole-shading to produce note-slurring and other expressive techniques on this otherwise simple instrument.

Anderson plays several other musical instruments, including acoustic and electric guitar, bass, bouzouki, balalaika, saxophone, harmonica, and a variety of whistles.

Ian Anderson plays the Orchestral Jethro Tull - in Butzbach (Germany) 6 June 2007

He has recorded several songs on which he plays all the instruments as well as carrying out all the engineering and production (such as 1988's "Another Christmas Song"). His earliest foray into one-man recording was apparently on the popular Tull piece "Locomotive Breath". Unable to get his ideas across to the rest of the band verbally, he laid down percussion and guitar tracks himself before adding vocals and then bringing in the others, at a time when tracks were usually recorded with all band members in the studio. This is one of the most vital pieces on the 1971 Aqualung album and is a mainstay of Tull's stage show. Anderson's music blends styles such as folk, jazz, blues, rock and pop. His lyrics are frequently complex, (mostly) tongue-in-cheek criticism of the absurd rules of society and/or religion ("Sossity, You're a Woman"; "Hymn 43"; "Thick as a Brick"). He often combines lyrics with other leitmotifs such as folk, mythological, fantastic ("The Minstrel in the Gallery", "Jack-in-the-Green", "Broadsword and the Beast"). In the 1990s and 2000s, Anderson's songs often capture 'snapshots' of his daily life ("Old Black Cat", "Rocks on the Road").


In recognition of his life-long contribution to popular music, Anderson received two honours in 2006: the Ivor Novello Award for International Achievement and an honorary Doctorate of Literature at Heriot-Watt University, on 11 July 2006.

He remains widely regarded as the man who introduced the flute to rock music, and the only one who uses it as his main instrument. He is also considered the first rock musician to utilize a classical orchestral instrument and develop music to use it as a lead instrument. Other flute players to gain recognition now include Walter Parazaider of Chicago, Burton Cummings of The Guess Who, Ian McDonald of King Crimson, Ray Thomas of the Moody Blues, Thijs van Leer of Focus, Chris Wood of Traffic, Andrew Latimer of Camel, Jerry Eubanks of The Marshall Tucker Band and Peter Gabriel during his years with Genesis, however none but Gabriel and Wood gained anything close to the amount of recognition utilizing the instrument.

Anderson was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2008 New Year Honours.

Musical collaborations and other work

Ian Anderson plays flute on the Men Without Hats song "On Tuesday" from their album Pop Goes the World (1987), and on the Blackmore's Night song "Play, Minstrel, Play" from their debut album Shadow of the Moon (1997).

Ian Anderson appears as a guest on the song "All Along You Know" from The Big Prize, the second album by Canadian rock band Honeymoon Suite. This followed Jethro Tull's 1984 tour on which Honeymoon Suite was one of the opening acts. He was also a DJ on Planet Rock, presenting his own two-hour show Under The Influence.

Anderson performs as a special guest on two Uriah Heep live albums: Acoustically Driven and Electrically Driven, on both performing the same two songs of Uriah Heep repertoire: Circus and Blind Eye.

Anderson at the 2004 Cropredy Festival

Ian Anderson plays flute on the track "Portmeirion" on Fairport Convention's 2001 album 'XXXV'. Anderson has performed with Fairport Convention at their annual Cropredy Festival on several occasions since the mid-1980s, when their bass player Dave Pegg was also a member of Jethro Tull.

Anderson produced Steeleye Span's 1974 album Now We Are Six, as well as appearing on and producing Steeleye Span member Maddy Prior's first solo album "Woman In The Wings", for which Jethro Tull made most instrumental contributions.

Family and personal life

From 1970 to 1974, Anderson was married to Jennie Franks, a photographer who is credited with writing most of the lyrics to the song Aqualung. Anderson married Shona Learoyd in 1976, described by Rolling Stone magazine as a "beautiful convent-educated daughter of a wealthy wool manufacturer"[3]. She had studied ballet for 10 years, though Anderson met her when she was working as a press officer at Jethro Tull's then record-label Chrysalis Records. She later became involved with the band's on-stage special effects.

The couple have lived in a 16th-century redbrick farmhouse on the 500-acre Pophleys estate in Buckinghamshire, England, and on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. They currently live in Wiltshire, England. They have two children: James Duncan Anderson, also a musician; and Gael, who works in the film industry and is married to the actor Andrew Lincoln.

Anderson insists he has never done drugs, and never enjoyed being around people who were doing drugs.

Ian is a survivor of deep vein thrombosis, and has done several public service announcements to raise awareness of the disease.

Among his interests Anderson lists protecting wild cats, especially those that have been rescued from harsh captivity; cameras, chiefly Leicas; Indian cuisine - he has written a beginner's guide, thus far published only on the Internet.[4]

Ian describes himself as being "somewhere between Deist and Pantheist" religiously, according to his foreword to the pamphlet for his 2006 St. Brides charity concerts for the homeless.[5]

Anderson has never taken the driving test, though he lists off-road motorcycling among his interests.

During the late 1980s a popular urban legend concerned Anderson's alleged "far-right views". The allegations were groundless and appear to stem from confusion with another Ian Anderson who was a spokesman for the far-right National Front party.

Business activities

Anderson is a successful businessman away from the music industry, and he has owned several salmon farms. His Strathaird concern[6], based on his estate on the Isle of Skye was worth £10.7 million in the late 1990s, when parts of it began to be sold off. He currently owns a group of companies which reported a gross profit of £1.8 million in 2004, when the Sunday Herald newspaper reported:

He and his wife Shona, the sole shareholders and directors, shared a £500,000 dividend and emoluments, excluding pension contributions, of £850,954. A modest pre-tax loss of £5,806 was booked for the year but the balance sheet shows shareholders’ funds stand at £3.2m. Income included a payment of £209,517 following one of the rock group’s regular checks on its flow of royalties."[7]

Solo discography

Year Name Type Label Peak chart position
USA UK Germany
1983 Walk into Light Studio album Chrysalis Records 78
1995 Divinities: Twelve Dances with God " EMI 1
2000 The Secret Language of Birds " Fuel 2000 26
2003 Rupi's Dance " RandM Records 40
2005 Ian Anderson Plays the Orchestral Jethro Tull Live album/DVD ZYX Music 68 (CD)


  1. ^ "Tull Press". http://www.tullpress.com/dp19oct79.htm. 
  2. ^ Nollen, Scott Allen. Jethro Tull: A History of the Band, 1968-2001, p. 23. McFarland, 2001. ISBN 0786411015
  3. ^ "Rock's heaviest breather is Ian Anderson". 1977-03-21. http://www.tullpress.com/p21mar77.htm. Retrieved 2007-04-22. 
  4. ^ Ian Anderson. "Indian Food Guide". http://www.j-tull.com/musicians/iananderson/indian.html. Retrieved 2007-04-22. 
  5. ^ "Ian Anderson's Diary - January 2007". http://www.iananderson.com/news/diaries/iaja2007.html. Retrieved 2007-04-22. 
  6. ^ "Strathaird Salmon Ltd". http://www.macrae.co.uk/mini_sites/strathaird. Retrieved 2007-04-22. 
  7. ^ Jim Gough (2004-05-30). "Anderson swaps fish for his flute". Sunday Herald. http://web.archive.org/web/20040607035038/http://www.sundayherald.com/42278. Retrieved 2007-04-22. 

External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Ian Anderson

Ian Scott Anderson (born 1947-08-10) is a Scottish singer, songwriter, guitarist and flautist. He is best known as the head of the rock band Jethro Tull.



Aqualung (1971)

  • Oh father high in heaven — smile down upon your son
    Who's busy with his money games — his women and his gun.
    • "Hymn 43"

Thick as a Brick (1972)

  • I can make you feel but I can't make you think
    Your sperm's in the gutter, your love's in the sink.
    • "Thick As a Brick"

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