The 5 Progressive Rock bands Ian Anderson said he likes
Born in Dunfermline, Scotland back in 1947, Ian Anderson first achieved fame as the leader of Jethro Tull that became one of the most successful and influential Progressive Rock bands of all time. The group sold an estimated amount of 60 million records worldwide since their debut in 1968.
Over the decades Anderson talked about many of his peers and revealed which artists he liked. Rock and Roll Garage selected the 5 Progressive Rock bands that Ian Anderson said he liked and explained why he praised them.
The 5 Progressive Rock bands Ian Anderson said he likes
One of the most important Progressive Rock bands of all time, Pink Floyd was also a big influence to Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull, especially in the early days. Talking with Classic Rock back in 2021, Anderson listed the 10 albums that changed his life and one of them was Floyd’s debut “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” (1967). That record is credited by many musicians as the one that really started Prog Rock.
“There were two seminal albums in 1967 that carved a path for people like me in the progressive pop context. One was The Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper‘, of course. The other was an altogether more surreal and proggy affair, Pink Floyd’s ‘Piper at the Gates of Dawn’. Both albums took elements from lots of different sources and used them in colorful, creative ways.”
“For me, the Pink Floyd album had more meaning. The Beatles were a pop group. So I thought their stuff was a bit contrived, a bit twee. I liked the singer-songwriter element to Floyd more. Syd Barrett’s songs were strange and funny. They perfectly complemented the radical, druggy instrumental stuff the band did. You saw pictures and presented them with words and sound, rather than as paintings,” Ian Anderson said.
Ian Anderson was part of the Pink Floyd tribute album “Back Against the Wall” (2005), that paid tribute to the classic album “The Wall” (1979). The Jethro Tull leader covered the track “The Thin Ice”.
Another Progressive Rock band that Ian Anderson praised during his career was the short-lived group The Nice, famous for having the late legendary keyboardist Keith Emerson as a founding-member. They were active from 1967 to 1970 and in 2002. Their only 3 studio albums were released in the late 60s: “The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack” (1968), “Ars Longa Vita Brevis”(1968) and “Nice” (1969).
Talking with Planet Rock in 2020, Anderson listed the 4 songs that were some of his favorites of all time and explained the reason why. One of them was The Nice’s “America”. “The Nice were contemporaries of ours at the Marquee Club when we first got a residency there. They were quite well established at that point.”
“Indeed I was quite captivated not only by the showmanship of Keith Emerson, who obviously had some considarable chops as a Jazz and Classical pianist. But the band as a whole: Blinky Davison, the drummer and Brian, singer and bass player. He was a bit of an unsung hero of The Nice. I always thought he had a certain charm. Plus he was the only one that really communicated anything. The others were pretty much silent,” Ian Anderson said.
What Ian Anderson said about Keith Emerson’s tragic death
Emerson tragically died back in 2016 at the age 71 and Anderson talked about the artist in a radio interview (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage) just a few days after his passing. “I’m reasonably fortunate that at my age I still have a certain amount of physical skill to incorporate the technique successfully on stage. So my hands have not yet frozen up. I don’t have any injuries. Any sort of industrial injuries from playing the flute, like a lot of flute players do get apparentaly.”
“I’m in reasonably good shape. So I have not yet encountered that phase when things physically become very difficult to do. Unlike of course, poor Keith Emerson who we all know, the last few days sadly seem to have taken the decision to end it because of his frustration I guess of not being able to do what he used to be able to do. Indeed, when Emerson, Lake & Palmer toured with us in 1997, Keith was having a hard time.”
“I mean, he said to me: ‘I can only do 45 minutes at a stretch. Otherwise my hand is so sore and then next day I can’t play at all’. He was suffering in some of the nights on that tour. You could see he was in pain. That’s a difficult thing. I mean, that was in 97. Imagine how much it worse it must have got since then. So I feel terrible for people who are losing that ability and perhaps almost frightened to get out there and do it. Because they know they can’t deliver what they used to deliver,” Ian Anderson said.
King Crimson is another Prog Rock group that first appeared in the late 60s that Ian Anderson likes. In the same conversation with Planet Rock (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage) in 2020, he chose Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” as one of his favorite songs of all time.
“It sits very well next to The Nice. Because at that time at the Marquee Club, King Crimson also began to play that year, 1969, and released an album, which had that track on it.”
“These were poignant times.’21st Century Schizoid Man’ was one of those things that erupted at the stage of the Marquee Club and of the grooves of your vinyl LP. In a way that it had an angry, impassioned outporing lyrically. In terms of guitar playing too. So it’s a great track and remains one to this day,” Ian Anderson said.
Formed in London back in 1968 by Robert Fripp, Michael Giles, Greg Lake, Ian McDonald and lyricist Peter Sinfield, King Crimson remains as one of the most respected Progressive Rock bands in history.
Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Yes
The supergroup Emerson, Lake & Palmer was a band that had Keith Emerson (Ex-The Nice) and Greg Lake (Ex-King Crimson), musicians from two groups that Anderson already liked. He even said in an interview with Vintage Rock back in 2002 that the group, alongside Yes, King Crimson and Genesis were the “Big Four of Progressive Rock”.
In a conversation with Something Else! in 2014. he praised ELP and Yes. “I personally think the world is a better place for having Emerson Lake and Palmer and Yes, because their music was quite elevated. Great tunes and some innovative playing.”
“But, of course, it was to many people a bit excessive. I think some writers and some musicians found it pompous. Because they were displaying their technical skills as musicians sometimes in a way that made them seem like party showoffs,” Ian Anderson said.
Anderson had the chance to tour with ELP in 1997 when they were on the road with Jethro Tull.