With 60 million albums sold and over 2500 concerts played in 40 countries, Jethro Tull continues to record and perform, typically 100 shows to around 300,000 people each year. The band was formed in Luton, England in 1967 when vocalist/flutist Ian Anderson and bassist Glenn Cornick, members of a visiting Blackpool blues group, John Evan's Smash, became acquainted with Mick Abrahams and Clive Bunker. The original lineup made its debut the following spring with Sunshine Day.
A residency at London's famed Marquee club and a sensational appearance at that summer's Sunbury Blues Festival confirmed a growing reputation, while "A Song For Jeffrey," the quartet's first release for the Island Records, introduced a more representative sound. Abrahams' rolling blues licks and Anderson's distinctive, stylized voice combined expertly on This Was - for many, Tull's finest collection. The album reached the UK Top 10, largely on the strength of Tull's live reputation in which the singer played an ever-increasing role.
After personal and musical differences, Abrahams left to form the briefly successful Blodwyn Pig. The remaining Tull boys embarked, with the then-unproven addition of replacement Martin Barre, on the recording of the landmark album Stand Up at the beginning of 1969. Anderson's writing came of age with this album and the influences of classical, jazz, folk and ethnic music forms made the eclectic result an early landmark for the band.
After achieving the Number One position in the UK album charts, Tull began the explosive ascent to U.S. stardom, culminating during the next three years in the cover stories of Time and Rolling Stone magazines, five nights at the Forum in Los Angeles and three nights at Madison Square Garden, New York.
Although Thick As A Brick topped the U.S. chart and reached #5 in the UK, critics began questioning Anderson's reliance on obtuse concepts. The press reviled A Passion Play, damning it as pretentious, impenetrable and the product of an egotist and his neophytes. Anderson retorted by announcing an indefinite retirement, but continued success in America, where the album became Tull's second chart-topper, doubtless appeased his anger.
Too Old To Rock 'N' Roll, Too Young To Die marked the departure of Hammond-Hammond in favor of John Glascock. Subsequent releases reflected a more pastoral sound. However, Glascock's premature death in 1979 during heart surgery ushered in a period of uncertainty, culminating in an internal realignment.
In 1980, Anderson began a projected solo album, retaining Barre and new bass player Dave Pegg, but adding Eddie Jobson and Marc Craney. The finished product, A, was ultimately issued under the Jethro Tull banner and introduced a productive period that saw two more group selections, plus Anderson's solo effort, Walk Into Light, issued within a two-year period.
The loyalty of the long-standing fans and the ongoing enlistment of new converts were to ensure the survival of Tull into the 80s and 90s with Crest of a Knave ('87) and Roots to Branches ('95) being highlights of those decades, together with the Anderson solo flute album Divinities providing the first Billboard Magazine #1 record since 1973.
Since then Jethro Tull have continued to record and perform live, albeit on a lesser scale, using a nucleus of Anderson, Barre and Pegg. In early 2002, Jethro Tull completed their first DVD of live concert and performance material, in conjunction with a live CD. Both are entitled Living With The Past.