The year was 1969. I was a 17-year-old high school graduate living and working in Connecticut. I was a babe in the woods when it came to New York City and “Live” rock concerts. My music tastes were forged listening intently to progressive rock radio station WNEW-FM 102.7.
The Fillmore East was the goal I had to experience. Bill Graham’s magic venue was constantly advertised on WNEW which made that passion stronger in my soul.
A fellow Jethro Tull fanatic scored four tickets at $5.50@ for us to see The Jeff Beck Group, Jethro Tull and The Soft White Underbelly perform at The Fillmore East on July 3rd, 1969. I was pumped. I could finally see my first “live” rock concert and it would take place at The Fillmore East! Little did I realize it would be the first of 425+ concerts in the next 46 years I would attend. This concert changed my life from radio station listener to active music participant. I have loved and nurtured the role of concert attendee ever since that day.
Since none of us drove a car, we rode the train from South Norwalk, CT to Grand Central Station. All the way down to the East Village we held a lively debate about our favorite band Jethro Tull and their first album, This Was. We loved to argue competitively which was the best song on the album. My favorite choice was “Serenade to a Cuckoo” by Rahsaan Roland Kirk. I fought for it vehemently as others articulated their favorites. Tull fanatics were we enjoying our obsession!
We took the IRT Lexington Avenue subway line to Astor Place. It was a cool and comfortable July evening in the East Village neighborhood. Our anticipation grew as we approached The Fillmore East venue on 2nd Avenue. The smell of pot and incense filled the air. The sidewalks were crowded with long-haired hippies like us. I was approached several times before we went inside if I had a spare ticket. I never responded and just kept walking. The famous lighted marquee above showed in black letters, July 3 Jeff Beck/Jethro Tull. We surrendered our tickets at the door which the Fillmore usher proceeded to tear in half. He gave us each a program (which I have since lost, sigh) and then he escorted us to our seats under the balcony overhang. He had long hair to the middle of his back and was wearing a Fillmore East green basketball jersey. He used his flashlight to point out our four seats in aisle M. Then he smiled and said, “Enjoy the show.” I thought what a cool job wondering how many great shows had he seen?
The theater was bustling as people milled about. The banter of the crowd was loud and lively. The stage was smaller than I thought it would be. I was fine with that as it added to the intimate nature of the celebration.
Soon the lights went down and Kip Cohen (Managing Director) announced the opening act. “Ladies and Gentleman please give a warm New York City welcome for Soft White Underbelly.” The first act Soft White Underbelly was a local Long Island band. They would evolve to later become Blue Oyster Cult. I was not familiar with this band’s music at all. I loved their raw energy and loud, thrashing guitars. I watched as Light by Pablo set the backdrop for their set with lots of uses of white and grey graphics. At one point I saw an image of the great white whale Moby Dick thrashing in the ocean behind them. I loved witnessing the use of lighting and graphics accented the artist’s music as they played. This art form fascinated me. Soft White Underbelly played a short, 30 minute set and received a nice round of applause for their effort.
We started yelling, “Jethro Tull, Jethro Tull”, repeatedly. The guys in front of us gave us a look of disapproval but we didn’t care. We heard the announcer say, “From England, Jethro Tull”. Next thing you know Ian Anderson and the Jethro Tull band took the stage. Ian was a whirling dervish that night. Silver flute in hand wearing a red checkered bath robe with long suede boots laced all the way up to his knee. He had this wild look in his eyes and he often stood on one foot as he played the flute. Off they went into the first song from This Was, “My Sunday Feeling”.
I was jumping up and down with Tull as they rocked the house. Wow, I was really getting to see my favorite band perform right in front of me. They sounded fantastic, much more dynamic than their album ever conveyed.
We quickly learned that Mick Abrahams, original Tull lead guitarist, had been replaced by Martin Barre. I was disappointed because I loved Abrahams style and wanted to see him play. Martin Barre, as the new Jethro Tull took a bit of getting used to that night. (Martin Barre became a fixture with Jethro Tull for the next four decades.)
We did not know yet that we were about to be treated to several new tracks from their “unreleased” second studio recording, Stand Up.
The lighting for Jethro Tull was a thick, dark, wooded glen. The screen changed into fantastic shades of forest green and blue. I recall the leaves turning bronze and copper which offset the trees smartly.
The song I liked the best from Stand Up was “Fat Man”. It was Ian Anderson seated singing and playing mandolin and Clive Bunker on bongos with bells on his feet staying in time. It was a departure from the songs on This Was. I found the song about being fat enchanting and fun. Ian Anderson’s wry sense of humor came across on these lyrics.
The Fillmore East concert was held on the eve of the Newport Jazz Festival on July 4th. George Wein had decided that Newport Jazz would go Rock that year. Jethro Tull and The Jeff Beck Group along with Led Zeppelin were scheduled to change jazz festival history as part of a transformative lineup in Newport, Rhode Island. Ian Anderson mentioned to the audience how he couldn’t wait to perform with Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
Then Jethro Tull played my favorite song, “Serenade to a Cuckoo”. I was enthralled to get my private wish of hearing this song played live answered. Tull justified their place at Newport when they performed this jazz classic.
Their set ended too quickly for us. We yelled and screamed “Tull” as they excitedly vanished to wildly enthusiastic applause.
The Jeff Beck Group headlined The Fillmore East concert. Jeff Beck was a very skillful guitar slinger set against the light show extravaganza. The lighting effect for The Jeff Beck Group was the psychedelic bubble formed in a petri dish on an overhead projector. I was reminded of the cover of Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida as the bubble throbbed and mutated above the band. I was witnessing a member of the Yardbirds. How cool was that?
Rod Stewart was vocalist extraordinaire for Jeff Beck. He was the dandy with a long scarf that he threw about his neck as he strutted the stage like a peacock. He was very tall and the women were taken with him. He was the sex symbol we would later read about in the seventies. I loved his gravelly voice.
The Jeff Beck Group also featured Ron Wood (Small Faces, Rolling Stones) on bass guitar and Tony Newman on drums. They tore the roof off The Fillmore East venue that night.
After the concert we walked back to the subway stop, making a pit stop at Gramophone a record shop where I purchased Beck-Ola by The Jeff Beck Group. I wanted to become more familiar with the songs I heard them do that evening. I still own that album and play it when the mood strikes me.
Years later I ended up seeing Blue Oyster Cult right up the street from where I live, Jethro Tull six more times (not including the Ian Anderson Rubbing Elbow Tours, which is another story for another day) and Jeff Beck twice at Madison Square Garden.
The Fillmore East – 105 Second Avenue, East Village
The Fillmore East survived just four years. Rock music was moving to the arenas and stadiums. The Fillmore business model could no longer afford to pay the bands who made our music. The Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation commemorated The Fillmore East on October 9, 2014 with this plaque.
I awoke this morning to have the Mrs. tell me that Glenn Cornick, the original bass guitarist for Jethro Tull passed away yesterday. Glenn Cornick is the first member of the original Jethro Tull to join the Great Beyond. Sigh. Death comes to us all.
I reflect on what Glenn Cornick and the early Jethro Tull band means to me. The beautiful aspect of musicians we admire is that we can continue to stay connected with them through their recorded music.
“This Was”, “Stand Up” and “Benefit” were to feature the personable and idiosyncratic style of Glenn Cornick during the next three years in which he played his important role in the early years of Tull.
Ever the party animal, Glenn grew apart from the other band members during 1970. This was a reflection, not of Glenn’s social waywardness, but of the reclusive and insular nature of the other guys’ rather private and atypical lifestyles.
Glenn was “invited to leave” by manager Terry Ellis but given due encouragement to form his own Chrysalis Records signed band “Wild Turkey” which enjoyed some success with records
Glenn Cornick was a very animated bass player. He had long black hair that he attempted to keep in control with a head band. But when he played bass he would dance wildly as his hair flopped all around his face. Loved that image of him and that’s how I want to remember Glenn Cornick best. Happily immersed in his pursuit of bass notes driving Tull along.
Peace be with you Glenn Cornick the music of our heart goes out to your family and loved ones in this time of sorrow.
My favorite Jethro Tull recording which never gets old for me is their third album, Benefit. I consider this collection of songs their greatest studio recording. My rationale is based upon the diversity of the mix of music, the recording techniques chosen at the time (speeding up the tape on “Play In Time” for example) and the addition of John Evan on keyboards.
I saw the Benefit tour in 1970 at the Capitol Theater in Portchester, NY. I liked the nucleus of musicians and how at ease they all seemed that evening. Little did I realize that the bass player Glenn Cornick was growing disenchanted with the group and would leave by years end to form his own band, Wild Turkey.
In 1972, Ian Anderson wrote and recorded the Jethro Tull Progressive Rock classic album `Thick As A Brick’. The lyrics were credited at the time to the fictitious child character, Gerald Bostock, whose parents supposedly lied about his age. The record instantly became a number one Billboard Chart album and enjoyed considerable success in many countries of the world.
So, forty years on, what would Gerald Bostock – aged fifty in 2012 – be doing today? What might have befallen him? The anniversary “part two” album will examine the possible different paths that the precocious young schoolboy, Gerald Bostock, might have taken later in life through alter-ego characters with song-section identities illustrating the hugely varied potential twists and turns of fate and opportunity. Not just for Gerald but to echo how our own lives develop, change direction and ultimately conclude through chance encounters and interventions, however tiny and insignificant they might seem at the time.
It’s an exciting and inquisitive time for Jethro Tull fans. I have been a Jethro Tull fan since 1968. I just plugged back in to check up on what the latest happenings are with Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull. I was excited to see that Ian Anderson has decided to capitalize on the 40th anniversary of Thick as a Brick in 2012. I will buy the USA Special Edition and give TAAB2 a healthy listen. I will also buy a remastered edition of Thick as a Brick as a logical companion item.
I was surprised to learn that Martin Barre, the lead guitarist of Jethro Tull has left the band (for now). All indications are is that Martin Barre’s departure was an amicable split with Ian Anderson. Martin Barre was the lead guitarist from 1969 to 2011, 42 years. Martin Barre is leading a band called New Day which is playing Jethro Tull music and songs written by Martin Barre. From what I can best gather, Martin Barre would like to play Jethro Tull songs from his frame of reference instead of the same Jethro Tull setlist night after night with Jethro Tull. I wish Martin Barre the best with his choice and look forward to seeing him perform with New Day when US tour dates are established (hoping he does a NY or Connecticut concert date).
MARTIN BARRE’SNEW DAY features the music of Jethro Tull.
The band will be :
Martin Barre – guitar
Pat O’May – guitar/vocals
John Mitchell – vocals/guitar
John Noyce – bass
Frank Mead – flute/sax./harmonica/vocals
Geoff Dunn – drums
I will certainly play the biggies — ‘Locomotive Breathe,’ ‘Aqualung,’ ‘Cry you a Song,’ ‘Teacher,’ ‘Nothing to Say,’ ‘Home,’ ‘Minstrel in the Gallery.’ I’m throwing a few things in and there will be a lot of things that Jethro Tull hasn’t played for a long, long time. They will be played with two guitars and a sax and it’s really good. There is a huge catalog and I’m looking at songs like that, things people haven’t heard for many many years.
There will also be some of my solo stuff. I’m writing some new instrumentals so hopefully there will be two new ones. It won’t be just Jethro Tull songs (there will also be songs from some of the other musicians in this band). We’ll possibly have something from Bach but it won’t be [the Jethro Tull standard] ‘Bouree.’ I have a very difficult [flute] piece if I get the nerve.
It’s ironic that this amicable split between Martin Barre and Ian Anderson is followed by the Thick as a Brick world tour. When I read Martin Barre’s interview he is very clear in stating that the Jethro Tull concerts he was performing in were not deviating from a prescribed Jethro Tull set list. Ian Anderson and troupe will perform Thick as a Brick and TAAB2, which is a distinct shift away from the set list concern Martin Barre has expressed. Ian Anderson’s band is made up of the musicians that have accompanied him on the Rubbing Elbows tours. The new guitarist is Florian Opahle who has played with Ian Anderson since 2003.