Ian Anderson on the “key man” regarding the invention of metal

Meta Description: Explore Ian Anderson’s journey with Jethro Tull through various musical genres, including their surprising Grammy win in the metal category.

Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson and the Grammy-Winning Journey

Jethro Tull’s leader and only constant member, Ian Anderson, has witnessed and adapted to many musical trends over the decades. Despite dabbling in various genres such as jazz, folk, hard rock, and classical, the band has always maintained a unique sound, often associated with progressive rock.

Ian Anderson’s Musical Evolution

Ian Anderson, known for his iconic flute playing, has consistently brought a definitive creative vision to Jethro Tull. Throughout the 1960s, a time brimming with innovation, Anderson kept a close eye on other musical advancements. This era saw almost every notable band exploring unique sounds, driven by a desire to reject tradition and create fresh, contextually relevant music.

Jethro Tull’s Foray into Metal

Although Jethro Tull is primarily known for albums like Aqualung and Thick as a Brick, the band experimented with metal later in their career. Given their atmospheric edge and the importance of hard rock in their sound, it was a natural progression to embrace metal as it rose to prominence in the 1980s. This shift helped Jethro Tull stay relevant and align with the tastes of the time.

Grammy Upset: Beating Metallica

One of the most surprising moments in Jethro Tull’s history came with their 1987 album, Crest of a Knave. This album marked a significant departure from their earlier sound, incorporating more bombastic elements typical of the metal genre. In a notorious Grammy upset, Crest of a Knave beat Metallica’s …And Justice For All to win the 1989 award for ‘Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental.’

Connection with Black Sabbath

Ironically, this Grammy win also saw Anderson and Jethro Tull triumph over Black Sabbath, a band closely linked to the origins of metal. Black Sabbath didn’t win a Grammy until 2000, when they took home the award for ‘Best Metal Performance’ for ‘Iron Man’ from their Reunion live album. Interestingly, Tony Iommi, Black Sabbath’s guitar hero, had a brief stint with Jethro Tull in the late 1960s after impressing Anderson while performing with Sabbath’s early iteration, Earth.


Ian Anderson’s journey with Jethro Tull reflects a band unafraid to evolve and experiment with different musical styles. From their roots in progressive rock to their surprising foray into metal, Jethro Tull’s history is a testament to their versatility and Anderson’s unwavering creative vision. Their Grammy win for Crest of a Knave remains a highlight, showcasing their ability to adapt and succeed across genres.

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