“I am Jethro Tull's guitar player. I was, I am now, and I always will be”: Martin Barre says he remains the prog legends’ guitarist, despite Ian Anderson’s insistence on touring under the ’Tull name

Martin Barre (left) and Ian Anderson
(Image credit: Future / Mondadori Portfolio /Getty Images)

Martin Barre has said he still views himself as Jethro Tull’s guitarist, whether he is touring under the band name or not. 

In a new interview with YouTube channel VRP Rocks [below], Barre discusses his 2011 departure from the iconic UK prog band, after more than 40 years of sharing stages with frontman Ian Anderson.

“Essentially, Ian talked and I listened,” says Barre of the conversation that led to his departure. “So you can draw your own conclusions.”

Now, Barre says he’s happy with the success he’s had as a bandleader in his own right, but he laments the loss of his connection with Anderson.

“It's a shame,” says Barre. “I think of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart. The connections. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. 

“I'm not saying that we're in that league, but me and Ian had a connection, much more than music, and it's gone forever. And that's really sad.”

The guitarist joined the band in 1969 following the release of their first album and played on all of the band’s biggest records, including Aqualung and their US chart toppers, Thick As A Brick and A Passion Play.

Following the split, Anderson and Barre both initially toured under their own names, but that changed in 2017, when Anderson revived the Tull name, rebadging his solo group ahead of a 50th anniversary retrospective tour.

“It's the worst business decision that was ever made in the history of Jethro Tull,” says Barre. 

“Because you look around and you see people doing these huge [tours]. It's not just about the money, but the attention you get. Because the brand is now so diluted. It's a real shame, and I feel that the way it's been diluted has an impact on us all.

“I am Jethro Tull's guitar player. I was, I am now, and I always will be. The same as Ian will always be the singer and flute player of Jethro Tull. No band I have will ever be Jethro Tull, it can't be. 

“In my mind, there isn't a Jethro Tull. There's Ian's band, there's my band, and we have one person each from the core, important Jethro Tull era.”

For more from the Jethro Tull guitarist, including the time he supported Jimi Hendrix, recording Aqualung and his beloved guitars, check out Guitar World’s 2015 interview with Barre .

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Matt Parker

Matt is a staff writer for GuitarWorld.com. Before that he spent 10 years as a freelance music journalist, interviewing artists for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.