Tull’s Ian Anderson Updates Statement on “Incurable Lung Disease”

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Ian Anderson in a 1972 promotional photo.

Jethro Tull leader Ian Anderson, who revealed in an interview with news legend Dan Rather that he suffers from the “incurable lung disease” COPD, has issued a new statement clarifying his condition.

In the original interview with Rather, which aired on AXS TV’s celebrity sit-down series The Big Interview, Anderson said, “I’m going to tell you something I’ve never told anybody in public before. Since it’s you, I will take this moment to say I am suffering from an incurable lung disease with which I was diagnosed a couple of years back. I do struggle. I have what are known as exacerbations: periods when I get an infection, it turns into severe bronchitis and I have maybe two or three weeks of really a tough job to go out there onstage and play. Fingers crossed, I’ve gone 18 months now without an exacerbation.”

Anderson went on to say, “My days are numbered.”

Photo by Amanda Taraska/News & Guts Media (used with permission)

The singer-songwriter-musician, who formed Jethro Tull in the late ’60s, added, “I’ve spent 50 years of my life onstage amongst those wretched things that I call smoke machines. Today they are lightly 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 that I have.”

Anderson also revealed that he recently self-quarantined in order to keep from becoming infected with Covid-19.

Related: Read our Album Rewind review of Tull’s Thick As a Brick

However, today (May 14), in response to the concern of fans, Anderson walked back some of his earlier statement.

“Thanks for your concern but no worries about my diagnosed COPD and asthma,” he said in a press release circulated by his publicist. “I have had 14 months with no infections and no bronchitis so last year was the first since my 20s when I didn’t get sick at all. The conditions I have are early-stage and I plan to keep them that way. I really meant when talking to Dan Rather last September that my days as a singer were numbered rather than days to live! After all, I am 73 years old this August! But I should be OK for a few more years if COVID doesn’t get me first.

“I am at no more risk of catching the COVID virus than anyone else. Just that the results could be much worse than if I was 17 or even 27,” he continued. “If anything, I am less likely to catch it than many people as I have been practicing very safe hygiene for years and social distancing is a way of life for me! I am well-rehearsed in public spaces, restaurants, hotels, etc. Only flying causes me concern. But I have all the best gels, sprays, masks and facial protection ready for if and when the time comes to embark into the real world professionally.

“A mild COPD or asthma are just things to live with for the millions around the world who suffer. But no impact at all on my daily life as long as I don’t catch a cold or flu virus and suffer the subsequent heavy bronchitis which, for me, historically follows since I was a young man. But on the upside I don’t suffer from hemorrhoids or erectile dysfunction. So, things are looking up, not down. (Puns fully intended.)

—Ian Anderson, May 14, 2020”

Watch a segment of Ian Anderson’s interview with Dan Rather

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  1. Mee2
    #1 Mee2 16 May, 2020, 01:22

    Always enjoyed the alternative sounds of the mellow Jethro Tull

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