Ian Anderson, known throughout the world of rock music as the flute and voice behind the legendary Jethro Tull, celebrated his 50th year as an international recording and performing musician in 2018.
Ian was born in 1947 in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland. After attending primary school in Edinburgh, his family relocated to Blackpool in the north of England in 1959. Following a traditional grammar school education, he moved on to art college to study fine art before deciding on an attempt at a musical career. Tull formed in 1968 out of the amalgamation of the John Evan Band and McGregor’s Engine, two blues-based local UK groups.
After a lengthy career, Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull have released 30 studio and live albums, selling more than 60 million copies since the band first performed at London’s famous Marquee Club in February 1968.
After undertaking more than 3000 concerts in 40 countries during five decades, he has typically played 100-plus concerts each year to longstanding, as well as new fans worldwide. Widely recognized as the man who introduced the flute to rock music, Ian Anderson remains the crowned exponent of the popular and rock genres of flute playing. So far, no real pretender to the throne has stepped forward. Ian also plays ethnic flutes and whistles together with acoustic guitar and the mandolin family of instruments, providing the acoustic textures which has been an integral part of most of the Tull repertoire.
Anderson has so far recorded seven diverse albums under his own name during a long career: 1983's Walk Into Light, the flute instrumental Divinities album for EMI’s Classical Music Division in 1995 which reached number one in the relevant Billboard chart, and the more acoustic collections of songs, The Secret Language of Birds, Rupi’s Dance, plus rock albums Thick As A Brick 2, 2014’s Homo Erraticus, and out in 2017—“The String Quartets,” his collaboration with England’s The Carducci String Quartet.
In recent years, he has toured more and more as simply Ian Anderson, often with orchestras, string quartets, featured soloists.
Anderson lives on a farm in the southwest of England where he has a recording and rehearsal studio and offices. He has been married for 40 years to Shona who is also an active director of their music and other companies. They have two children – James and Gael – and two grandchildren. Gael is married to actor Andrew Lincoln, currently shooting more episodes of the hugely-acclaimed zombie thriller, The Walking Dead, now preparing to shoot the 8th series as the most-watched TV drama ever.
Ian's hobbies include the growing of many varieties of hot chili peppers, the study and conservation of the 26 species of small wildcats of the world and the appreciation of mechanical watches, fountain pens, and vintage cameras. He reluctantly admits to owning digital cameras and scanners for his work on the photographic promotional images related to Tull as well as his solo career.
In 2006, he was awarded a Doctorate in Literature from Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, the Ivor Award for International Achievement in Music, and in the New Years Honours List 2008 an MBE for services to music. In 2011 he received another Doctorate in Literature from Dundee University.
Ian owns no fast car, never having taken a driving test, and has a wardrobe of singularly uninspiring and drab leisurewear. He still keeps a couple of off-road competition motorcycles, a few sporting guns and a saxophone which he promises never to play again.
He declares a lifelong commitment to music as a profession, being far too young to hang up his hat or his flute, although the tights and codpiece have long since been consigned to some forgotten bottom drawer.