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NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS
22 November 1969
JETHRO NO ONE-MAN BAND!
While the world is coming to love or loathe the eccentricities of Ian Anderson, they've been a little slow in recognising the existence of Glenn Cornick, Martin Barre and Clive Bunker who, as devotees of the group won't need telling, are as much Jethro Tull as Ian is.
Disc jockeys like Alan Freeman who ought to know better than to describe their act in a Top Of The Pops rehearsal as 'Mr Jethro Tull', and the BBC officials who persist on sticking the same label on their dressing rooms at Lime Grove, don't help to enlighten the masses. Nor do the cameramen who focus so much on Ian that if an ear, top of a head or wayward arm is fleetingly glimpsed on screen it is more by accident than design.
On the other hand, while they all get a bit upset about the 'Mr Jethro Tull' bit, Glenn, Martin and Clive are quite content to cede the mantle of Tull soothsayer to Ian in the sustaining knowledge that when it comes down to the real business of the group, the music and stage performances, their contribution can never be in question.
"I've done just two interviews since I've been in the group,"
affirmed Martin when we talked in the Lime Grove canteen.
"But none of us mind that. The kind of things Ian has to answer and talk about, all that analysis and comment, I wouldn't care to do that anyway."
Glenn nodded his headbanded head in agreement.
I had hauled the two of them off to the canteen after a run through in the studio of Jethro Tull's 'Sweet Dream'.
Ian, whose outrageousness increases with every visit to the BBC, was in good form — his hair in bunches tied on either side with pieces of string, a strange knitted hat he found in Scotland on his head and wearing one of his famous overcoats, one side of which had been completely ripped away leaving the remains hanging in tatters.
"It got torn at the concert in Dublin,"
Ian replied to arranger David Palmer's enquiries.
"Wait till you get a No.1 LP and it will happen to you,"
he grinned through his beard.
In the canteen Martin was recounting how he was chosen from 70 other hopefuls in auditions to find a replacement when Mick Abrahams left Jethro Tull to form Blodwyn Pig. As well as guitar, he played flute and sax with his former group.
"I wanted a job as a guitarist," he recalled, "but it wasn't easy. The group said that if I got a sax and learnt to play then I could join."
"I bought the sax on a Saturday and was playing it with the band on Monday."
Glenn wasn't to be outdone.
"I once played bass for Tony Blackburn,"
he announced, pausing to note the effect of his statement before adding that it happened some time ago in Blackpool when Blackburn was still with Radio Caroline.
"I was really frightened at first when I joined Jethro Tull," continued Martin. "I thought I was an average or maybe slightly above average musician but I soon learned my shortcomings and it was pretty shattering. I discovered that I had been sitting back for the previous two years. At first with Jethro Tull I really had to force myself to play well. It took me a long time to get any confidence in myself."
Glenn broke in:
"The sixth or seventh gig Martin played was the Fillmore East. We had been used to things getting bigger but it completely overawed us ... and Martin had only been with us for ten days. After the kind of places he had been playing it must have been really mind-shattering."
The arrival of fame and fortune for Jethro Tull has had no apparent effects on the outlook of its members. Ian was telling me a few weeks back that he still lives in the same £3 5s a week bedsitter in Kentish Town and, like the rest of the band, draws just £30 a week spending money from the group's earnings.
On the fame side, both find the adulation strange and discomforting.
"I cannot grasp being thought of as a personality — which I will never be," said Martin. "I am just a musician and I only relate Jethro Tull to music. Emotionally that sort of thing means as much to me as eating a boiled egg."
"I find it very difficult now to talk to people outside music. There are things the group does without thinking that other people think of as big things. People introduce you to their friends — this is so-and-so who you may have seen on Top Of The Pops — and it's like being in a zoo. Maybe they want a little of your supposed fame to rub off on them. Whatever it is, it is very embarrassing."
Both Martin and Glenn feel that Jethro Tull's policy of restricting future appearances to concert tours is best for the public and the group. Said Glenn:
"Concert halls are the only places where everybody gets a good deal — the public gets good music in comfortable conditions for a reasonable amount of money, the group has good playing conditions.
"You can get nostalgic about the good times but when you think of all the aggro ... the stages too small to get the equipment on ... having to change in corridors. Personally if I was going to see a group I would rather go to a concert than stand at the back of some sweaty club and just catch a glimpse of the guitarist's head."
Thanks to Matthew Korn for this article