The hey-day for Jethro Tull would have to be the 1970s, though I always thought they got a lot more airplay after the classic rock stations began to form in the late 80s. They sort of peaked as an active band, and then peaked again with a trace of nostalgia a few years on down the road, not that they’ve ever stopped touring. It just seems that their biggest hits really took off a little after the fact.
Back in the early 80s when I was in high school, most of my classmates had no idea who these guys were. The only people that did know about Tull seemed to be the metal-heads, which was a little odd, because Jethro Tull was hardly a metal band. They had one album that could be called hard rock, and that was Aqualung, but the rest was hard to classify. Today folks tend to call it ‘prog rock’. In any event, for those that do know about them, Jethro Tull has always been known for one thing, the way that front man, Ian Anderson, played the flute. The flute is more than a little unusual for a rock band of any sub-genre. Oh sure, folks may add it to a tune here and there, but to have a band incorporate it as a standard instrument throughout their entire body of work. Well that was weird. The instrument absolutely defined the band. In any event, I’ve been a well-hooked fan ever since first hearing my older sister’s 8-track of Songs from the Wood.
…which is why I found this story to be so damned interesting. You see, in this interview (and a few others), Ian Anderson explains how he learned the proper fingering technique for playing the flute.
And a little sample…