Monday, March 13, 2017

Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull)



Ian Scott Anderson, was born in 1947, in Dumfermline, the youngest of three siblings. The family lived in East Port, Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland, then later moved to Edinburgh. The young Anderson was always keen on music, initially influenced by his father's record collection of big bands and jazz musicians, then later by rock n roll. In 1959 the family relocated to Blackpool and Ian finished his schooling at Blackpool Grammar School. In 1962/63, he formed a school band called The Blades and they played soul and blues music, with Anderson on vocals and harmonica. The line-up was complete with Jeffrey Hammond (bass), John Evans (drums and piano), and another guitarist. Drummer Barrie Barlow became a member in 1963 after Evans had switched from drums to piano. Later the band developed into a seven piece called the John Evan Band (before becoming the John Evan Smash). Meantime Ian completed his studies in fine art at Blackpool College of Art. The group decided to try their luck in the South and moved to Luton. Frustrated by the lack of instant success most of the band quit, leaving Anderson and bassist Glenn Cornick (who had replaced Hammond) to join forces with blues guitarist Mick Abrahams and his friend, drummer Clive Bunker, both from the Luton-based band McGregor's Engine. They took a series of names as they played the London Club circuit but what was memorable about their various metamorphoses was Ian played mouth organ on stage standing on one leg. Frustrated by his own inability to master the electric guitar Ian traded it in for a flute and in record time became proficient in rock and blues flute. Eventually the band weas christened Jethro Tull by a booking agent’s clerk and the name stuck. The group signed to the Ellis-Wright agency and they released their first single in 1968 called "Sunshine Day.”



The record failed to impact on the record buying public. Their first album 'This Was ‘came out in the same year and caught some critical acclaim.



Blues purist Mick Abrahams left the band to form Blodwyn Pig after some artistic differences with Ian Anderson.



Martin Barre eventually replaced Abrahams and Jethro Tull released their next album Stand Up in 1969. It topped the UK album charts.



Progressive rock groups rarely issued singles as their demographic was young adults and not young teenagers who traditionally could not afford to buy albums. When Jethro Tull released “Living in the Past" as a single it reached number three in the UK charts.



They followed up with their other singles, "Sweet Dream" (1969) and "The Witch's Promise" (1970), and a five-track EP, Life Is a Long Song (1971), all of which made the top twenty.











By the time the album Benefit was released John Evan (keyboards) had joined the band.



In the same year Jeffrey Hammond re-joined the group when bassist Glenn Cornick was asked to leave. The group released their most popular album Aqualung in 1971 which had international success reaching Number 7 in the US album charts.



In 1972 the concept album Thick as a brick was released and topped the charts.



Thursday, March 2, 2017

Andy Stewart (1933 - 1993)



Andrew "Andy" Stewart was born in Glasgow in 1933 the son of a school teacher. The family lived in Shieldhall, Glasgow until he was 5 then they relocated to Perth before settling in Arbroath, six years later. He grew up in a musical family and played mouth organ. Andy actually preferred to use his natural vocal dexterity to impersonate other instruments rather than learning to play them. He was a natural mimic and amazed his parents with impersonations of famous singers and actors. He attended Arbroath High School and wrote his first lyric at the age of 14. The song “My Hameland" was recorded much later in 1969 and became the title track of one of his most popular albums.



Andy trained as an actor at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow and started on the boards in 1954 as a comedy impressionist. One of his most popular routines was to perform “Ye Cannae Shove yer Granny Aff a Bus’ in the voices of American stars like Jolson or Armstrong. Andy reveled in the audiences’ reaction to his impressions of Presley and Little Richard. In 1955 Andy joined the cast of a new comedy series on the Scottish Home Service called Jim & Mary (17 Sauchie Street) it drew large audiences and ran from 1955-1959. He was also master of ceremonies to the first packaged Rock & Roll show to tour England, introducing the likes of Tony Crombie and his Rockets, Don Fox and Maxine Daniels to the music-hungry teens.



Steward became a firm favourite with older audiences too and appeared regularly in variety shows and pantomime throughout Scotland. In 1957 he became the host of BBC TV’s The White Heather Club which started as annual New Year's Eve party (1957–1968) before becoming a weekly series (1960–1968). At the height of its popularity, the show had a viewership of 10 million.



Andy affectionately known as the ‘Hobbit,” was the master of ceremonies and sang songs and told jokes. In 1959 he signed his first recording contract with Top Rank and they released “Donald, Where's Your Troosers?” This gave Andy his first taste of chart success because it was a minor hit in the UK charts peaking at number 37.



Next EMI released “A Scottish Soldier” on the Top Rank label. The lyrics were written by Andy and the song was based on an old pipe-tune called “The Green Hills of Tyrol.” The song was recorded at Abbey Road, London and accompanied by The Michael Sammes Singers with Orchestra conducted by Bernard Ebbinghouse. The recording was produced by Walter J. (Wally) Ridley. "A Scottish Soldier" spent 36 weeks in the UK Singles Chart in 1961 and was in the top 50 in the USA for over a year. In Australia, the record became the biggest selling single since Bill Haley's Rock Around the Clock in 1956.



Whilst his records continued to sell he never was able to repeat the earlier chart success. As an entertainer, he frequently and successfully toured Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand.



Recurrent ill-health took its toll and from 1973 on wards Andy was frequently hospitalised. He continued to work when he could but sadly the "The Tartan trooper, " Andy Stewart died in 1993.



Worth a listen

Come in-Come in ( )
Donald Where's Your Troosers?” (1961)
Campbeltown Loch (1961)
The Muckin' O' Geordie's Byre (1961)
The Road to Dundee (1961)
The Battle's O'er (1961)
Take Me Back (1061)
Tunes Of Glory (1961)
Dr. Finlay (1965)
The Gallant Forty-Twa" (1968)
Rainbows Are Back In Style" (1969)
Farewell My Love" (1972)