Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson has revealed in a video interview on Dan Rather's XS TV series The Big Interview that he suffers from an "incurable" lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which he believes is a result of playing shows with smoke machines for 50 years.
"I’m going to tell you something I’ve never told anybody in public before," he said. "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. And 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."
He also says that his "days are numbered," but that he's on medication and adds, "If I'm kept in a reasonably pollution-free environment in terms of air quality, I do okay. It's not yet at the point that it affects my everyday life."
"I’ve spent 50 years of my life onstage amongst those wretched things that I call smoke machines [that] are lightly referred to as ‘hazers.’ As if they’re somehow innocent and not damaging to your lungs. And I really do believe that’s a very significant part of the problem that I have, because I'm breathing in - I take ten breaths every breath a bass player takes... that's a slight exaggeration but you know what I mean, I'm physically - I'm aerobic for two hours on stage, so I'm taking in a huge amount of whatever's in the air."
Hang in there, Ian, we're pulling for you!!
You can watch the full interview:
Ian also recently spoke to Rolling Stone about life in quarantine:
I’m actually really busy because we are in the process of rescheduling all of our shows. In terms of manpower and hours, it’s probably taking twice as long as it took to set up the shows in the first place.
I’m fortunate, you know — I can understand this would probably annoy a lot of people, understandably, who are locked down in the apartment or the city-dwelling with nowhere to go. I’m in touch with a lot of them friends and acquaintances and other musicians who simply can’t leave their homes. I’m fortunate to live in the countryside; we live on a working farm. So, we have a few hundred acres of fields of woodlands and no shortage of space to enjoy the hopefully imminent spring. So, that breaks up the day — taking the dogs for a walk or taking the cat for a walk and generally enjoying where I live.
[...] If I do listen to music, it tends to be mostly classical music. Handel, Beethoven, Mozart, interspersed occasionally with ZZ Top.
Ian was also recently interviewed by Classic Rock, and he discussed the infamous moment when Jethro Tull beat Metallica for the first-ever Best Hard Rock / Metal Performance Grammy in 1989:
I didn’t think it was very likely that we would win the Grammy, and yes I was a little perplexed and amused when we were nominated in that category. Our record company told us: “Don’t bother coming to the Grammys. Metallica will win it for sure.”
My view is that we weren’t given the Grammy for being the best hard rock or metal act, we were given it for being a bunch of nice guys who’d never won a Grammy before. And there wasn’t an award for the world’s best one-legged flute player, otherwise I’d have to buy several more fireplaces to have enough mantelpiece space for all the trophies.
Revisit Jethro Tull's historic Rock and Roll Circus performance with Tony Iommi on guitar: