AT the age of just 20 years old, Ian Anderson started a band with Mick Abrahams, Clive Bunker and Glen Cornick.

Little did Ian know that they would become one of the world’s most successful and enduring progressive rock bands of the 20th and 21st century - Jethro Tull.

As a teenager, Ian was enthralled by America blues and Jazz. He began his music career playing in a band called the John Evans band. Now, Ian has been performing as part of Jethro Tull for 53 years.

Ian said: “I was a guitar player as a teenager. Watching performers like Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page and realised they were way ahead as guitarists.

“So, I decided to try and find something else rather than live up to them. I traded in my guitar for a flute and vocal microphone.

“For the next four months I couldn’t make a note. Someone told me it was like blowing into a bottle and eventually I got one note, then another and another. Soon I had the blues scale sorted.

“It did look incongruous being a flute player in a blues band, but I tried to make it the equal of the guitar instead of being an instrument used in the background.”

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Today the band consists of Ian, Joe Parish, Scott Hammond, John O’Hara and David Goodier. And Jethro Tull has performed over 4,500 concerts around the world.

He added: “We’ve done so many concerts, I can’t remember all of them. But I do remember the venues: The Albert Hall, Madison Square Garden in New York and an ancient Mediterranean arena in Turkey in 1991, which was a full house.

“Places like this are very special and it is a treat to be able to play a tiny part in a universe of performances.”

A few times Ian has not been nervous about performing but about the technology – particularly when he was working on a musical satellite broadcast with the BBC and the system didn’t work about 20 seconds before they were about to start.

Or the time when he was part of a “space duet” with NASA astronaut Cady Coleman, as many things could have gone wrong. Their performance celebrated 50 years of human spaceflight and the anniversary of the first launch of a human to space.

But the performance was successful and the pair played a portion of the song Bourree, while Cady was 220 miles above the Earth and Ian was on tour in Perm, Russian.

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Ian said: “I was struck by that poignant moment, especially with the military and scientists who worked on the rockets being in the audience. I get to do so many different types of performances. From the cheap and cheerful ones to the more serious ones.”

Now, Ian Anderson is taking part in a few evenings on tour entitled Ian Anderson on Jethro Tull. This is an intimate evening of performance and chat with archive video footage covering his career and the history of Jethro Tull. Current guitarist Joe Parish will accompany Ian on this tour.

Ian added: “These shows do depend on making them rehearsed and interesting, yet also off the cuff and spontaneous, so I don’t want to rehearse too much as I want to make the audience feel involved and get them to talk.

“I am inviting the audience to question me. I will be their Boris if they are my Andrew Neil!”

Ian Anderson on Jethro Tull will be at Westlands in Yeovil on Monday, April 20.

To find out more or to book visit or