Jethro Tull on The Rolling Stones’ Rock And Roll Circus and ‘A Song For Jeffrey’: “It has a directness!”

Ian Anderson and co recall their early years

Trending Now

Order the latest issue of Uncut online and have it sent to your home!

ELLIS: I remember being on the set while the were doing the recording, and Ian rushing over with Mick Jagger in tow, and them sitting down with me, and Mick saying, “We’re gonna take the whole thing on the road, and do a concert tour with all the bands, and we want Tull to be involved.” I said, “Sounds great”, but it never happened.

BUNKER: After the Circus, Tony phoned me up and said, “Do you wanna come and see my band?” They were called Earth. I went to see them, and there was this banner behind the stage that said, ‘Ex-Jethro Tull guitar player, Tony Iommi’ – I thought that was brilliant! [laughs] That was just before they turned into Sabbath.


ANDERSON: I think we played “Jeffrey” onstage a few times back then, but it was long forgotten for many, many years.

HAMMOND: I can’t recall playing “Jeffrey” – I think that it would have had to have been sometime in 1970 or ’71 if we did so.

ANDERSON: Of course, Jeffrey got a couple more songs along the way which mentioned his name. But they’re not really songs about Jeffrey – when you’re coming up with characters and ideas, it’s a very painterly thing. Putting people into a landscape is more interesting than simply portraiture or landscape painting. I like context with people, I like to put people in a place where they can interact, a context that explains a little about them. And though “A Song For Jeffrey” is lyrically simplistic and not one of my finest moments, it has a directness. From 1970, Jeffrey enjoyed five glorious years of playing with Jethro Tull, but he knew he didn’t belong in that world, so he went back to being a solitary painter. He finally held the first exhibition of his work, just recently in a gallery in Lytham St Annes. All these years later, finally, he came out and said, “I’ve been doing a bit of painting!”




Written by: Ian Anderson
Performers: Ian Anderson (vocals, flute, harmonica), Mick Abrahams (guitar), Clive Bunker (drums), Glenn Cornick (bass)
Produced by: Terry Ellis and Jethro Tull
Recorded at: Sound Techniques, Chelsea, London
Released: Late 1968
Charts: UK – / US –



Anderson, Hammond and John Evan form The Blades in Blackpool

Anderson moves down to London, and Jethro Tull are formed in December

June 1968
The quartet enter Sound Techniques studio to record their debut album, This Was, released in October

Jeffrey Hammond joins Tull as bassist

The June 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from April 18, and available to order online now – with Pink Floyd on the cover. The issue comes with a unique 15-track CD curated for Uncut by The National, who also speak exclusively to us inside the issue. Elsewhere, you’ll find Scott Walker, Bob Dylan, Primal Scream, JJ Cale, Cate Le Bon, Peter Perrett, Aretha Franklin, Mac DeMarco, Dinosaur Jr, Dylan Carson, Africa Express and much more.



Latest Issue