The singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ian Anderson helped to form Jethro Tull back in 1967 and since then kept the band going for more than five decades. They are one of the biggest Progressive Rock groups that ever existed and were a huge influence to countless groups that appeared in the following decades.
With classic albums like “Aqualung” (1971) and “Thick As a Brick” (1972), the group became one of the best-selling of all time from that sub-genre, with an estimated amount of more than 60 million records worldwide.
But Anderson’s musical taste was never trapped only into one type of music and he always liked to discover bands that were not like Jethro Tull at all. Curiously he even picked many times as the best singer of all time, a musician that not many people would expect that he likes.
The singer that Ian Anderson said is the best of all time
Active in the music business since the 60s, Ian Anderson had the chance to see the evolution of Rock and Roll up-close. It was especially in the 70s that some of his favorite groups appeared. Trying to hear things that were not very close to what he was doing in Jethro Tull, he discovered many incredible groups.
One of them was Foreigner, formed in New York City in 1976, by American and British musicians. They quickly achieved fame with classic albums released in the late 70s like “Double Vision” (1978) and “Head Games” (1979). Anderson already shared his love for the band multiple times during his career. Even said that their classic singer, Lou Gramm, is the best of all time.
In an interview with Classic Rock in 2023, he picked Gramm as his favorite singer. “Head and shoulders above all rock singers for me is Lou Gramm. Incredible precision and diction. You can hear every word he sings, unlike the majority of singers before and since. He had decorative elements in his delivery that weren’t overdone. Mainly he sang on the beat, in tune and with great emotion,” Ian Anderson said.
One of his favorite Foreigner albums
He is a big fan of the band and was lucky to have met Gramm already. In a conversation with My Planet Rocks (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), he picked the album “Head Games” (1979) as one of his favorite ones. That album doesn’t have the biggest singles the band released but is constantly praised by Anderson.
“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.
“Head Games” is the band’s third album and had famous songs like the title-track, “Dirty White Boy”, “Love on The Telephone” and “Women”. Besides Lou Gramm, at the time the band had Mick Jones, Ian McDonald, Al Greenwood, Rick Wills and Dennis Elliott.
Talking with Spin in 2023, he listed the albums he can’t live without and one of them was Foreigner’s greatest hits album “No End In Sight” (2008). In that conversation he revealed that he discovered the band late and also said he thanks God that Lou Gramm can’t play the flute.
He said that Mick Jagger doesn’t really sing and Bruce Springsteen screams when compared to Gramm
Besides being an incredible multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, Ian Anderson also is a singer and pays close attention to his peers in that category. Talking with Artfuse in 2019, he praised Gramm once again.
“I damaged my vocal cords in 1984. Just basically from overuse. Same thing happened to Lou Gramm, who I think is the best rock singer ever. Mick Jagger doesn’t really sing, he just tosses it out. He always sang well within his range. But he doesn’t put stress on his voice.”
“Some people just shout it out, like Bruce Springsteen. But I have tricky melodies to sing. As I get older I have to work to do what I do. I have to practice every day to keep myself conditioned. I’ve had bronchial infections and now I take preventative medicines to avoid bacteria and viruses. I’m kind of holding my own at the moment. I’m in better shape now than I was four years ago,” Ian Anderson said.
Lou Gramm was part of the group from 1976 to 1990. Coming back from 1992 to 2003 and being a special guest in 2017 and 2018. He was part of all the band’s classic albums in the 70s and 80s. The only album from their discography with another singer is “Can’t Slow Down” released in 2009 that had Kelly Hansen. Hansen is Foreigner’s vocalist since 2005.