While it would be six years until they would release their debut, the seeds of Jethro Tull were sowed in Blackpool, England in 1962. They began as a group called the Blades, and they quickly changed to a seven-piece soul group called the John Evan Band. In 1967, the group moved to the busier London, setting up shop just outside of town in Luton. After a few personnel changes, they changed their name to Jethro Tull, who was an 18th century agriculturalist.
Attempting to track the band's myriad lineup changes would be an exercise in futility, as they only ever had two members who could be considered stalwarts. First, is their talismanic front man, Ian Anderson. Anderson was born in Scotland, but raised in Blackpool. He contributes lead vocals to all their albums, serves as Tull's main songwriter, and plays multiple instruments. His most notable contribution was his electric flute, which became the centerpiece of their original, iconic sound.
The only other long-time member is virtuosic guitarist, Martin Barre. He played on all of their records, save their 1968 self-titled debut. His brilliant, quirky guitar work has guaranteed his place in the Pantheon of the gods of rock guitar. Among his most famous compositions is his emotive, swirling solo on the title track of 1971's Aqualung. Guitar World Magazine rated it as the 25th Greatest Guitar Solo of All Time.
While Aqualung is probably their best-known album, they crafted many classic albums and sold over 60 million copies. The group's 1969 release, Stand Up, was met with both critical acclaim and commercial acceptance. The disc debuted at #1 on the UK charts, and features some of their most loved songs, such as the bluesy opening track "A New Day Yesterday" and the mandolin-driven "Fat Man."
Though their career has spanned almost 45 years, the group, spurred on by the passion of Anderson and Barre, continues to this day. As they matured, they toyed with many musical styles from folk to hard rock. They famously, perhaps infamously, won the first ever Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance for their 1987 record, Crest of A Knave, though most of the country believed Metallica's …And Justice For All had the award wrapped up.
Though, at this point in their career, they only perform sporadically and haven't released a proper studio album (2003's Christmas album does not count) since 1999's uneven J-Tull Dot Com they still have some of the most rabid fans in music, driven by the group's impressive, progressive songwriting, undeniable soul, and technical virtuosity.