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11 October 1980
THE MAN WHO CAME TO GUEST ON IVORIES
At 25 with nine years' experience as one of rock's most exciting keyboardists, Eddie Jobson was a great capture for the new-look Jethro Tull. But he emphasises that he will remain in the band only until next April, at the end of its world tour.
Jobson says he originally agreed to guest with Ian on the album and one thing led to another; it happened at the time he was winding up his band UK, a lively and promising band which was on the verge of crashing through into wide popularity.
With Bill Bruford at the drums at one stage and John Wetton on guitar, UK had the thumbs up from a lot of followers. And after his years with Roxy Music and Frank Zappa, even Jobson believes for a while that he had perhaps casually devised a winning combination.
Confirming that the band had split, Eddie said:
"One of the problems, apart from the usual band politics, was that as experienced players we didn't have that pressure a young band would have. A lot of them have to stay together because they can't do anything else. We didn't have that trouble — we all had record contracts waiting for solo work, or session work, or solo projects, if we wanted to do them.
"So there was with UK an uncomfortable quality. Somebody wanted to do pop songs, somebody wanted to do progressive things. All the usual reasons for a band splitting were there in UK.
"We were doing well in America and Japan, and for a while I thought it was going to be big. It ran for three years, anyway, and for me it was like the start of my career — everything before it was an apprenticeship."
What finally sealed UK's fate was the dawn of a new decade, and Eddie's realisation that in the Seventies it was
"too old-fashioned. Everybody was re-evaluating what they were going to do over the next ten years and I didn't see that UK had a future. The music was very Seventies."
And so Ian Anderson's offer to guest on his album and do a major tour came at the right time for Jobson. He continues to live in Connecticut, USA, and is fiercely ambitious.
"I was saying to Ian the other night that I've been doing the professional big circuit in big bands like Zappa or Roxy — but always on somebody else's back. Now I'm off again with Jethro Tull, and it's time I sat down and planned my career properly.
"The period with Ian Anderson is not permanent. I know what will happen when I leave by next April — people will think I'm being stupid and say I can't hold a job down. It's simply that I don't want a permanent association with something that is considered fairly old-fashioned, even though it is updating itself. I think that's a negative thing, and the very reason I disbanded UK."
He says he has not adopted any of the established Jethro Tull style, but is committed solely to bringing the sharp Eddie Jobson keyboard style to a band that needed injecting with new ideas.
"I've always been able to fit in with whatever's going on. In the past, I've joined bands and had to play a little on the leader's terms, but this time half the reason I was invited was because Ian wanted me to come in as myself and offer a new dimension. A free hand! No holds barred! None of the Ye Olde Englande olde worlde Jethro Tull thing. I couldn't have gone along with that. I just don't like looking back too much.
"I don't think a rock musician can afford to. I'm 25. That's getting on. It's going to be hard when I finish the Jethro Tull thing and perhaps go back to being the second rung on the ladder, playing maybe the 200-seater clubs, trying to build up as if I didn't exist before. But I've got to come to terms with it.
"I owe it to myself to try to achieve something on my own without the protection of a big name."