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18 January 1969


Guitarist Mick Abrahams has left Jethro Tull. He has been replaced by Martin Barre. Aged 22, he is an ex-member of Gethsemene and played his first with Jethro Tull at Penzance at the end of December.

Why has Mick Abrahams left? Ian Anderson explained:

"The main reason was a conflict of musical ideas. He wanted to continue playing the same sort of things we have been doing. And the rest of us wanted to progress and try new material. Presumably, Mick will form his own group."

When a group wants a replacement member, they can go about it two ways. Either they have somebody already in mind, or else they audition. The latter was the case with Jethro Tull.

"We auditioned loads of people, but none of them fitted," Ian told me. "Some of them didn't have much of a clue. There was one guy who came early and stayed almost all day. After each new guitarist had gone he would start playing again. He really wanted the job but it was a bit sad really.

"Then we had another guy who you could almost call a professional auditioner. He came in and tried to take everyone over, saying 'let's do so and so'. The trouble was, we didn't know the numbers he was playing, apart from the fact they were rock 'n' roll things. After he had finished, he said 'must go now — I've got another audition to go to.' The following day when I woke up the audition seemed just like a bad dream.

"One of the troubles with most British blues guitarists is that they seem to have come from rock 'n' roll through out-and-out pop to blues, and have taken the easy way out. In the main, they play in a very tight style. Not many of them have a natural looseness in their playing."

Ian confessed to not knowing many tunes.

"It can be a bit embarrassing at times," he confided. "People come up to me and ask for a certain number and I have to plead ignorance. The main reason why I don't know many numbers is because I don't listen to many things — I base my playing on my emotions."

You will be seeing Jethro Tull on TV soon in the Rolling Stones' show. I asked Ian what the show was like.

"I think it was a good idea initially," he replied, "but it was badly produced and badly run. I felt it was just thrown together. With a little more time and planning it would have been much better."

I asked Ian what actually happened on the show.

"It's all set in a circus arena," Ian replied. "It starts with everyone coming on playing. Then the Stones introduce all their guests. We were going to play three numbers originally, but due to time commitments we only did one. It was 'Song For Jeffrey'. The Stones picked all their guests, like: Eric Clapton, Marianne Faithful, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Keith Moon, Pete Townshend, etc.

"Although I'm a great admirer of the Stones, they're poor musicians. They played on their show and were awful — they couldn't get together at all. I was disappointed with them musically because they are my idols. You could find any other five musicians who are better than them. Mick Jagger has really mastered the sort of thing he does, but Brian Jones just can't play. The group's timing is all messed-up. But in spite of this, the Stones have a great presence and can communicate to their listeners. To sum them up in two words — they're delightfully bad.

"The sort of music I listen to is records by people like Ornette Coleman, Roland Kirk, and a few more modern jazz players. But you have to REALLY listen to find out what they are doing. When it comes to listening to a Rolling Stones record, it makes me feel that everything is all right and I am home and there is no trouble anywhere."

It seems at last that Jethro Tull are becoming recognized nationally if their chart entry with 'Love Story' is anything to go by. Plans are already afoot for them to do a Stateside tour for two months, commencing the end of this month. So things look pretty good.

After Ian had, to a certain extent, put down the Stones, he said as we parted:

"Well, I'm off to buy the Stones' 'Beggars Banquet' album. I love them really, you know!"



Thanks to Mike Wain for this article, and Gerrit de Geus for confirmation of source and publication date.