Over the years, there
have been a fair few writers who have attempted to plumb
the unfathomable depths of The Jolly Jethros’ secret lives: not that there
is much to plumb. Maybe the odd grubby descent into Jogmania, Pussycatology,
or overindulgence at the table of the Great God Hurry Curry.
first one I remember was an Australian (bloke) who, at the time
of "A Passion Play," wrote some obscure but well-meaning
treatise on me as the poet – a thoroughly wasted literary
journey since I have a distinct dislike of poetry in general and
have never modelled myself on its weird and fanciful practitioners.
I believe it was entitled "To Be The Play." Not many
copies have survived, methinks, to grace the book cabinets and
libraries of the disciples of Rock. He was a nice man, ‘though
and travelled with the band in the great down-under for a few days
in 1972, I think I remember.
1993, Karl Schramm and Gerrard J. Burns took upon themselves (with
a little help from truly-yours) to fashion the then complete
lyrics of Tull songs from the album covers’ lyric pages,
the deciphered mutterings of the records themselves and the half-remembered
words which each night I sing with gay abandon on the concert stage
but can never recall the next morning if asked so to do.
Together with some anecdotal support from interviews with me,
this book – hardbacked to the core – puts down for
once and for all the wordy cravings and meanderings of youth, maturity
and middle-to-late age. Must bring it up to date soon.
The first more analytical attempt of note was the more informed
and down to earth biographical approach of one David Rees – a
modest chap who, through
the good offices of the Tull Fanzine "A
New Day" had a wealth of gathered facts and interview
snippets to draw upon. Combined with the input of his fully feathered
friends in the Tull fan community, this material was honed into
the book known, revered and worshipped as the first real compilation
of facts and a little forgivable fiction, as "Minstrels In
The Gallery." With photographic additions from Martin Webb – himself
an author of articles on rare records – Mark Colman and others,
this book galvanised others to follow suit.
The Americans were not to be left out with a trilogy of efforts
forthcoming in the last two or three years.
Barbara Espinoza wrote to me to ask for interviews and contacts
for a proposed book. She managed the unthinkable: an interview
with the reclusive hermit, Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond! Jeffrey offered
up some Driving
In Diverse: A Collective Profile thoughts
on his life and work, which he wouldn’t ordinarily share
with me – and I see him every few months for lunch or dinner.
What a treat to see this in print. He probably made most of it
Barbara needs a little help on the proof-reading front – a
lot of typos and grammatical no-no’s here, but still a good
read. Published in 1999, her book is curiously named "Driving
Russo’s " Flying
Colours" is a book with a different feel. A large and
packed handbook/reference manual theme offers much researched and
gathered detail. Without so much direct input from the band members,
Greg has brought together astonishing bits and bobs to delight
the Tull fan seeking after the tiniest pearl of information, useful
only – perhaps – to the son of fruit-fly or the criminally
and pathologically nerdomaniacal. Bags to ponder on here. Published
Allen Nollen, a writer on the subject of classic film, literature
and music, produced the well-researched work "Jethro
Tull - A History Of The Band 1968-2001." With notable
contributions from other band members, this book has a foreword
by me – which must mean that I endorse the entire content
in every last shard of detail. In fact, I cannot quite bring myself
to read the whole thing – or any of these other books for
that matter – since it is all a bit close to home and my
memory occasionally disagrees with the recollections of other witnesses
to the tale.
A new entrant to the Tull author hall of infamy is Raymond Benson – the
official author of contemporary James Bond books. Raymond has now
completed a small but perfectly formed (how would I know, since
I haven’t seen it) little book of modest dimension and price
to initiate the less demanding
potential reader of Tull stuff and nonsense. In this, the " Pocket
Essential Jethro Tull,"Raymond has had a little help from
me by way of interview and encouragement, mostly on account of
his continued sending of the latest Bond publication, completely
free of charge. As the once-proud owner of a Walther P88 pistol – specially
set aside for me by the makers – with the serial number 007,
I have still a soft spot for the Bond saga. Sadly, said gun has
been forcibly neutered under the draconian revisions to UK firearms
laws and is relegated to the far reaches of my gun safe. It actually
had a grungy single action trigger pull and the double action was
even more of a pig. God give me back my Browning Hi-Power with
the Barstow match barrel and the MMC target sights. Trigger pull
a safe pound and three quarters and reliable with all known 9mm
ammunition. Sadly neutered also.
The above authors have all reached out to long-standing Tull fans
and neophytes alike with a huge investment in time, labour and
commitment. Their love of the band comes shining through and I
take my hat off to them all. Far too lazy to put pen to paper or
digit to QWERTY, I leave this rarified atmosphere to their own
There have, of course been other Tull authors from other countries,
published in their native tongues, and forgive me for not mentioning
their names and efforts here. I guess you will find them, on the
w.w. web, as indeed you will those detailed above.
Am***n.com will oblige and B****s and N**b*l can probably take
your money too.
So, give the ears a rest. Pick up a book sometime and let their
words do the talking. Here’s to all the Tull authors – bet
they never do it again!