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13 June 1970
TAKING THE EASY WAY OUT
The news came very quietly. No ballyhoo, no boozy receptions. Just a murmur. Jethro Tull had added a pianist/organist. His name was John Evan, a friend of Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson from way back. He had been with Ian when J.Tull was just a twinkle in Mr Anderson's eye. And since then John Evan had been a student and had helped out on piano during the group's recording sessions.
It had all happened with J.Tull's startling rise to world fame. Formed at the beginning of 1968 as a small-time blues band, Tull won its audience the hard way — by playing in every club, university, college and concert they could get to. It seemed to work. Eight months after they started they were an established British name.
And then of course came the big split. Ian and Mick Abrahams, the lead guitarist, decided to go their own ways — Ian with J.Tull and Mick Abrahams with his own band, Blodwyn Pig. But after those hassles were straightened out, J.Tull went on to prove their world class by becoming one of the biggest rock attractions. It seemed overnight success. But it wasn't that sudden, of course. Things had evolved and the band had left their basic blues material as merely a base for their own, highly individual, Ian Anderson songs. And it was that striking individualism which made it for Jethro Tull.
But one thing was missing. On record Tull had the advantage of an organist and pianist. His name was John Evan and sooner or later he had to join the group. So now they're a quintet on their present American tour. Speaking from New York, John Evan said:
"The tour's going really well. I've never been on tour before, of course, but things seem to be going well. A couple of weeks ago I was arrested, however. A nice policeman arrested me when I was trying to get to the group. It was just like the movies."
I asked when he met Ian.
"I suppose it was about 11 years ago when we were at school together in the North of England. When Jethro was formed I did a few recording sessions with them and more recently I've recorded piano on their album. But without making changes the group would have been impossible. The easiest way was to add a piano — otherwise they'd have had a drastic job to alter the entire music. The thing is that Jethro have progressed as far as they can without adding piano."
The first opportunity British audiences will have to see the new, super-improved Tull will be next Friday when the band will be playing a charity concert in London. "I'm looking forward to that," commented John.
Many thanks to Glenn Cornick for this article