"It's the worst business decision that was ever made in the history of Jethro Tull": Martin Barre speaks out about his break with Ian Anderson

Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull onstage
(Image credit: Ian Anderson: Mondadori Portfolio | Martin Barre: SOPA Images)

Former Jethro Tull guitarist Martin Barre has spoken out about his break with the band, claiming that his absence from the line-up since 2012 has "diluted" the Jethro Tull brand.

Speaking with the VRP Rocks podcast, Barre waxes lyrical on the demise of his relationship with Tull frontman Ian Anderson, saying, "It's a shame, you know?", before going on to draw comparisons with several iconic partnerships. "Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. I'm not saying that that we're in that league, but me and Ian had a connection, much more than music, and it's gone forever. And that's really sad."

Expanding on his split from Anderson, Barre says, "I always say to people it's the worst business decision that was ever made in the history of Jethro Tull. Because you look around and you see people doing these huge [tours]. It's not just about the money, but the the attention they get. And the brand is now so diluted. It's a real shame, and I feel that the way it's been diluted has an impact on us all."

On the subject of Ian Anderson touring under the Jethro Tull banner, Barre says, "I am Jethro Tull's guitar player. I was, I am now, and I always will be. The same as Ian will always be the singer and flute player of Jethro Tull. No band I have will ever be Jethro Tull, it can't be. In my mind, there isn't a Jethro Tull. There's Ian's band, there's my band, and we have one person each from the core, important Jethro Tull era." 

"It's a really difficult area, and people have to make up their own mind. And, you know, there's room for everybody. It's a big world."

Elsewhere on the podcast, Barre discusses the highs and lows of his long career, including sharing a stage with Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, and the making of band's classic 70s albums. 

In 2020, Anderson told Classic Rock, "I’ve always felt awkward about the idea of getting the old band back together, because which edition of the band are we talking about? Picking some people and not others would be favouritism. And I don’t have favourites.

"If the show is all Jethro Tull repertoire, I feel that’s Jethro Tull. If you looked at Wikipedia two or three years ago, it said ‘Jethro Tull was…’ Now, that past tense has disappeared, due to some grudging acknowledgment that Jethro Tull goes on."

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.