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Volume 2, Number 3
Published: May - June 1972
Interview date: 15 - 18 October 1971
"WE IMITATE WHAT WE'RE SUPPOSED TO BE"
Friday night in St. Petersburg. On stage in the Bayfront Center, the Jethro Tull rock-and-roll band is in the midst of 'Aqualung', the title song from their recent album. Ian Anderson, lead singer, is prancing around the microphone, leering at the little girls in the front three rows, making them squirm with his eyes. Behind him the other four young men in the band are pounding out beautiful, ear-piercing, crazy music.
Satin and Crystal, two girls who have somehow slipped into the roped-off officials-only area at the side of the stage, are not thinking about the music. They are thinking about how to get back to the motel after the show. Satin spots two men who look as if they may be traveling with Jethro Tull.
"You with Jethro?" she asks. The answer is yes. Satin moves closer and whispers, "Is there a party afterward? Where are you guys staying?" She is told that the band is staying at the Hilton Inn, right across the street, but that there's not going to be any party.
"We like to party," Crystal says as Satin moves in for the kill, rubbing herself against the man she is talking to. "You'll like the way we party." There are going to be thirty cities on this American tour for Jethro Tull, and this is only the first one.
Twelve hours earlier, Eric Brooks had been sitting in the lobby of the Hilton Inn, rubbing the back of his neck. Brooks is the tour manager for Jethro Tull, and it was his job to guide the tour through the thirty cities.
"Little bit of drama this morning," Brooks said. "All of our equipment ended up in Miami instead of here. So I had to charter a cargo plane, and I'm not even sure that it's on the way yet. We had to rent equipment for the sound check, but if the regular stuff doesn't get here by tonight, I don't see how we can play."
One by one, the members of the band come out of the elevators. They had flown from London the day before, switching to an Eastern Airlines flight in New York for the trip to St. Petersburg. They would play St. Petersburg, then Jacksonville, then Charlotte before moving on to the most important engagement of the tour: Madison Square Garden in New York, before 23,000 people.
And now they were waiting to walk across the street to the arena and test it for sound. Five of them, who make more money than millions of older men can even dream of. Ian Anderson, the leader, looking like a bearded alley pervert, in reality a twenty-four-year-old musical virtuoso, a writer and flutist and guitarist and singer. Martin Barre, a happy-looking, gnome-like lead guitar player. Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond, a dark-featured bass guitarist of few words. John Evan, a wild-haired keyboard man who would rather study chemistry but is becoming wealthy this way first. Barriemore Barlow, the drummer, who looks like a debauched soccer star.
"Are we going over now, or what?" Anderson said. "Did that equipment come in?"
Eric Brooks looked at his watch.
"Let me go upstairs and make a call," he said. "I'll be right down and then I'll tell you."
He rode up in the elevator with a businessman at the hotel for a convention who asked,"Is that Jethro whatever, sitting in the lobby?"
Brooks said that yes, it was the Jethro Tull band.
"Beautiful," the man said. "How can I convince you all to play at my meeting tonight?"
Brooks looked back at him.
"Easy," he said. "Come up with fifteen thousand dollars."
The equipment wasn't ready, but Brooks went downstairs and told the band to go over to the arena anyway and practice with the rented gear. They crossed a busy street.
"Look at that," Ian Anderson said. "Look. Lizards. Right on the sidewalk, look over there."
They arrived at a door to the arena, but a workman said that they would have to walk around to the other side for the stage door. No one argued; they had been through this too many times before. By the end of the tour, when the nights with no sleep and the bad airplane rides and the cold hamburgers had caught up with them, they might snap. But not yet. Not on the first day.
Inside the arena, boards had been placed over the ice on which a local hockey team had played the night before. The equipment men were busy setting up the instruments. The band wasted no time. They climbed up onto the stage, took their positions, and started to play.
"One, two, one, two," Anderson said into his microphone.
"Mac, I'm not getting any bass. Can you do something about that?"
Halfway back in the arena, the chief sound engineer waved his hand and started to fool with the dials on his electronic board. He would be travelling with Jethro Tull throughout the American tour. As would his assistant. As would three equipment men, called 'roadies'. As would tour manager Brooks, and Terry Ellis, the manager of the band. As would a man named Alan Rosenburg, who worked for Warner brothers Records and whose main function seemed to be to act as breathing proof that Warners cared enough about Jethro Tull, one of their top money-making acts, to send someone along on the tour. Rosenburg stood in the middle of the arena floor, while all around him people set up chairs.
"I heard that Aqualung just went over eight hundred thousand sales," he said. He looked around for something to do, found nothing, and chose a chair.
Fifteen years ago, Ian Anderson might have been a pale, unrecognized flautist in some symphony. Because of rock-and-roll he is one of the world's best-known musicians. In the next four nights, he would play before 58,000 people, the great majority of whom would think he was some sort of special being, driven and frenzied and half mad. He and his band would travel on a chartered airplane and be whisked from airport to hotel to auditorium to hotel to airport in Cadillac limousines driven by chauffeurs who would call the younger men 'sir'. They would be approached by girls in every town they visited, all of whom they would turn down because touring is a business to them and they grew tired of the groupie thing years ago. They would make incredible sums of money, which would be handled by lawyers and accountants who would make certain that these young men would never have to work again if they didn't want to. They would lead the life that every modern young man dreams of somewhere in his secret heart: the life of the rock-and-roll star, jumping from city to city, taking the action with them. In each town, the kids had bought their tickets weeks ago, had been panting for the day when the famous band would arrive. Each town waited for Jethro Tull, ready with its money and its adulation, wanting its one night with this five-man travelling band.
The equipment had arrived, and the roadies were unloading it and setting it up on the stage, Anderson said into his mike,
"Terry or Mac, do you know where we rented this organ from?"
He got no answer. Again:
"Where did we get this organ?"
Neither Terry Ellis, the manager, nor Mac, the sound man, knew.
"Well, could someone find out?" Anderson said. His voice sounded far back in the arena, bouncing off all the walls. Within hours there would be 10,000 people here to see him.
"One of the keys is stuck, and it's squeaking, and we'd better fix it or get a new organ."
Two fifteen-year old boys, who had hitched over from Tampa the night before, hovered near the door leading to the parking lot. They wanted to come in and see Anderson in person. "He's a god," one of them said.
Yellow-jacketed ushers patrolled the vacant aisles, chalking in row numbers so tonight the fans could be herded to their assigned seats. It didn't matter; within five minutes of the show's beginning they would rush toward the stage anyway, toward the Jethro Tull band.
At 6:45 the band was still checking the instruments. Outside, hundreds of young Florida kids were already waiting, wanting to get in early. The backup band, another English group called Freedom, would go on at eight o'clock, and by the time the equipment had been switched around and Jethro Tull got started, it would be nine. But the kids had nothing else to do, and they were here already.
"Can we get a good balance, guys, and get out of here?" Terry Ellis called up to the stage.
"I don't know," Ian Anderson yelled back. "That organ's still wrong."
Two hours later they were in the dressing room, sipping at cans of beer and waiting for Ellis to tell them it was time to go on. The casual air of the afternoon was gone; now it was time to be rock-and-roll superstars. They were quiet and tense. Anderson was in a long plaid coat that reached for the floor, with black tights and no pants. Hammond-Hammond was in a silver-and-green striped zoot suit. Barre was in crotch-hugging tights, just like Anderson. Barlow was in red shorts with a matching tank-top. Evan was in a white intern's uniform. They would wear these get-ups every night of the tour, and in every town the kids would think how wild it all was, how spontaneous and cool. Anderson went into a toilet stall to get away from the noise and tune his acoustic guitar. The others said nothing, just waited.
A photographer came into the room and looked round.
"Ten years ago, I would have said that this was a scene out of a Fellini movie, or that I was in an insane asylum," he said. "Most likely it would have been the latter."
Barlow beat his drumsticks against a rubber practice pad, getting loosened up. Then Terry Ellis said it was time.
Anderson took the stage first and began a Jethro Tull standard, 'My God'. It starts out quietly, and while he sang and played, the others came on stage. Then the spotlights went up full, and the incredible sound of all the electric instruments began to shake the Bayfront Center. It was great rock-and-roll, and they went on for more than an hour and a half. They looked like possessed demons on stage. The audience loved them, wanted to devour them. Little girls shook and moaned as they watched Anderson, and no one sat down after the first three songs. They went off to a roar, and by the time they were back in their hotel rooms, most of the people had still not managed to make their way out of the parking lot.
"Be in the lobby at nine," Eric Brooks said. "The plane leaves for Jacksonville at nine-thirty."
The band went straight off to bed, ignoring the willing ladies of St Petersburg. None of them picked up a newspaper, so they didn't notice the article on the obituary page that was headlined 'Gene Vincent, 36, Dead; Rock Star of '50s'. It was an Associated Press story out of Newhall, California. It began: 'Gene Vincent, the ducktailed rock star of the 1950s who was best known for his recording of 'Be-Bop-a-Lula', had died at the age of 36, hospital officials report.' It told of his rise to fame and ended: ‘Last week, a British divorce court judge ordered Vincent to pay his estranged wife $1440 in two weeks or go to jail. Vincent, reported to have fallen behind in $24 weekly alimony payments, said he was broke, in debt, and was paid $156 a week by his managers.' The Jethro Tull band slept, getting ready for city number two.
Saturday morning, in a two-engine propeller plane en route to Jacksonville.
"I don't like this at all," Barrie Barlow said. "The body is too big for the wings. The wings curve upward. Did you see that? I'm telling you, the bloody body is too big for the wings."
Ian Anderson, trying to sleep in the seat across the aisle from Barlow, opened his eyes.
"Oh, come on," Anderson said. "We've all flown on these things before."
The seats in the front half of the plane had been removed. In their place, the five tons of Jethro Tull electronic equipment had been loaded and tied down. The traveling party was arranged in the remaining seats, behind the amplifiers and speakers.
Alan Rosenburg, the promotion man from Warner Brothers, looked pale, and his hands were shaking. "I hate these things too," he said to Barlow. Barlow walked quickly to the front of the cabin, then reappeared a minute later.
"I think it's all right," he said. "The pilot told me this thing was built in 1959. That seems safe enough."
Terry Ellis, the manager, was studying a contract. He looks like a rock musician; his hair hangs to his shoulders and he favours jeans and T-shirts.
"The whole thing is based on maintaining an illusion," he said. "A kid pays five-fifty for a ticket. He buys it three weeks in advance of the show, and for all those three weeks he's thinking about the show. It's going to be a special night for him; a big band is coming to his little town, to play for him and his friends. He wants to think it's special for us, too. So he blocks out of his mind the obvious — the fact that we play the same set thirty nights in a row. He doesn't want to think that in the morning we'll get on our plane and go to the next town and play the exact same set, the same songs in the same order. He doesn't want to think in terms of the roadies tearing down the equipment and trucking it out to the airport so we can be on the move. He just wants to think about the two hours we're on stage. So we have to go along. We have to make him think that his town is special and unique for us. He has to fight the reality of a rock-and-roll tour, and if we're pros, we help him fight it."
Ian Anderson has drifted off to sleep. On the album covers and on the promotional material, the publicists try to make him out a strange, devilish, evil folk figure; that is what mesmerizes the young fans. Here, he was just a slight, rumpled, tired-looking musician on his way to the next paycheck.
There was some delay in the Jacksonville airport, and the limousines were not ready, so the band filed into the coffee shop to wait while Eric Brooks straightened things out. The sign in the waiting area said: 'Jacksonville: The Bold New City of the South.' It is only when you operate on a national scale, as the big traveling bands do, that things like that begin to lose all meaning. The different cities don't matter, they have no real identity. The country is just airports and motel rooms and auditoriums.
A man from National Airlines with "Hi! I'm Robert" on his pocket approached Martin Barre, who was trying to fix the volume on a cassette tape recorder so he could hear himself play the guitar. "You playing at the coliseum tonight?" Robert asked. Barre looked up and nodded. "Well, you're going to like it in Jacksonville," Robert said. "We like all of you bands. 'Jesus Christ Superstar' was here last week, and they had to turn away two thousand people. I always like to talk to the bands when they come through, myself. I think you guys are all real nice guys." Barre smiled and kept trying to make the recorder work.
The limousines arrived, and soon the band was at the hotel. "This town is so dead," said a girl behind the registration desk. "Why don't you guys burn this place down, the whole hotel?" She thought she was dealing with the Revolution.
The hours disappear when you are traveling every day, and it was soon time to get a quick sandwich before the sound check. Alan Rosenburg was at the table.
"When we get to New York, I want to take you fellows to the Copa for dinner. I've already made reservations," he said.
"Do we need a tie?" Ian Anderson asked.
"Don't worry about it," Rosenburg said. "I'll take care of it."
During the sound check, at a dismal, rancid hall, it became apparent that no chairs were going to be set up on the arena floor. The local promoter, a loud, frantic young man named Sid Drashin, who did not seem able to talk to another person without clutching that person's arm, explained why.
"The kids don't dig it,"he said. "They want to be free to move. So we just let 'em fill the place up like they want to. They like it better that way."
Not to mention that without chairs, Drashin could pack them in like livestock, jamming them against each other until they could not move or sit, just stand in the heat, at $5.50 each.
At 5:30 the kids were lined up outside, pushing against the glass doors, trying to get in. A pretty little thirteen-year-old blonde in shorts managed to get into the building. She walked up to one of the ticket-takers. "When are the doors going to open?" she said. The old ticket-taker put his arm around her, caressing her shoulder. "Just a little longer, honey, don't you worry," he said, rubbing away.
One girl passed out. The ticket-takers thought she was faking, thought she was just trying to get in early, but it turned out that she wasn't. They carried her in and laid her out on a bench. At length she came to. The ticket-takers asked if she wanted to go home. She said no, she'd go back out and wait. She wasn't going to miss the show.
Meanwhile, Mac the sound man was standing with Ian Anderson. "We need a guitar mike on channel three," Mac said. On stage, Martin Barre was playing his guitar. Anderson stood in the middle of the cold hall, listening to the music his band was making, and shook his head happily.
Then the night-time came, and never has the cattle pen effect been more obvious or more sickening. The kids were squeezed together on the floor, unable to budge. The roadies were setting up the Jethro Tull equipment on the stage when, out of the balcony, came a voice. "Look in back of the drums," the voice yelled. Roy, one of the roadies, went to have a look. It was a marijuana joint, like those that are always tossed at the band. "It's real," the voice shouted. Roy sees this every night. Being a rock-and-roll roadie is an exhausting job, moving heavy equipment all over the world, loading planes and trucks, getting no sleep, getting up earlier than everyone else and staying later after the concert. But it's better than English factory work, and you get to see more than you ever would laying bricks. Ray motioned out at the pitiful scene of the upright, crowded bodies. "Don't see how they take it," he said. "I could never do it, myself."
In the dressing room, Sid Drashin was managing to be fairly insufferable.
"Any screwups, you see me," he said to Terry Ellis. He grabbed Ellis' upper arm. "You hear me? The cops know me, you come right to me."
Ellis had been a rock-and-roll manager long enough to know not to argue with the promoters, just to bend them to his way. So when Drashin brought a policeman into the room, Ellis watched silently for a moment.
"Chief," Drashin said, "I want you to meet Ian Anderson, the leader of the group. Ian, the chief here has a plan if there's any trouble."
Anderson, his flute in his hand, shook hands with the cop, who had a gun on his hip.
"Real pleasure to meet you," the chief said. "Now, if they get out of hand, we'll take care of it. You just stop your song and go off stage, and my men will quiet things down. Then we'll let you know, and you can start up again."
Anderson looked toward the floor.
"Well, I don't know ..." he started.
"It'll work fine, Ian," Drashin said. "The chief and me understand each other."
Then Terry Ellis settled it.
"Chief," he said, "I'm going to have to ask you not to let your men on stage."
"But if there's trouble ..." the cop said.
"There won't be trouble, I guarantee it," Ellis said. "The only way there would be trouble is if the kids were to see a bunch of uniforms on stage. They don't trust uniforms. The only person they trust is Ian. And if he tells them to cool down, they'll cool down."
Drashin was confused. He didn't want to lose control. Finally, he said: "Chief, because I trust this band, just this one time I'm going to ask you to go along with them. Let Ian handle it, I'm giving you my OK right now."
The cop scratched his head. "Well, I guess it's OK," he said. "But if those kids start getting excited ..."
Terry Ellis put his hands up.
"No, no, don't think like that. If you were at a baseball game, and it was a close game in the bottom of the ninth, you'd expect people to be on their feet and screaming, wouldn't you?"
The chief said that yes, he would.
"Well, this is the same kind of thing," Ellis said. "We're going to get those kids excited. But believe me, Ian can handle it. We do this every night. We can take care of everything."
The cop and the rock star shook hands again, and it was taken care of.
"I think we worked that out fine," Sid Drashin said. Terry Ellis gave him a thin smile.
The show was great again. Anderson had complete control of the crowd, and they loved the band. A few girls fainted near the end and had to be lifted to the sides of the arena, but they had already paid their money. The band finished up, with the crowd roaring, and raced to the dressing area. Fifteen seconds after the last enormous blast from the speakers, they were sitting in drenched silence, peeling off their sweaty costumes, gulping for breath. Minutes passed before anyone spoke. Finally Anderson said,
"We've got to make a change. I'm too close to the bass. I'm hearing too much of it."
Barrie Barlow looked over.
"I thought it was good," he said. "I thought the balance was OK."
Anderson shook his head.
"No," he said. "I'm too close."
Sunday morning, in the limousine on the way to the Jacksonville airport to board the plane for Charlotte. Barre stared out the window as the limousine sped down a freeway.
"This touring could drive you crazy," he said. "This is ridiculous, living like this. I'm twenty-four, we made thirty thousand dollars in one night, we fly around every day — I can't even try to understand it."
On the plane en route to Charlotte, the mass of equipment had been tied down just as it had been the day before. It seemed as though it had never been taken off. But the roadies had hauled it off the plane, loaded it into a rented truck, driven the truck to the coliseum, unloaded the equipment, set it up on the stage, adjusted it just before Jethro Tull came on, loaded it back into the truck after the show, driven it to the airport again, reloaded it onto the plane, and tied it down. They do this every day and night of the tour.
There were no limousines in Charlotte, and the band had to wait in a small terminal while Eric Brooks hunted up some cabs. Terry Ellis talked to Anderson about the prospect of selling Tull music to Russian teenagers.
"They're a couple of years behind over there," Ellis said. "Stones and Beatles stuff, mainly."
"I don't know if they'd be ready yet for any advanced kind of stuff," Anderson said. "You'd think they might be ready for political music or something of the sort, though, wouldn't you?"
Martin Barre was sitting on a couch, recalling something that had happened on his way off stage in Jacksonville.
"I was coming off stage after the encore," he said. "And this coloured guy comes up to me. He had something in his hand and he stuck it up to my mouth and said, "Here, take this." It got in my mouth, and I spat it out right away. I bet it was dope. I'm sure it was some kind of drugs. I ran right to some water and rinsed my mouth out, and I don't think it did any damage."
All afternoon, the radios in the rooms of the Downtowner Inn repeated the message: "Jethro Tull is coming to town tonight, only a few tickets left, get there early." The band members either slept or watched professional football on television or wandered through the lobby. At the afternoon equipment check, Barrie Barlow waited for his drum kit to be assembled and walked across the stage to Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond.
"Did you see those football players on the television?" Barlow asked. "What a laugh! Skinny blokes just like myself, but with all these pads and protectors on! And at the intermission, this huge band marched out onto the field and played music! I wonder what they would do if they had to play real football like we do back home?"
About thirty young people found their way in through a stage door and gathered in front of the stage. No one told them to leave. Anderson was going through 'Aqualung' just to get a sound level, but the kids were expecting to be entertained. Anderson started and stopped, once in a while leaping off the stage to confer with Mac about the acoustics. The kids didn't move. Finally the promoter came in and shooed them out. Anderson had been singing 'Aqualung', on and off, for about forty-five minutes.
By dinner time, a slight drizzle was falling. John Evan went to the dining room of the Downtowner and ordered a steak and a beer before the concert. Someone at the table mentioned that at least part of Evan's frenetic routine at the keyboards must be an act.
"Not part of it," Evan said. "All of it. One hundred per cent. At home, I don't even own a record player. I never listen to our albums; couldn't if I wanted to, no place to play them.
"We imitate what we're supposed to be, that's all. And we're good at it, I hope; we make every performance seem like it's the only one on the tour, or at least we try to. But that's not me up there on stage; how could it be, every night? I mean, what kind of guy goes ranting all over the stage, getting down on his knees and waving his arms about? It's just one of the things I do for a living. A lot of people couldn't do it every night, I suppose. Sometimes it's hard for me to."
The question of what the audience thought came up. Evan said:
"I look out at those faces, looking at us like they do, and it's frightening. That's the only word for it; simply frightening."
He finished his beer and headed for the lobby.
Within an hour he was in the dressing room with the rest of the band, waiting to go into his nightly routine. On stage, a hip local disc jockey was saying: "Peace and love to you all. Now we have a bit of a hassle here tonight, if you can dig it. The fuzz aren't being very cool, see, and they say if you don't stay in your seats, they'll stop the concert. Can you dig what I'm saying?"
In the dressing room, Ian Anderson had a toy dart gun, complete with rubber-tipped darts. All five members of the band had brought the toys from England, along with a huge supply of darts. Alan Rosenburg, the middle-aged record company man, finally had figured out something he could do. He stood ramrod straight, a makeshift target held out at arm's length. He shut his eyes and gritted his teeth. The rest of the band got into the act, aiming at Rosenburg's target. Some of the toy darts flew past his ear. Rosenburg grinned nervously. It was a good thing he could not see himself.
This was the night for screamers and gaspers. They loved the band. Anderson was at his devilish best, stomping across the front of the stage, wearing nothing below the waist but his skin-hugging black tights. John Evan got a bag of peanuts from somewhere and began to toss them to the audience. The kids tried to scale the stage and get at the band.
The cops were fine, as they were in every city. It is difficult to imagine what goes through their minds during a show like Jethro Tull's. Here were the young kids of their community, the kids they live with every day of the year, going absolutely out of control over what seemed to be a mindless, sex-driven, long-haired, weirdly dressed bunch of lunatics with instruments. If the cops had been able to sit down with the band, or see them back at the hotel, they would have realized that it was all an illusion, that the boys in the band were probably considered tamer than their own children were at this very moment. Maybe that would have been reassuring. But the cops would have no such opportunity, and what they saw was the public Jethro Tull, and the ecstatic reaction from the school and street children of Charlotte. The fact that so many of the policemen could grin and accept it was pretty surprising.
After the show, a cluster of young girls waited around the limousines that were parked by the stage door. An open-faced little brunette with a fine body asked her girlfriend if she had been able to find out where Jethro was staying. "I heard the Downtowner," the girlfriend said.
The first girl said that Freedom, the band that played the opening set, was staying at the Holiday Inn. "Let's try the Downtowner first," she said.
Her friend said, "OK, but we have to be careful. I heard that there are a lot of security cops around the Downtowner because Jethro's there."
The first girl looked amazed. "So what?" she said. "Is it against the law to ball these days, or what?"
One hour after the show ended — one hour after one of the grittiest, rawest, sexiest rock-and-roll shows in the world had left the little girls of Charlotte open-mouthed and wanting and older than they had ever felt before — one hour after that, there was a strange scene in the sixth-floor hallway.
Ian Anderson was hiding in a doorway. In his hand he held one of the dart guns.
Martin Barre, Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond and Barrie Barlow were flattened against the other doors. In their hands, more toy guns.
Anderson broke first. He ran down the hall, spotted Barre. He took aim and fired the rubber-tipped dart into Barre's belly. Barre let out a squeal and skittered away.
Hammond-Hammond saw Anderson, ran up behind him, and fired a dart at Anderson's back. Anderson giggled and tiptoed off in pursuit of Hammond-Hammond. Barrie Barlow charged between them, and they broke up in laughter as they all tried to reload their guns. Barre was kneeling at the far end of the hall.
"Oh no!" he cried. "Me gun's broke! The spring in me gun's broke!"
The others descended on him and soon they were all rolling about, the darts skittering across the carpet.
Monday morning, in the first-class cabin of a Delta jet bound for New York's Kennedy airport. The roadies and equipment had gone in the charter, hours earlier. The band chose to take the quicker ride in the commercial plane. Ian Anderson, in a window seat, sipped his coffee and looked out over the clouds.
"I don't believe that people in the audience can't tell that a lot of it is an act," he said. "I mean, I'd be pretty blasé to think that all of it is a calculated act. That's me up on stage, whether I recognize it or not. I'm doing those things, so it's me. But they must realize that I can't be like that twenty-four hours a day. They must understand that I go to my room and write, or that I get up early and have to meet a plane connection. Maybe they're taken up in the excitement of the moment at the concert. But by the morning they have to realize that we're just like everyone else, don't they?"
As much as I try to let myself go completely during the show, there's always something in the back of my head, telling me how loud I can sing, or how much I can move and stretch. I have to be that way. If I get laryngitis or a pulled muscle, it could kill the whole tour. I have to maintain some controls. And you know, I look out at the audience, and I'm as much in awe of those kids who take drugs as they are of me for being on the stage. I can't even imagine what makes a person put all those things in his body.
At Kennedy, there were three limousines waiting, courtesy of Warner Brothers. In 1964, when the Beatles landed here, there were 10,000 fans. Now there are no more Beatles, and the only fans were the limousine drivers. The 23,000 people who would see Jethro Tull could wait until tonight, at the Garden.
Alan Rosenburg's last stand took place at the airport as he demonstrated his new York efficiency. He organised the porters and the drivers, and within minutes he had the band loaded into two of the big Cadillacs, and the luggage in the third. For him, the tour was now officially over; he had done his job.
Almost as soon as the band checked into the Loew's Midtown Motor Inn they locked themselves in their rooms for an hour's rest before the sound check. A girl named Wendy with an expensive camera around her neck talked with Terry Ellis over the lobby house phone. She looked disappointed when she hung up.
"I take pictures for Rock and Rolling Stone," she volunteered to someone who was watching her. "I have the cover on Rock this week. But Terry told me there's too much tension, they can't see me now. He said the limousines are full, too. I guess I'll meet them at the Garden."
She was waiting an hour later, when the big limousines drove up the ramps and through the Garden. It was empty, save for workers setting up the stage.
Terry Ellis, sniffing and sneezing, walked to the front of the stage.
"Where do I get backstage buttons for tonight?" he asked a tall girl. She pointed to a heavy-set longhair on the stage.
"Can you tell me where to get backstage buttons?" Ellis yelled up.
"Who are you with?" the heavy guy said, not even looking back.
Ellis blew his nose and said very evenly:
"I am the manager of Jethro Tull."
The heavy guy turned around.
"Oh, the band won't need buttons," he said.
"The band wants buttons," Terry Ellis said. "The band will have buttons."
The heavy guy was acting more interested now.
"Oh, don't worry, if you want them I'll take care of it," he said.
"We'll be needing them by the time we leave to go back to the hotel," Ellis said. "Please have them ready."
The heavy guy ran off to look for buttons.
Bill Bradley, the New York Knicks basketball player, walked in a side door. He was wearing a suit and tie. he watched the stage, listened to Anderson trying out 'Aqualung'. Bradley moved a few steps into the arena. he is a star in a different world, and he has had some nice nights in this room, but at the moment he looked as fascinated as any fourteen-year-old.
"Do you think they'd mind if I watched?" he asked someone. "I really like their music."
A walk to the top row of the last balcony did not change the sound. It was loud and good, just like an expensive stereo in a little room. But the sound seemed to have no relation to the tiny figures on the stage so many yards away, and it was hard to imagine what the people who had these seats tonight would have to look at, except for all that black space between themselves and the noise.
The check went quickly. A few hours later, the limousines had taken the band back to the hotel and had picked them up again to return them to the Garden for their big show.
The dressing room was airy and carpeted. No one seemed especially nervous. Barrie Barlow was angry because some union workmen wouldn't allow the roadies to drill holes in a board to steady his drum kit, but he just leaned back on a bench and waited.
A young freak wandered into the dressing room. Terry Ellis blocked his path.
"Who are you?" Ellis asked.
"I'm, uh, a friend of Ian Anderson's," the kid said.
"Out," Ellis said, guiding him towards the door.
The young people in the audience were passing joints around as the equipment was shifted following the opening band's set, and other kids were trying to sit on the floor in front of the stage. Garden security men kept moving them out. The stage was extremely high, so that it would be very difficult to climb up if Anderson and the rest of the band provoked that kind of response.
Then the lights went down and Anderson walked out alone. In the glare of a single spotlight he began his opener, 'My God'. But he could not hear himself through the monitors in front of him. The kids were on their feet howling a welcome. Anderson turned his back to them and screamed toward the rear of the stage:
"The monitors are fucked!"
Then he slowly turned toward his audience and smiled at them. They were still roaring, and they hadn't heard his anger. Frazier and Roy, the roadies, scrambled to fix the monitors, and within a minute it was all taken care of.
The conquest of New York was relatively simple. As Anderson finished the slow portion of the song, the rest of the band silently crept in behind him. Then, in a flash of light and sound, they were on.
Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond, charging menacingly toward the front of the stage, unsmiling as he brandished his bass; Martin Barre bending backward as he slashed at his lead guitar; Barrie Barlow attacking the drums, forgetting that he did not have the boards he wanted beneath him; John Evan, his hair flying, jumping up and down as he pounded on the piano. And Anderson, the pleasant young man on the airplane, was into his stage act. Eyes wide open, playing maniacally on his flute and spitting words out, he paraded in front of his audience, bringing them out of their seats and toward him and the band.
It could have been St Petersburg or Jacksonville or Charlotte or any of the stops yet to come on the tour. The kids were the same, they were ready to love Jethro Tull on cue, and they did. New York was just another tour stop. Only the size of the hall was different.
It was a good set, but toward the end a few people started to rush the stage. One boy grabbed hold of a speaker pedestal, hauled himself up, and crawled onto the stage, right next to John Evan. Two roadies pushed him back off. They started to come faster. Now it seemed as if the whole Garden was running toward the band. Kids gave each other boosts, and managed to reach their hands over the front of the stage and pull themselves up.
"Come on, dammit, quick!" Terry Ellis yelled to the roadies and stagehands.
"Keep them off!"
Anderson was inviting it, motioning to the audience to come to him. And at the same time, Terry Ellis and five or six others were pushing the young ones back down, into the pile of humanity that had lifted them up.
It was getting unpleasant. This wasn't the kind of crowd that used to rush to the stars to get closer. This was the new rock-and-roll crowd. They didn't want the performers, they wanted the stage, they wanted to be a part of this thing. Before long it was out of control. A Garden security official in a coat and tie ran forward to help.
"No, no no!" Terry Ellis yelled. He grabbed the man by the arm and flung him toward the rear of the stage.
"You'll only make things worse!" Ellis yelled. "Let us handle it!"
All the while, Jethro Tull was playing its last number, loud and hard, and the frenzy kept building. It wasn't a friendly thing. Ellis ran to the back of the stage, reached behind a box, and came up with something. At first it was hard to believe it. He had a hammer.
Ellis returned to the front of the stage, now covered with arms and hands. He held the hammer in the air, and many of the young people saw him and dropped away. But some kept coming. Terry Ellis moved along the front of the stage, in front of Anderson. As each set of fingers grasped the stage, he brought the hammer down. The people began dropping off like ticks touched by matches. There was no apparent anger in Ellis; he looked for a pair of hands, aimed his hammer, and that was it. He only had to do it a few times, and then the others got the message.
"I used to hate New York," Ian Anderson shouted to the 23,000, "but I don't no more!"
The Jethro Tull band ran for the dressing room, Terry Ellis put his hammer down, and it was over.