Ian Anderson Would Have Changed Jethro Tull for Tony Iommi
Ian Anderson said he was prepared to change Jethro Tull’s approach to music if future Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi remained part of the band.
Iommi had only recently turned professional as a member of Earth before spending several weeks with Anderson in 1968; he then decided to return to his previous band. He didn’t record with Jethro Tull but was part of the lineup seen in the Rolling Stones’ Rock N’ Roll Circus concert movie.
Soon afterward, Jethro Tull began work on Stand Up, the album that defined their prog sound. But at that point, Anderson told Planet Rock, his band was some distance from settling on a direction.
“We had been very much put into that pigeonhole of being a little old blues band with a slight quirky oddity of having a flute placed in the middle," he said. "It was definitely chalk-and-cheese with what would have happened if Tony had become a permanent member of the band, because his musical style was completely different.”
Noting that “you wouldn't call Tony, then or now, a blues guitarist,” Anderson added: “He didn't do all those licks and play that sort of stuff; he was very monophonic – big single-note things. In the band that he played with, called Earth, who then became subsequently Black Sabbath, he was just so different.”
Had Iommi stayed, “it would have radically changed the way Jethro Tull's music had gone,” Anderson admitted. “It would have changed the way I wrote songs – the batch of songs that became our second album, Stand Up, in 1969. I ran through a couple of things with Tony and it seems it was not his cup of tea, the shape of those songs that I was working on.”
Anderson remembered Iommi as a “great guy,” and admitted to being “enamored of his guitar playing when Earth played with Jethro Tull at some gig in a university. … I just thought, 'Wow, that that guy might well have something to offer.' And indeed he did – he offered it to the world.”
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