Quora: Why is Jethro Tull not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

Why is Jethro Tull not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

(Answered by Sandro Kovalev)

Mostly it’s because of politics…the nominating commitee (or inner circle, if you will) of this institution doesn’t like Jethro Tull, or any other band who went above and beyond what they consider to be rock and roll. That weirdo Jann Wenner (who I believe is the president of the HOF, or chairman or whatever), has made his bias against certain genres quite clear…him and his HOF committee generally do not like the more complex, esoteric rock offshoots such as prog rock, electronic, or heavy metal.

Most rock journalists like Wenner and Robert Christgau believe those styles are a betrayal of what true rock and roll is meant to be, which in their minds means working-class, rebellious, danceable, and unintellectual. With that said, Genesis, Yes, Rush, and the Moody Blues have all been inducted in recent years – probably not because Wenner and his cronies have newfound respect for prog, more likely it’s because these bands have topped fan polls year after year, to the point where the committee realized how out-of-touch they were by continuing to weaponize their personal biases in order to keep these groups from being inducted.

Tull have been eligible for decades and haven’t even ever been nominated, but along with King Crimson and possibly Kansas, they are the only other big name holdovers from the prog era that still has an outside shot (unfortunately I don’t see ELP getting the nod even though they deserve it, and most of the other acts like Gentle Giant and Van Der Graaf Generator are not well-known outside of prog circles).

Anyway, while I’m sure Ian, Martin and Co would appreciate the temporary boost in interest that comes from being inducted, and many fans want their favorite band to be recognized, does it really matter if Tull has the seal of approval from that group of dunces over at the HOF? With some of the nonsense they’ve been inducting in recent years, it might be better to not be inducted.

Songs You May Have Missed #718

Maddy Prior: “Gutter Geese” (1978)

From Maddy Prior’s 1978 Ian Anderson-produced solo album Woman in the Wings comes this cheery Britfolk-flavoured ditty.

And yes, that’s Ian Anderson taking the flute solo here, making the instrumental bit sound very much like a Songs From the Wood-era Jethro Tull outtake–and that’s a good thing indeed.

If Maddy’s distinctive voice and Olde English folk sound appeal to you but you’ve never heard Steeleye Span, the links below will turn the key to a whole new world for you.

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2013/05/08/recommended-albums-47/

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2012/10/18/songs-you-may-have-missed-200/

Video of the Week: Ian Anderson on Getting Old, His Aging Voice & The Great Lou Gramm

What happened the night Jethro Tull beat Metallica to a Grammy Award

(via Classic Rock) by Johnny Black

When prog rockers Jethro Tull pipped Metallica to win Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Recording award in 1989, most in the audience started laughing. Some of them haven’t stopped

n 1989, in an attempt to show they were at least attempting to be ‘down with the kids’, the Grammys introduced a new category: Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Recording. All good so far.

However, on February 22, when Metallica, Iggy Pop, Jane’s Addiction and the year’s other major contenders in the new category showed up for the Grammy Awards ceremony at The Shrine in Los Angeles, none of them could possibly have expected that, when award presenter Alice Cooper opened the envelope and began “And the winner is…” the award for Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Recording of 1989 would go to a folksy, flute- fronted prog rock band: the decidedly non-metal, far from hard-rocking Jethro Tull.

Yes, you can laugh. Many there on the night certainly did…

Read more: What happened the night Jethro Tull beat Metallica to a Grammy Award | Louder (loudersound.com)

Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson: My Life in 10 Songs

As the pioneering prog rockers celebrate their 50th anniversary with a tour and new box set, their leader reflects on the tracks that defined them

(via Rolling Stone) by Kory Grow

For Ian Anderson – prog rocker extraordinaire and the world’s best one-legged-stance flautist, bar none – a half-century career in music is no remarkable feat. “It’s not any particularly novel or unusual occurrence,” the Jethro Tull leader says nonchalantly through his dry British accent. “This year marks the anniversary of many other bands who did things around the same period of time. King Crimson started in 1968. So did Yes, Rush and Deep Purple. And of course it’s Led Zeppelin’s 50th anniversary too. So there we go.”

But what he fails to acknowledge is that none of those bands, no matter how out-there they got, were able to blend their hard-rock aspirations with the same levels of pomp, guile or unapologetic pretension as Jethro Tull. None scored FM-radio gold singing lyrics like “Lend me your ear while I call you a fool” (“The Witch’s Promise”) or by writing a 44-minute, tongue-in-cheek prog-rock song (“Thick as a Brick,” presented in two parts on the original LP and packaged in a fake newspaper) or by playing frilly flute solos over Renaissance-inspired folk-rock (“Songs From the Wood”).

In their 50 years, Jethro Tull have notched an astounding 15 gold or platinum albums in the U.S., as well as two Number One LPs. Their most famous song, “Aqualung,” has a guitar riff that’s as cutting and memorable as “Iron Man” and “Smoke on the Water,” and their music has influenced Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Porcupine Tree, Pearl Jam and Nick Cave, among others. Yet the band has not yet been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the only time it has won a Grammy was in the Hard Rock/Metal category – a concept that seemed so preposterous to Anderson that he didn’t bother to show up…

Read more: Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson: My Life in 10 Songs – Rolling Stone

Unpopular Opinion: Prince Lowered the Bar for Sexual Innuendo in Music

While I can appreciate a titillating suggestive lyric in a pop song, I believe even the low-minded can be artfully rendered. And I’d argue that the man most associated with lyrical sexual innuendo was hardly its most literate or proficient practitioner.

Prolific? I’ll give him that. It’s almost be simpler to name the Prince songs that don’t feature bawdy double entendre than it is to give examples of his, uh…dirty mind. I won’t bother.

Popular? A hundred million sold, as McDonald’s used to say.

I’m just here to say he sucked at it.

So if you think

Get on top
You will cop
Don’t you stop
Sh-boogie bop

…is as high-minded as lowbrow gets, I’ll see your Purple One and raise you one Ian Anderson, front man of English art rockers Jethro Tull.

Singer-songwriter-flutist-guitarist and all around mischief maker Anderson rose to the occasion when it came to penning innuendo-laced lyrics, then set them in some of the most ambitiously ornate musical arrangements you’ll hear.

If his mind was in the gutter, his oldfangled English was strictly front parlor. His command of the language turned innuendo into high art. Check out “Hunting Girl” from 1977’s Songs from the Wood:

Pop-lifting (Part 1): Eagles, Beatles, Beach Boys and Their Stolen Music

stand upparker


The other day I got into my car and the first thing I did–just like I was taught in Driver’s Ed class–was to check the CD player. As I switched the function from radio to CD and landed on track 3 where I’d left off listening, I heard parts of Ben Harper’s ‘Steal My Kisses’ and Belle & Sebastian’s ‘If She Wants Me’ back to back. It sounded a little like this:


A weird coincidence only, most likely. But It did get me thinking about some of the more heinous song-on-song crimes that have been perpetrated throughout the years. I’m talking about artists lifting musical ideas from other artists without necessarily giving credit where it’s due. I’m talking about the scandal of Pop-lifting…


‘Ghostbusters’ by Ray Parker Jr. lifted from ‘I Want a New Drug’ by Huey Lewis

The producers of the film Ghostbusters approached Lindsay Buckingham to write a theme song based on his successful contribution of ‘Holiday Road’ to National Lampoon’s Vacation. When Buckingham declined Ray Parker Jr. took the job and wrote the ‘Ghostbusters’ theme. He was promptly sued by Huey Lewis, whose hit ‘I Want a New Drug’ had been a hit earlier that same year and sounded eerily like ‘Ghostbusters’ (ok maybe not ‘eerily’ but still…).

The two settled out of court, with Columbia Pictures paying a settlement to Huey Lewis. The details of this settlement were to remain confidential and were until Lewis made comment about his payment on an episode of VH1’s Behind the Music. Parker then sued Lewis for breach of confidentiality.

What’s really weird is that the bass line the two songs share that made them so similar, is also quite similar to that of M’s ‘Pop Muzik’, a number one hit in late 1979.

Here’s an excellent mashup showing why Ray Parker got Ghostbusted:


‘Come Together’ by The Beatles lifted from ‘You Can’t Catch Me’ by Chuck Berry

‘Come Together’ is pretty much a slowed down, heavier version of Chuck Berry’s ‘You Can’t Catch Me’ with different lyrics–mostly.

The song got John Lennon sued by Big Seven Music Corp, the publisher of Berry’s song. They settled out of court, but a pissed off Lennon vowed to record three more of Big Seven’s songs. He got around to releasing two. Both appeared on his Rock n Roll album and one of them was ‘You Can’t Catch Me’. (The third, ‘Angel Baby, went unreleased until after his death). Big Seven sued and won another award ($6,795) then released an album of Lennon’s unauthorized outtakes in a move designed to embarrass Lennon. This time Lennon sued and won, to the tune of $84,912.96. I’ll always wonder how it came down to that 96 cents…


‘Surfin’ U.S.A.’ by the Beach Boys lifted from ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’ by Chuck Berry

And speaking of Chuck Berry, rock n roll’s most ripped-off figure was pretty ticked off to hear ‘Surfin’ U.S.A.’ on the radio one day. It’s very nearly a note-for-note rip-off of his ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’. He sued and won royalties and a songwriting credit. It gets weirder: The lyrics of ‘Surfin’ U.S.A.’ also seems to have been ‘inspired’ by another song, Bobby Rydell’s ‘Kissin’ Time’, which names various American cities. And ‘Kissin’ Time’ borrows melodically from…yup, ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’. It all comes back to Chuck.


‘Hotel California’ by Eagles lifted from ‘We Used to Know’ by Jethro Tull

When the Eagles toured as opening act for Jethro Tull in their earliest days a song from Tull’s live set and written by Ian Anderson made an impression on songwriter Don Henley. It took a while, but about half a decade later his masterwork, ‘Hotel California’ showed the influence of the earlier song. As far as I know, no one sued anyone. But it is interesting to note how un-original Henley’s magnum opus actually is.


‘Take it to the Limit’ by Eagles lifted from ‘If You Don’t Know Me by Now’ by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes

And while we’re on the subject of the Eagles, let’s take note (why not, everybody else is doing it) of Randy Meisner’s ‘Take it to the Limit’. The opening string arrangement comes across as a homage (to put it politely) to Harold Melvin’s R&B hit of three years earlier, written by Gamble and Huff. It was also, incidentally, the first Eagles single not to feature either Henley or Glenn Frey on lead vocals.


So, here’s to the Originals–the Chuck Berrys and Ian Andersons and Huey Lewis’ of the world–those who sometimes have to sue to get the recognition (and money) they deserve. It’s high praise when artists of the stature of Don Henley, John Lennon and Brian Wilson tap your musical legacy for ideas.


See also: Pop-lifting (Part 2): Avril, Rod and Bob Marley Found Guilty | Every Moment Has A Song (edcyphers.com)

Three Jethro Tull Documentaries

This is….The First 20 Years of Jethro Tull (from 1989)

An earlier doc from 1979:

…and a third, from 1986, focusing on Ian Anderson’s career as a salmon farmer.

Songs You May Have Missed #340

stand up

Jethro Tull: “We Used to Know” (1969)

As is the main thrust of this blog in a greater sense, I feel the need to evangelize a bit about those other Jethro Tull songs due to the fact that, to the casual rock fan, Tull tend to get pigeonholed based on the songs radio has always played. Thus there’s an exaggerated emphasis on the Aqualung album, for example, which was a monster in the U.S. and may even indeed be the band’s strongest overall album.

Or it may not. For my money it’s Songs From the Wood. In Germany, The Broadsword and the Beast was a huge seller. And their 1969 sophomore LP Stand Up is a relatively overlooked trove of great songs that many Tull fans consider their favorite.

After the departure of Mick Abrahams following the band’s first album, This Was, guitarist Martin Barre was brought aboard. And more significantly, Ian Anderson took the reins, beginning to move the band from blues-influenced rock to a more folk-inflected style. It was a good idea: there was a glut of blues-rock bands in ’69, but Tull’s blend of folk and progressive rock made them relatively unique.

Having said all that, Stand Up was a transitional album, and does contain a mix: bluesy and folksy sounds, as well as a song written by Bach.

Elsewhere on this blog we mention how this song inspired Don Henley to write “Hotel California” (see link below)


See also: https://edcyphers.com/2012/11/18/songs-you-may-have-missed-242/

Songs You May Have Missed #242


Jethro Tull: “Moths” (1978)

From one of the least talked-about Jethro Tull albums, 1978’s Heavy Horses, comes this little gem. Fresh off the masterpiece that was Songs From the Wood, Ian Anderson brought that album’s folk leanings to another pastoral set of songs with the English countryside as its focus. Maybe the only classic rock band to exploit the beauty of the lute.

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2013/02/24/songs-you-may-have-missed-340/

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