Ian Anderson: Jethro Tull's Famous Flute Man, Stories And Facts

By Kellar Ellsworth
Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull performs live on stage at the Rainbow Theatre in Finsbury Park, London on November 14 1974 (Photo by Ian Dickson/Redferns)

Few rock visuals are as weird and iconic as the sight of Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson, in full medieval minstrel mode (codpiece and all), balanced on one foot and furiously working his flute through "Locomotive Breath" or "Cross-Eyed Mary." Anderson's story is an unusual one -- probably the only rock biography to begin with a guitarist who drops his axe and picks up a flute. For over 50 years, Anderson and Tull have taken fans on a unique journey that is the essence of classic rock: classic songs but no hit singles; albums that sold even when critics panned them; phases of prog-rock, folk-rock and hard rock. As the frontman, songwriter and lyricist, and the only remaining original member of the group, Anderson really is Jethro Tull, and the bands inherent strangeness flows from its mad, one-legged genius.