IAN ANDERSON Biography - Musicians


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Name: Ian Anderson                                                                       
Birth name: Ian Scott Anderson                                                           
Born: 10 August 1947 Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland                                         
Ian Scott Anderson (born 10 August 1947 in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland) is               
a Scottish singer, songwriter, guitarist, and flautist, best known for his work           
as the head of British rock band Jethro Tull.                                             
Ian Anderson was born the son of a hotel manager. He spent the first part of his         
childhood in Edinburgh, an influence which has dominated his artistic output             
ever since. He would return much later in life to live in Scotland for several           
His family moved to Blackpool in the North West of England in 1959, where he             
gained a traditional grammar school education before going on to study fine art.         
Much of his work referring to this period suggests a somewhat turbulent                   
While a teenager, Anderson took a job as a sales assistant at Lewis' department           
store in Blackpool, then as a vendor on a newsstand. He later said it was                 
reading copies of Melody Maker and the New Musical Express during his lunch               
breaks that gave him the inspiration to play in a band.                                   
In 1963, he formed The Blades from among school friends: Barriemore Barlow (drums),       
John Evan (keyboards), Jeffrey Hammond (bass) and Michael Stephens (guitar).             
This was a soul and blues band, with Anderson on vocals and harmonica - he had           
yet to take up the flute.                                                                 
By 1965, the group had turned into the John Evan Smash, comprising a larger line-up.     
It broke up within a couple of years, by which time Anderson had moved to Luton.         
There he met drummer Clive Bunker and guitarist and fellow vocalist Mick                 
Abrahams from fellow blues band McGregor's Engine. Along with Glenn Cornick, a           
bassist he had met through John Evan, he created the first incarnation of the             
band with which he was to stay for over 40 years: Jethro Tull.                           
At this time Anderson abandoned his ambition to play electric guitar, and as he           
himself tells it in the introduction to the video "Live at the Isle of Wight",           
he traded it in for a flute which, after some weeks of practice, he found he             
could play fairly well in a rock and blues style. According to the sleeve notes           
for the first Tull album, "This Was", he had been playing the flute only a few           
months when the album was recorded. His guitar practice was not wasted either,           
as he continued to play acoustic guitar, becoming one of the few recording               
artists outside the classical realm to use the acoustic guitar as a melodic,             
rather than a rhythm instrument. As his career progressed, he added soprano               
saxophone, mandolin, keyboards and other instruments to his arsenal.                     
His famous tendency to stand on one leg while playing the flute came about by             
accident. As related in the "Isle of Wight" video, he had been inclined to stand         
on one leg while playing the harmonica, holding the microphone stand for balance.         
During the long stint at the Marquee Club, a journalist described him, wrongly,           
as standing on one leg to play the flute. He decided to live up to the                   
reputation, albeit with some difficulty. His early attempts are visible in the "Rock     
and Roll Circus" film appearance of Jethro Tull. In later life he was surprised           
to learn of iconic portrayals of various flute playing divinities, particularly           
Krishna and Kokopelli, which show them standing on one leg.                               
While Anderson has recorded a small number of critically-acclaimed projects               
under his own name, and frequently makes guest appearances in other artists'             
work, he has been identified in the public eye as the frontman of Jethro Tull             
for nearly 40 years.                                                                     
This is undoubtedly because a signature motif of Anderson's career has been a             
highly distinctive stage image, which has often been counter to the prevailing           
rock music culture. While he has habitually drawn inspiration from British               
folklore - at different times deploying stylistic elements of Medieval jester,           
Elizabethan minstrel, English country squire and Scottish laird - at other times         
he has appeared as astronaut, biker, pirate and vagrant. His personae often               
involve a large degree of self-parody.                                                   
Ian Anderson plays the Orchestral Jethro Tull - in Butzbach (Germany) 6. June             
As a flautist, Anderson is self-taught; his style, which often includes a good           
deal of flutter tonguing and occasionally singing or humming (or even snorting)           
while playing, was influenced by Roland Kirk. In 2003 he recorded a composition           
called Griminelli's Lament in honour of his friend, the Italian flautist Andrea           
Griminelli. In the 1990s he began working with simple bamboo flutes. He uses             
techniques such as over-blowing and hole-shading to produce note-slurring and             
other expressive techniques on this otherwise simple instrument.                         
Anderson plays several other musical instruments, including acoustic and                 
electric guitar, bass guitar, bouzouki, balalaika, saxophone, harmonica, and a           
variety of whistles.                                                                     
He has recorded several songs on which he plays all the instruments as well as           
carrying out all the engineering and production (such as 1988's "Another                 
Christmas Song"). His earliest foray into one-man recording was apparently on             
the popular Tull piece "Locomotive Breath". Unable to get his ideas across to             
the rest of the band verbally, he laid down percussion and guitar tracks himself         
before adding vocals and then bringing in the others, at a time when tracks were         
usually recorded with all band members in the studio. Ironically this is one of           
the most vital pieces on the 1971 Aqualung album and is a mainstay of Tull's             
stage show.                                                                               
Anderson's music blends styles such as folk, jazz, blues, rock and pop. His               
lyrics are frequently complex, (mostly) tongue-in-cheek criticism of the absurd           
rules of society and/or religion ("Sossity, You're a Woman"; "Hymn 43"; "Thick           
as a Brick"). He often combines lyrics with other leitmotifs such as folk,               
mythological, fantastic ("The Minstrel in the Gallery", "Jack-in-the-Green", "Broadsword 
and the Beast"). In the 1990s and 2000s, Anderson's songs often capture 'snapshots'       
of his daily life ("Old Black Cat", "Rocks on the Road").