More Thick As A Brick

Hi Bob,

Still, Jethro Tull have never even been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Go Figure!


Terry Ellis


I remember having lunch with Ian when I was running the Chrysalis Music Group USA.
He was not the easiest of men to get on with, and didn’t like sycophants.
I felt rather an idiot when I asked him about the Jazz Flute Solos Book produced by the Hal Leonard/Almo Irving Group, as he responded he didn’t play jazz. Which of course he didn’t.
Jethro Tull’s performances were always great shows and his manager, Joe Lustig – a charming man.
I enjoy your daily postings. Thank you.
Ann P Munday


My uncle owned a record store so I got to hear Thick as a Brick right when the album came out. How was I to know that Jethro Tull wasn’t the guy leading the band? In my memory, even the FM radio jocks would talk about Jethro Tull as if they were talking about a person. (Am I crazy?)

Anyway, that young boy thought this was the greatest song ever written about a brick. But, five years later the Commodores released Brick House. After that, I always thought that Thick as a Brick was the second greatest song about a brick ever written. (Now you know I am crazy).

Marc McLaughlin


I owned Minstrel in the Gallery on 8-track. It eventually got stuck in the player in my 1972 Mercury Marquis becoming forever etched in my mind. After an uncountable number of plays, the first and third as well as the second and fourth track started playing over one another. Fun times.

Andrew Paciocco


I was fortunate to interact with the ‘early’ Jethro Tull Band on two occasions. First, I was a high school senior “interning”at The Fillmore East when JT opened for BS&T on 1/25/69. I was assigned the task of ‘roadie’ help and basically lugged gear. It looked like the JT uys were happy to be playing in the U.S.A. for sure. The second time was when they played Stony Brook University on Long Island on 4/25/71. They were a well oiled machine for that gig (I was a member of the student hospitality crew though I cannot recall what food they ate backstage).
And, yes, Martin Barre has always been awesome

Norm Prusslin
Long Island, N.Y.


Just to chime in, I first saw Tull on the Stand Up tour at Fillmore West. People were shouting out tunes from the first album, to which Anderson replied “Thank you for requesting these obsolete tunes, but we won’t be playing them!”. That made a lasting impression on me.

They were also masters of stage schtick: on the Passion Play tour at Oakland Coliseum Arena they had a mass of roadies in floppy hats and trenchcoats doing setup, who left one by one only to leave the band remaining when they removed the disguises.
Midway through a song, a white phone began to ring on John Evan’s piano. Anderson stopped the song, walked over and answered, returned to his mic and announced “Mike Nelson – white courtesy telephone please!”. The band started back up on a dime as a man in wetsuit and scuba gear padded over to the phone.

A great, great band.



I still have every Tull album (both vinyl and CD) up until mid-80’s… If I had to go to a desert island, and could bring only one, it would be Songs From the Wood. A truly beautiful masterpiece from start to finish.

Gary Fritz


I have always felt that “Wond’ring Aloud” was one of the most beautiful songs ever made.

Bob Jameson


I was 17 when we performed “A New Day Yesterday” and “Cats Squirrel” at a battle of the Bands in my Brooklyn high school gym. Came in second.
Btw – I think guitarist Mick Abrahams (Tull guitarist at the time, went on to form Blodwyn Pig) performance on Cats Squirrel is the best version out there.

Jim Faith


Bob, lifelong Tull fan. They’ve never received true credit for their contribution in the spectrum of rock. And thank you for recognizing Martin Barre. You never here him even mentioned. Ever. His riffs and playing forever resonate.

And your last line is spot on. Let’s celebrate these guys (and ladies) while they’re still here.

Larry Blackwell


Bob, enjoyed your bit about tull, been a fan since ’68
Something I think all Jethro Tull fans would enjoy; Jethro Tull the String Quartets. Reworked tull gems by Ian and a quartet. Recorded in a crypt no less !
Ric’s Recollections


Loved this, Bob. I saw the first TAAB tour and have always been a fan. Martin Barre keeps me coming back.
Tom Lehr


Great one Bob! My Mom actually turned me onto the band after she read an article on them in 69. I became an instant fan. Martin Barre and Clive Bunker were monsters!!

B Chapin


When JEFF The Brotherhood went into Blackbird Studios with Joe Chicarelli, they asked me if I knew anyone in Nashville who played like Ian Anderson.
No, I said. No one plays like Ian Anderson.

A few months later Jake and Jamin asked me to hear the mix of the first single “Black Cherry Pie” and I was stunned by the flute solo. “Who did you find that played like Ian Anderson?” I asked.
“Ian Anderson”, they replied.

Long story short: They sent him the track, he sent it back in 48 hours with a message: No charge. Thanks for keeping rock alive.

“Black Cherry Pie” is on YouTube and all the streamers. Ian Anderson plays like it’s 1972.

Robert Ellis Orrall


I was a big fan. Never missed them when they played Chicago, which was pretty often in the day.
There was nobody like them, and don’t get me started on Ian Anderson. He was IT for me. When he would play that flute while balancing on one leg, I was mesmerized.
I actually named my son Ian!
I was fortunate enough to get to meet him once and told him. He looked at me like I was crazy, but I didn’t care.
I think it’s time to revisit some of the old tunes.
Thanks for the memories Bob.

Bonnie Feinerma


Was This Spinal Tap related to Tull? You forgot to mention Ring out These Solstice Bells and the album Broadsword. Haha. Kidding. Tull is one of my FOATs. Ian Anderson is an underrated great on the acoustic guitar. A true rocker, thinker, and businessman. “ We used to know” may be the best tune. The flute has never been so cool. Oz

Joshua Osswald


It’s the Fall of 1980, I’m working my first job out of college for the Real Paper in Cambridge.

At the end of one day as I go to my car in the underground garage of our building, I notice a brown paper bag leaning up against my front left wheel.

It’s full of albums someone clearly didn’t want.

The only one I kept was ‘Thick As A Brick.’

I read the newspaper every time I played the album.


Raymond B. Levin


This little diddy from TAAB resonates for our times:

“The doer and the thinker, no allowance for the other
As the failing light illuminates the mercenary’s creed“

Peter Duray-Bito


I know I’m very late to the party in responding to this post (the blessing of an internet free weekend spent primarily watching the leaves turn in upstate New York) but I had to add mine to the chorus of “thank yous” for writing this piece. I was lucky enough to see the band perform TAAB twice, both times at Madison Square Garden, once with Roxy Music as an opener and the other time with Gentle Giant (great interview with Derek Shulman by the way). Anyway, and I’m not sure if this was mentioned in any of the dozens of responses you posted, but the band that toured TAAB was absolutely amazing live. This was, for me anyway, the best of all the post blues band lineups. Much has been written about Martin Barre (and deservedly so), but the supporting cast of characters called on to perform the piece live – John Evan on keyboards, Barriemore Barlow on drums and Jeffrey Hammond Hammond on bass were perfect complements to Ian’s on stage antics. Again, TAAB was a piece of music that was meant to be performed, not just played, and these guys pulled it off. Reminds me of how much I miss live music…and great albums. Thanks again.

Tom Ennis


Cheers on good Tull prose.

I had the privilege of interview Ian Anderson around 2000 and I had the audacity to ask him, “If I was auditioning for the guitarist position in your band and my name was Jethro, would that help our deter me?”

He chuckled and softly said, “I don’t think that would enhance your chances.”
Sent from my phone
Doug Van Pelt


Went to see JT while coming home from the Marines on leave, they were playing The Felt Forum.

My previous concert to this was 78 Stormwatch Tour when my babysitter took me while in 3rd grade – she didn’t wanna miss it at Nassau Coliseum..

So I get to the Felt Forum, Fire Up A Joint and everyone’s like Put That Out..and I’m looking around like this is a fucking Tull Show right??? So I hit it like 3 Snoop Puffs and clipped it..


Matt Gaines


I loved your piece on JT. I promoted two shows with them in Ireland last year. Both sell outs and both went down a storm. I found everyone fantastic to deal with and Ian was such a gent. I forwarded your blogpost to James Anderson, Ian’s son, who looks after the business side of things. I am already trying to book them again to come back when we get to the other side of Covid.

Keep on doing what you do Bob! It’s keeping me sane.

Best to you & Felice.


Brian Hand


The dude who claimed he listened to ‘Thick As A Brick’ on a Sony Walkman in 1976 was some kinda “futurist”, as in my universe it tells me the wondrous game changer only hit the market in 1979!
For mine ‘Stand Up’ was just amazing on release and remains so. But for singular best use of a Tull song in film or TV… ‘Locomotive Breath’ deployed in a episode of ‘Fargo’ was an astonishing placement.
And Steven Wilson in all his musical guises is the greatest musician on the planet for at least the last two decades. His King Crimson 5.1 remixing of their early albums is stunning, let alone as the linchpin of the greatest post Pink Floyd legacy with Porcupine Tree.



So great to see some love for Tull!! As a kid, there was never any contradiction in loving punk rock and loving Tull. It was just music for odd balls, and to young ears it all felt the same.

Nothing evokes the weird and vanished England of eccentric dialects and standing stones quite like them. It might be magical realism, but their version of this country resonates with me just as much as any of the movements that existed alongside – and usually at odds – with them.

Ross Allmark


Wonderful letter.
Tull stands alone.

Frederick Lyle



Aqualung was better.


Michael McCarty


I bought the Aqualung remix a couple years ago on vinyl hoping it would be an improvement on the awful original mix. I wasn’t disappointed. It came with details from Wilson about what he’d done. So anyway…..Thick as a Brick. But you did the review. And it fairly accurately matched my own experience. Anderson tied the whole thing together like the rug in Lebowski’s room. Benefit is my favorite, the US release with Teacher. Heavy Horses is a great song. He was a master at blending melody and lyric to create a mood. Budapest is a fave. Still, it ain’t Tull without Martin. His musical vision is woven deep throughout all of their recordings. What a great massive creative burst of music the 60s and early 70s were! Glad I was there! Thanks for the piece.

Bill Nelson


June 3rd 1972, Ottawa Civic Center

Did not disappoint -a great show, well played.


lawn mowing money

for those who say “Tull ain’t ‘eavy Met’l” show them Jethro Tull with Tony Iommi on guitar.



Thanks Bob. You have unlocked the way back machine once again. I am now going to set aside a day to listen to all of my seven Tull LPs – in order. Luckily, there are a few rainy days on the horizon. I can’t wait!

I then drop further into the time machine and think of their live performances. I saw them at least several times in arenas- with 15,000 of my closest friends. They always pulled it off, with perfectly balanced sound and excellent lighting.

But– they almost stole the show at the best concert I ever saw. July 7, 1970, with It’s a Beautiful Day, Tull and The Who- playing Tommy for the last time. All three were favorites of mine, and I didn’t miss a note. Tull’s sets stole the show.

Bill Capps


Bob in 1979 I was living in Toronto with friends, I had just got out of the army. We went to see The Who in Buffalo at the old Aud, yes this was the show after the infamous Cincinatti concert. Daltrey apologized for the Cincinnati show.
Next week we went to see Tull in Toronto Maple Leaf Gardens. We only got in because at the last moment they released seats behind the stage. We were so close to Ian from there, we saw all his stage antics up close and personal. That’s why I miss the Toronto concert scene The Who one week Tull the next, can’t beat that.
I know it’s heresy but War Child is my favourite Tull album, listening to Thick as a Brick right now, it’s growing on me.

Doug Gillis


Thank you for even mentioning Jethro Tull! Pretty daring move!
I think Ian Anderson and Tull are quite underappreciated, and in certain circles, are treated as a joke. It’s unfair.
I am a lifelong fan, particularly all their albums up to Stormwatch. I have enjoyed seeing their tours over a dozen times. No matter who is in the lineup, they ALWAYS deliver a tight, entertaining, disciplined show, with stellar musicianship.
Their reissue program of their albums with the remixes by Steven Wilson are setting the standard for how a catalog can be expanded and improved. Both the the stereo and surround mixes are beautifully done. The albums sound better than ever.
Critics, both professional and otherwise, love to dismiss them, but he/they have given me years of great entertainment. I appreciate you coming to their defense. Somebody had to say it!
Kyle Peterson/Seattle


As a 13-year-old flute-playing boy in 1968, I was a fan. Thick As a Brick was the first LP I bought.

Later, as a young news guy at WXRT in Chicago in the’80s, I brought my flute into the station so Ian Anderson would have something to play for promos like this:

Charlie Meyerson


Ian’s become a master salmon smoker….did you know that? BTW: “This Was” was more than anything a Rahsaan Roland Kirk tribute…Ian’s clear flute mentor.

Michael Fremer

P.S. My friend Mike Hobson released “Aqualung” on Classic Records cut from the original tape. Ian had it under some stuff in his garage. It never was a particularly good recording. Analogue Productions just released it as a double 45 on UHQR 200 gram hand pressed vinyl cut from tape in a deluxe box for $125 and is close to selling out the 5000 copy run.

Even I don’t get that…

Michael Fremer


Hey Bob,
Holy Shit!!!
Look at these responses!
I have never seen anything like this from a band or an album you’ve written about.
Let’s do some more Tull,
let’s talk about some more albums,
these guys deserve it,
all day long!

Jeffrey Scott,


I used to love this one when I was discovering the classics in my teams. Gonna cue up the new mix and listen.

Well done on championing this record while Ian is alive, as you say.

Todd Carey


When I was 9 I took “Heavy Horses” (1978) out of the library. I fell in love with it so hard I made my dad buy it for me. It is still one of my favorite records of all time.
From there I went backwards through their catalog. One of the most distinctive and accomplished bands of all time. Thanks for championing their music! Feels good to know I’m not alone.

Peter Cole


Thank you for the inclusion Bob.
Sent me back to discogs to rebuild the vinyl library
when you bust open those cobwebs of greatness.

btw, I taught myself how to play guitar to the tunes of Locomotive breath and Aqualung.

Can’t wait til your next pic from he past..they are loved.
sincerest regards from us all


Thanks for writing about “Thick as a Brick,” Bob. Like hearing the music itself, your essay didn’t just make me think about Jethro Tull or the time I saw the band in a packed midwestern hockey arena. It also reminded me of the last time I saw an old friend — someone I’d known since we were 12, someone I now haven’t seen for over 40 years.

He and I first formed our friendship in grade school based on our mutual love of the Beatles. We saw “Let It Be” and “The Concert for Bangladesh” together in old movie theaters when the films were new. And we played in a band together that almost never got out of his garage but gave us a reason to sing Beatle songs.

We fell out of touch after high school, when my folks moved away from my hometown.

But a couple years later, I was back for a visit, and some mutual friends and I went over to my old friend’s house for a small party. At one point during the festivities, my old friend motioned me to an adjoining room. He got a really old guitar case out of a closet and pulled out a very cool antique Martin acoustic, a small parlor-sized guitar. My friend sat down opposite me, started playing, and sang, “Really don’t mind if you sit this one out.”

From there, my old friend sang and played the whole damn thing. The funny thing is, my old friend wasn’t a guitarist — he was a drummer. But he sure knew how to play “Thick as a Brick” on the guitar.

We must have sat there for over a half hour as he sang that long song, but it seemed like five minutes — a tribute to the beauty of the original composition and to the feeling in my friend’s performance — very different from the original recording, of course, but with the same spirit.

Thanks for reminding me of that unexpected and most memorable performance of “Thick as a Brick,” Bob.

Kurt Schroeder


Nice to see Tull get their due. Thanks.

When I interviewed Ian Anderson in 1990 for the San Diego Union (now Union-Tribune) , here’s what he had to say about Tull beating out Metallica for that controversial Grammy:

“It seemed strange to me at the time, being nominated, because that category did not reflect what the band is about in my eyes,” said Anderson, who co-founded Jethro Tull in 1968. “The new category was meant to reflect the alternative and harder end of the spectrum, which it did. But, to the consternation of the Grammy organizers, it was not a good move, retrospectively, to embrace metal and hard rock. Because it became a catchall for anybody not in the pop categories.

“However, I’m pleased we won since it’s an accolade given to us by our peer group of 6,000-plus members in the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, and that’s something you can’t influence.”

Critics charged that Jethro Tull’s victory was attributable to two factors: The veteran English band was more familiar to Grammy voters than the other nominees; and its victory was more for a 20-year body of work than for “Crest of a Knave,” the album for which the band had been nominated. Anderson agrees.

“That was what I felt uncomfortable with,” he said. “It was not just an album or a category people were recognizing, but 20 years of Jethro Tull. The only casualties were Metallica, who were convinced they would win when everyone told them they would. Well, tough luck. If they’re that good they ought to last another 19 years.”

Anderson chuckled. “Metallica now has the honor of being among the many influential, successful and creative groups of all time who have not won, because there are a lot of them.”

Metallica was considered such a likely winner that Jethro Tull’s record label, Chrysalis, not only discouraged the European-based Anderson from attending, but also refused to provide tickets to Tull’s Los Angeles-based drummer, Doane Perry.

“I don’t think Chrysalis wanted to shell out the air fare,” Anderson said. “And maybe it’s all for the best. Given the booing and the disgruntled behavior from the press backstage, I would have found it difficult to walk away clutching a Grammy Award.”

George Varga


I was with Alice at that Grammy Awards when he had to announce the winner. At the afterparty, he reached into his pocket and handed the Metallica guys the actual envelope with the Jethro Tull wording inside. Now that’s a memento.

Toby Mamis


I don’t share your enthusiasm for exactly this (I’ll bet it’s great, never heard it) but it’s great to see onetime critics ease up and dig things.

Art Fein


I was in a band on Chrysalis in 86 called “The City”, but I knew about as much about labels and the biz as I know about building a rocket ship…I don’t think I even knew Tull was on that label…

Wade Biery


I remain un-moved. (It’s why we started punk rock).

Hugo Burnham

Comments are closed