Jethro Tull's front man, Ian Anderson, formed his first band, called The Blades, in 1963. The group evolved into the seven-member John Evan Band by 1966 and ultimately became Jethro Tull when the John Evan Band merged with McGregor's Engine in 1968. Jethro Tull began touring the British pub circuit and eventually attracted a decent following.
Jethro Tull was signed to the Ellis-Wright agency in 1968 and released their first album, This Was, later that same year. This Was achieved moderate success, but the follow up album, Stand Up (1969) climbed to the number one position on the UK charts and peaked at number 20 in the US. By this time, it was clear that Jethro Tull was heading in a new musical direction, which became known as "progressive rock." Other progressive rock bands included King Crimson, Yes, The Nice, and Genesis.
In 1971, Jethro Tull released their best known work, Aqualung. The album was paired with an extremely successful American tour and was followed up with the almost equally successful album, Thick as a Brick (1972). While Jethro Tull remained extremely popular among fans, their popularity with the critics began to wane after the release of A Passion Play (1973). Jethro Tull's next several albums, War Child (1974), Minstrel in the Gallery (1975), and Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die! (1976), all sold fairly well but did not climb as high on the charts as their previous albums did.
Jethro Tull has experimented with various styles of music throughout their forty year career, including folk rock, as in the albums Songs from the Wood (1977), Heavy Horses (1978), and Stormwatch (1979). They also played electronic rock, including the albums A (1980), Broadsword and the Beast (1982), and Under Wraps (1984); and hard rock, such as the albums Crest of a Knave (1987), Rock Island (1989), and Catfish Rising (1991). Currently, Jethro Tull is experimenting with world music influences, which is apparent on the albums Roots to Branches (1995) and J-Tull Dot Com (1999). Overall, Jethro Tull has produced over thirty albums, eleven of which were certified gold and five of which went platinum.
Through the years, Jethro Tull has maintained their popularity by becoming one of the greatest concert draws in the world. The band members engage in flamboyant stage theatrics and wear extravagant, albeit strange, costumes. On past tours, Ian Anderson became known for frolicking across the stage with his flute, while the other members dressed up in clown suits, zebra costumes, and even exchanged pants on stage. Who knows what the current Jethro Tull concert series has in store.