Guitarist Says Jethro Tull Split Was Ian Anderson’s ‘Worst Mistake’
He accepted that the prog-rock giants had reached a challenging point, but that didn’t make the moment easier when Anderson told Barre and drummer Doane Perry that it was over during a U.S. tour in 2011. Since then, Anderson has toured under his own name, with references to Tull at times, while Barre has concentrated on his Martin Barre Band.
“It was Ian's decision,” the guitarist told Misplaced Straws in a recent interview. “We were in America, and me, Doane and Ian sat in a room to talk … and then he dropped that bombshell. He didn't wanna play Jethro Tull. He didn't wanna do Jethro Tull concerts. Me and Doane 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. … It was a very abrupt ending for me and Doane.”
But, Barre added, “In a way, it shook me up. … I think Tull were getting very lethargic … 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 lineup, 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. … 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 lineups, or near enough, and people love to see them and hear them. And they will never, ever see or hear Jethro Tull in the the same respect.”
Asked if he’d take part in a reunion, such as a theoretical induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Barre replied: “The difficulty if there isn’t a Jethro Tull, and I don’t know how the mechanics of it would work. … I don't want to be a prophet. I don't know. It'd be very, very difficult for me.”
Looking back, Barre remembered the joy of joining Tull in 1968, a year after their formation. “I was a blues guitar player and I played blues flute," he said. "So when I heard about Jethro Tull and then eventually went to see them play, it was my dream gig. It was everything I’d ever wanted in music. So to join the band a few months later after I saw them was really incredible. I think if it hadn't lasted a year and finished, I would have been very, very happy. Not happy that it finished, but it would've still been a special event in my life.”