Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson Regrets Not Fulfilling Frank Zappa’s Dying Wish

Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson recently had an interview and talked about the 70’s British music scene, Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa. Ian mentioned Frank and Beefheart’s close, yet brief friendship and emphasized their different personalities:

“I know that obviously Frank Zappa and Beefheart were briefly joined at the hip, for a week or a month maximum. But they fell out, everybody fell out with Don Van Vliet. Frank, everybody had a huge loyalty to all the musicians he played with, everybody spoke really highly of him and his scales and his ability.”

Back in the day, Zappa was resentful of British bands like Jethro Tull, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin due to his own band, Mother of Inventions’ financial struggles. Ian shared how he felt about Frank’s negative opinions, then told the turning point in their relationship, when Frank was diagnosed with cancer:

“He wrote scathingly about some of the British bands of that era, like Led Zeppelin or Jethro Tull, for example. And I took it a little bit hard because I was a big Zappa fan in the early 70s, and then you’re suddenly hearing that your hero thinks very very little of you and your work.

It’s a little disappointing, but I put it aside until much later on when I heard Frank Zappa was suffering from terminal prostate cancer, and I got a call from one of his ex-musicians, saying ‘Hey, Frank wants you to call him.’ And I said, ‘Really? I don’t know Frank.’ And he said, ‘This is his phone number, and you know, he’d really like to speak to you.'”

The frontman continued telling what he did, or couldn’t do, with Frank’s phone number and shared his reasoning:

“So I write down the phone number and on three different occasions I dialed his phone number from some hotel room in the middle of America and before it could pick up, I panicked and put the phone down because I don’t know what you say to a dying man you’ve never met before.”

Ian also shared his feelings about never bringing himself to call Zappa, therefore not fulfilling Frank’s wish before he died:

“And I just didn’t have the guts to do it, which I deeply, deeply regret to this day that I didn’t speak to Frank because I don’t know what he wanted me to say but maybe he just wanted to say hi, you know. And we never met, and now we never will. So, it was a poignant moment that I unfortunately chickened out of and I deeply regret that.”

Despite any unpopular opinion, Jethro Tull is up and running since 1967. The band released an album ‘RökFlöte‘ this April, and they are on tour this Fall, starting from September 7 until May 6, 2024.

Below you can watch the whole interview.