The Jethro Tull leader Ian Anderson inspired a whole generation of musicians with the successful Progressive Rock music the group plays for more than 50 years. In an interview with My Planet Rocks in 2021 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), the musician talked about some of his favorite songs and explained why they are so important to him.
Born in Dunfermline, Scotland back in 1947, Anderson sings, plays the flute, acoustic guitar and many other instruments. He is the author of many Jethro Tull hits like “Aqualung”, “Locomotive Breath” and “Cross-Eyed Mary”.
4 songs that Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson listed as some of his favorites:
Johnny Kid and The Pirates “Shakin’ All Over”
“It was the first song that really grabbed me out of the three-minute pop song stuff. It sounded a bit angry. I remember many years later persuading Van Morrison, who was at a bit of a loose end. So I said, you know, ‘let’s go and record ‘Shakin’ All Over’ and he said ‘yeah, okay’. So we all rehearsed and got everything together.”
“Then for some reason I think he chickened out. We never did do Van Morrison remake of ‘Shakin All Over’. But it would have been great. It was just absolutely the right song for him,” Ian Anderson said.
Led by Johnny Kidd, the group had several hits in the early 60s like “Shakin’ All Over” and “Please Don’t Touch”. Their stage act was theatrical including wearing full pirate costumes (complete with Kidd wearing an eye-patch and wielding a cutlass).
The Animals “House Of The Rising Sun”
“It keeps uncle Eric (Burdon) in some degree of comfort (the success of the song) in his Palm Springs desert retreat. In fact, I played the flute with a string quartet and Eric Burdon.”
“We did ‘House Of The Rising Sun’ on a big German TV show called 50 years of Rock. Eric was in fine voice and again charming person, who I expected to be rather surly and unpleasent. But he was a pretty nice guy,” Ian Anderson said.
Formed in Newcastle in the early 60s, The Animals had other hits like “We Gotta Get Out of This Place”, “It’s My Life” and “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.”
Cream “Tales Of Brave Ulysses”
Right before begining to explain why he chosen this song, Ian Anderson is asked about Cream‘s late drummer Ginger Baker grumpiness and he says: “I guess I performed with his grumpinesss, sadly on one of the very last times. I think he attached himself to a drum kit, which was at the commemorative tribute concert for Jack Bruce, who had passed on the previous year and surprisingly to me, Ginger Baker turned up.”
“Of course Jack and Ginger were just constantly loggerheads in Cream and Eric Clapton, who was the peacemaker, we are told, seemed to be the guy who steadied the ship and he didn’t came along.”
“I was rather dissapointed he didn’t. I think Jack deserved to have Eric there, rather than Ginger, who unfortunately just threw tantrums all the time and stormed often in the finale. Halfway through ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’, he just got off his drum kit and left (laughs). So his grumpiness was in the true to form that day.”
“I mean, I didn’t know Ginger personally. But I had to go and plead with him to just calm down and come back to the drum kit, which he did at half time in the intermission. But then unfortunately at the end he lost it again and threw a big wobbler and off he went. So it wasn’t a great fitting in. But I suppose Jack would have been chuckling in his beard, I think to see Ginger true to form (laughs),” Ian Anderson said.
Foreigner “Head Games”
“I didn’t really know Foreigner, I did get to know Lou Gramm once because I was the instrument of getting him invited onto a big German TV show. He is for me still the all time great, great singer that I could never be. If there was one person whose voice I would love to have been blessed with it, would be Lou Gramm. But of course with an English accent, of course,” Ian Anderson said.
Led by guitarist Mick Jones the English-American band is one of the best selling groups of all time with more than 80 million records sold worldwide.
The youngest of three brothers, Ian Anderson’s family moved to Edinburgh when he was 3. Besides being influenced by his father’s big band and jazz records, Anderson also was in love with Rock music during his youth.
In 1959 when he was 12 his family moved to Blackpool, England, where he studied at the Blackpool Grammar School. Then from 1964 to 1966, he learned fine art at the Blackpool College of Art.