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God, Lemmy & The Walking Dead: The Gospel According To Ian Anderson

Who cares about zombie invasions when Andrew Lincoln (aka The Walking Dead's Rick Grimes) is your son-in-law? Not the Jethro Tull singer.

Dunfermline-born Jethro Tull founder Ian Anderson is among rock’s most eloquent and durable exponents. From his international success with Tull to his extra-curricular activities running salmon farms and, more recently, speaking out on men’s health issues, he is no mere pensioner seeing out his twilight years. Welcome to his world…

THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS FATE

My first band, The Blades, comprised a couple of school friends and one other that just happened to include future Jethro Tull colleagues Barriemore Barlow, John Evan and Jeffrey Hammond, but I don’t believe in destiny. It’s all about the pragmatic reality of reducing odds. You happen to meet at school and decide to form a pop group. Everything falls into place, it cannot be preordained. That’s just too supernatural for me.

CORPORAL PUNISHMENT IS A GOOD THING

And I say that as someone thrown out of grammar school for refusing to be caned. I didn’t like pain. I explained to the headmaster that I would accept another suitable punishment for my transgression, but that he could not cane me. The subtext was that he might enjoy it too much. In the end I was sent packing – full-blown expulsion. I walked into the street, tossed my school hat high into the air and left it lying in a puddle.

FIND SOMETHING YOU'RE GOOD AT, AND STICK WITH IT

At the age of four I wanted to be an engine driver, and a couple of years later the army or navy appealed. I was also drawn towards being a policeman or a movie star. Next I aspired to journalism. And at art college I made the not uncommon switch to music. At eighteen years old I might not have been too surprised that five decades on I’d still be doing this. By the time I turned my hand to music I wanted it to be a lifelong career. And failing that, my Plan B was a job in the business as a producer, songwriter or – God help me – at a record company.

DO ANYTHING TO FINANCE THE DREAM

For a while I worked a part-time job at a cinema in Luton. My responsibilities involved cleaning the lavatory. When I left I took a spare urinal with me. It was cracked and had been sitting there in the storeroom, so I carried it all the way back to my lonely attic bedroom. Maybe it would be useful for something? I considered turning it into a drinking fountain.

KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS

I strummed away at a guitar from the age of eleven in what was then a skiffle group before developing an interest in Chicago blues. My technique had evolved to the point where I could improvise solos and generally play a bit. And then a bad thing happened: I got a copy of the John Mayall album Blues Breakers With Eric Clapton [1966]. At first I was excited, though very quickly I felt intimidated. It caused me to trade in my Fender Strat for a flute and a Shure Unidyne 3 microphone. And after that revelation with Clapton, I learned of Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Ritchie Blackmore, so I had no qualms over moving on.

RELIGION GETS A BAD RAP

A couple of songs on Aqualung do touch upon my difficulty with certain religious elements, but it’s the rantings of a schoolboy. At that age hormones begin racing, we try to find our place and often end up railing against authority. And as a twenty-three-year-old I was harnessing that angst. I’m quite at ease with Christianity and all its forms, also Islam and even Judaism, though I get nervous at any form of worship that chooses to deem its holy book an irrefutable word of God, and a handbook for how we must act.

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