Scotsman Ian Anderson (vocals/flute) and Glenn Cornick (bass) formerly of John Evans' Smash as school buddies to Evans and Jeffery Hammond-Hammond. They left that act to strike out on their own and recruit Mick Abrahams (ex-McGregory's Engine; bass) and Clive Bunker (ex-McGregory's Engine; drums). Taking on the name of the 18th century eccentric English agriculturalist and inventor, Jethro Tull (a name commonly mistaken for being that of Ian Anderson), they would release their debut single on MGM' titled Sunshine Day in 1968, a record mistakenly credited as being from Jethro Toe. After a residency at the infamous Marquee Club they supported Pink Floyd at a free Rock concert at London's Hyde Park, and after another at Sundbury's Jazz and Blues Festival they signed to Island' for their debut This Was (1968), an album that made it to 62 U.S./10 U.K. Following the departure of Abrahams to his own Blodwyn Pig, Martin Barre took his guitar spot permanently, with Tony Iommi (future Black Sabbath) and David O'List (of The Nice) as guest musicians for gigs. The following album, Stand Up (1969), got them a full 1 in the U.K. with a 20 U.S. spot not far behind, mostly on the strength of the spun-off track Living In The Past making 3 U.K. itself. After John Evan was added on keyboards, Benefit (1970) was just that, a benefit to their repertoire by getting them an 11 U.S./3 U.K.
Anderson would now assume strange stage attire and play the flute live, creating the impression that he was Jethro Tull himself. Now mixing blues into the murky waters of Progressive Rock, they released another successful album in the form of Aqualung (1971), a concept album on Anderson's dislike of organized religion. A lot of people heard what he had so say for it was a million seller and got them a 7 U.S./4 U.K. position. The album followed up on a set of line-up changes that finally came to rest with Jeffery Hammond-Hammond (bass) replacing Cornick with Barriemore Barlow (ex-John Evan's Smash)replacing Bunker who also went off to join Blodwyn Pig after the release.
Thick As A Brick (1972) was met with critical disinterest, but all the same people queued up to get a copy and forced it into the charts at 1 U.S./5 U.K. After the Living In The Past (1972) live and studio compilation, A Passion Play (1973) another 1 U.S./13 U.K. charter, Jethro Tull returned to a more traditional song writing structure for War Child (1974), a 2 U.S./14 U.K. and Minstrel In The Gallery (1975), a 7 U.S./20 U.K. effort. But it was all for naught for the critics had it in for the band and they didn't help their own cause with the unremarkable Too Old To Rock N' Roll: Too Young To Die (1976) with John Glascock (ex-Chicken Shack/ex-Toe Fat) replacing Hammond-Hammond and David Palmer being added on keyboards, an album that surprisingly managed 14 U.S./25 U.K.
Now Jethro Tull was thrown into the realm of the unhip for Punk was rearing it's Mohecan dooed head, so they simply raised the performance bar a bit more with the Songs From The Wood (1977) and Heavy Horses (1978) being forced up the charts at 8 U.S./13 U.K. and 19 U.S./20 U.K. respectively on the strength of their live performance being broadcasted from New York's Madison Square Gardens via satellite in 1978, the first of it's kind to be done. A live album of the event Live - Bursting Out (1978) resulted in another chart topper at 21 U.S./17 U.K. Stormwatch (1979) closed the decade with a 22 U.S./27 U.K. spot.
The new decade saw Anderson attempting to branch out on his own with the A (1980) album featuring himself and Barre with Dave Pegg (ex-Fairmont Convention; bass) replacing Glascock who died, Eddie Jobson (ex-Roxy Music/ex-Curved Air; keyboards) replacing Evans and Palmer both, and Mark Craney replacing Barlow on drums. But the album ended off being a part of the Jethro Tull discography and it's membership taking over the old Jethro Tull one. The album managed a 30 U.S./25 U.K.
Peter John Vittesse then replaced Jobson who went solo, along with adding ex-Steeleye Span drummer Gerry Conway for The Broadsword And The Beast (1982) to get their best in sometime at 19 U.S./27 U.K. before Doanne Perry replaced Conway for Under Wraps (1984) that saw only a 70 U.S./18 U.K., not surprising for it was an unpopular attempt at cod-Electronica. After only two more singles and then a several-year break Jethro Tull would return with Anderson, Barre, Pegg and Perry recruiting Martin Allcock (ex-Fairpoint Convention) to replace Vittesse to return to more Hard Rocking endeavors of Crest Of a Knave (1987) and Rock Island (1989) at 32 U.S./19 U.K. and 56 U.S./18 U.K. respectively. Catfish Rising (1991), featuring Andy Giddings (keyboards) and Matt Pegg (bass) stepping in, was considered a disappointment especially when compared to the live 1992 follow-up of A Little Light Music, an album that charted in only England, however, and featured David Mattacks replacing Perry and the various guests on keyboards/percussion/drums. Roots To Branches (1995) saw Perry returning to replace Mattacks with bass playing by both Dave Pegg and Steve Bailey before Anderson, Barre, Giddings and Perry were joined by Jonathan Noyce for permanent bass duties. J-Tull Dot Com (1999) saw them leave the 20th century with a 44 U.K. Despite their latest efforts being less than consistent, and their name no longer holding the real-estate value it once did, Jethro Tull nonetheless march on and continue to convince the old Prog. Rock die-hards to part with their hard earned cash.