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Ian Anderson’s opinion on The Beatles

Ian Anderson


Ian Anderson’s opinion on The Beatles

Born in Dunfermline, Scotland in 1947, the singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ian Anderson has been the leader and only constant member of Jethro Tull for almost six decades. He helped to form the band in 1967, becoming their main songwriter and was a crucial part of their sound, making them one of the most influential and successful Progressive Rock groups of all time.


Over the decades he talked about many other groups, including The Beatles. But curiously, he is really not a big fan of the Fab Four.

What is Ian Anderson’s opinion on The Beatles

It’s really rare to find a musician who started their careers especially in the 60s and 70s, who didn’t like The Beatles. But Anderson is not really a big fan of them, although he recognizes how important they were.

In an interview with Indeflagration back in 2017, he was asked which was his favorite Beatles album. He then answered: “Wow, you got me there because I was never really a Beatles fan. I suppose it would be ‘Sgt Pepper’s’. Because of the landmark it represented in pop music and rather like in the same year, Pink Floyd’s ‘The Piper at the Gates of Dawn’.”

“They were the life-changing musical moments for a generation. Although I wasn’t a Beatles fan, I guess I learnt something from Sgt. Pepper’s in terms of variety, of the rather surreal nature of it, that was quite laudable. George Martin was a friend of mine (I didn’t know the Beatles at all). His role in all of that is very important.”

He continued:

“I like to think of Sgt. Pepper’s as the album that could not have been made with another producer, it had to be George. He was Beatles no.5, he was actually probably Beatles no.3! He was a very special guy and helped to bring together those very opposite personalities and musical backgrounds,” Ian Anderson said.

As the musician said, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” released in 1967, same year Tull was formed, was crucial for the birth of Progressive Rock. Alongside Pink Floyd’s debut record, the album made by The Beatles also showed how you could experiment with music. It was possibile to do things which were never done before in the studio.

Why Ian Anderson preferred John Lennon over Paul McCartney

The most famous and successful songwriting partnership of all time was certainly between John Lennon and Paul McCartney. As The Beatles’ main songwriters, both of them wrote most of their biggest hits. So obviously, they were a huge influence to countless artists worldwide in terms of songwriting.

Although he is not a huge Beatles fan, Anderson said once in an interview with Classic Rock in 2021, that he preferred John Lennon. “When I was schoolboy I was always attracted to John Lennon above the others, by a long way. Paul McCartney seemed to be the cheerful, cherubic, slightly wet character in the line-up as if the band had had a Cliff Richard transplant.”

“But John had attitude, a sense of disdain. (Especially) when it came to being groomed and made to dress in matching suits. The first time I saw pictures of The Beatles in Hamburg, it struck me that here was Lennon in his natural habitat. Leather-clad, greasy of quiff and with an air of menace. Photographs of that period are arguably more iconic than almost any subsequent images of the band.”

He continued:

“Hamburg was a rude awakening for many English musicians, a dark place full of aggressive sailors, shifty characters, and prostitutes. But in many ways The Beatles were primed for it, coming from a seaport themselves. These weren’t young boys from leafy Surrey. Lennon in particular, you expect, was already familiar with the wrong side of the tracks in Liverpool. He would have felt perfectly at home among the dinginess and squalor.

“In terms of what they faced at the likes of the Star Club or the Kaiserkeller. Lennon, at least, you’d think, was more than able to handle himself. Perhaps act as a protector of the others, the very young George Harrison in particular,” Ian Anderson said.

During more than five decades active, Jethro Tull has released 23 studio albums. They have sold an estimated amount of more than 60 million records worldwide. What makes them one of the most influential Progressive Rock groups in the history of music.

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