Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson has revealed that he has been suffering from an "incurable lung disease." The rocker and flutist spoke about his condition to Dan Rather on The Big Interview.
"I do struggle," Anderson said in a clip from the show, via Variety. "I have what are called exacerbation periods where I get an infection, and it turns into severe bronchitis, and I have maybe two or three weeks of [it being] really a tough job to go onstage and play." He also identified his condition as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a disease that obstructs airflow from the lungs.
Along with the reveal, Anderson also discussed how he had gone 18 months without an exacerbation. He added that he had been treating his condition by medicating, avoiding polluted areas wherever possible and continuing to keep his lungs fit by pushing them to their limits. "It's not yet at the point that it affects my day-to-day life. I can still run for the bus."
As far as what he thinks caused his condition, Anderson blamed it on decades of touring and the fog machines he often used onstage. "I've spent 50 years of my life onstage among those wretched things that I call smoke machines," he said. "Today, they're politely referred to as hazers, as if they're somehow innocent and not damaging to your lungs. I really do believe that's a very significant part of the problem I have."
Anderson is the founder and only original member of the band Jethro Tull, which mixed elements of prog-rock with folk music, tied together with Anderson's signature vocals and flute playing. Back in 1989, the group ended up making history at the Grammy Awards.
That year, the category of Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance, Vocal or Instrumental was a new addition to the awards show. At the time, most viewers were pretty confident that Metallica would take the trophy home for ...And Justice For All. However, the academy hadn't quite nailed down what "metal" was just yet. As a result, the award went to Jethro Tull for their album, Crest of a Knave.
Jethro Tull formed in Lancashire, England back in 1967, and toured through the 2010s, although Anderson had billed his touring acts as "Jethro Tull by Ian Anderson." Over their storied career, they've influenced bands ranging from Iron Maiden to Pearl Jam to Rush.