Jethro Tull Road Stories: Call this one, ‘Menstrual in the Gallery’

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On July 23, 1976, Jethro Tull – touring behind the successful Minstrel in the Gallery and the just-released Too Old To Rock ‘n’ Roll albums – sold out New York’s famed Shea Stadium. The show is remembered by those who were there as quite the bungle in the jungle: It rained, a lot, and each opening act was followed by an hour or more of roadie re-arrangement on the stage. When Ian Anderson and his mates in Jethro Tull finally appeared, four hours into the event, the noise of rush-hour flights from next-door LaGuardia Airport nearly drowned out the music.

All these years later, Anderson has his own memory of that hot, interminable Friday night. “If you want the sort of cruel reminders of just how fragile these things are,” the stalwart Jethro Tull frontman says, “as we were waiting to walk onstage, we were standing in this strange entranceway with vertical walls that went up 60, 70 feet, that contained the audience. Suddenly something wet, and not very nice, was running down my face, from my head. Somebody had pissed in a jar or something, and then poured it over me. And that was it — suddenly it was, ‘You’re on!’ And I had to walk onstage that night with some other man’s urine running down my head.”

Ian Anderson laughs at the recollection — “Well, I assume it was a man” — and begins to tick off the things he’s been hit with over the years: A baseball in the adam’s apple, a thorned rose in the eye.
And then there’s this one: “I was playing acoustic guitar and something hit me in the chest. But it was soft, and I didn’t pay too much attention. I felt something sort of sliding down inside my shirt. I couldn’t see it, but it was sticky, and warm and wet.

“It was a tampon. I was singing [Jethro Tull’s ageless] ‘Thick As a Brick’ or whatever, and I remember that I managed to look down, it was blood, and awful, you know? The first thought that went through my head was ‘What an extraordinary thing … this must have been plucked from between this woman’s legs during the concert …’

“That’s the weird thing to me. Either this was a demonstration of some undying sense of love and intimacy, or it was the worst thing someone could possibly do. Either way, this had been freshly removed. That’s the bit that gets me.”

Excerpted from ‘Jethro Tull: Living With the Past,’ www.billdeyoung.com.

Bill DeYoung

Bill DeYoung

Bill DeYoung spent 35 years as a music journalist before giving it up for a (relatively) cushy job in public relations. His essays appear in more than 100 CDs (including the Cat Stevens Box Set, Stephen Stills’ 'Manassas Pieces' and Chicago’s 'Stone of Sisyphus'). He is also the author of 'Skyway: The True Story of Tampa Bay’s Signature Bridge and the Man Who Brought it Down.' See www.billdeyoung.com; contact Something Else! at reviews@ somethingelsereviews.com.
Bill DeYoung
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