Martin Barre opens up on the moment Ian Anderson disbanded Jethro Tull

Jethro Tull
(Image credit: Paul Natkin - Getty)

Former Jethro Tull guitarist Martin Barre has spoken of the moment in 2011 when Ian Anderson told him he'd decided to disband Jethro Tull. Until now Barre has been reluctant to talk of the actual moment, but in a new interview with Jeff Gaudiosi of the Misplaced Straws website, Barre recalls the meeting between himself, drummer Doane Perry and Anderson.

"It was Ian's decision," he says. "Because in that year, I can't remember the gig, we were in America and me, Doan (Perry) and Ian sat in a room to talk, Ian asked us and then he dropped that bombshell. He didn't want to play Jethro Tull. He didn't want to do Jethro Tull concerts. Me and Doan were just speechless, really, because Ian has always been a very careful, planned out person, he knows exactly what he wants and what he's gonna do.

"In the back of my mind. I thought that this isn't something he's done on the spur of the moment, he really thought through it. It was a very abrupt ending for me and Doane. In a way, it shook me up because I think Tull were getting very lethargic [as a] band and  the sets were becoming very much the same every tour and nobody wanted any change. I always try to get changes within the group and ideas in production and line up, but but there was no interest in doing it.

"It was a timely occurrence, but it certainly wasn't of my doing or Doane's. So, yeah, essentially, it's all about people management, and some people are good at certain (things) and other people aren't. It was upsetting. I always tell people it's probably the worst decision that Ian's ever made in his life. And whether he thinks so or not, I'll never know. But I'll look at all the other bands touring with their original line ups, or near enough, and people love to see them and hear them. And they will never, ever see or hear Jethro Tull in in the the same respect."

Barre, who declined to be interviewed for the recent The Ballad Of Jethro Tull book, which has just been reissued in paperback, also pours cold water on the idea of any possible reunion with Anderson as well, even if the band were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

"The difficulty is there isn't a Jethro Tull and I don't know how the mechanics of it would work," he says. "I don't want to be a prophet. I don't know. It'd be very, very difficult for me. I think the main thing for me is that my band has given so much to me and for me to Jethro Tull's music. But what whatever happened or didn't happen, but in my mind that they would have to be part of it, because I think it'd be a very ignorant gesture to turn my back on them in any way at all, because they just part my, I think the biggest part, of my musical career."

Barre recently announced his own 50 Years Of Jethro Tull double CD release for November 6 through Store For Music.

You can read and listen to the full Martin Barre interview here.

Jerry Ewing

Writer and broadcaster Jerry Ewing is the Editor of Prog Magazine which he founded for Future Publishing in 2009. He grew up in Sydney and began his writing career in London for Metal Forces magazine in 1989. He has since written for Metal Hammer, Maxim, Vox, Stuff and Bizarre magazines, among others. He created and edited Classic Rock Magazine for Dennis Publishing in 1998 and is the author of a variety of books on both music and sport, including Wonderous Stories; A Journey Through The Landscape Of Progressive Rock.