February 1968: Jethro Tull Play "First" Show

Jethro Tull in New York, 1968
Photo Credit
PoPsie Randolph/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Picture it: London, 1968. Picture it even more specifically: the stage of London’s Marquee Club on February 2, 1968.

It was on this date and on that stage where Jethro Tull could be found performing their first live show...sort of. To clarify, the band that could effectively be called Jethro Tull was already doing dates on the London club circuit in late 1967, but they apparently had a bit of a problem securing second gigs at most venues, which led them to constantly change their name.

Candy Coloured Rain, Ian Henderson’s Bag o’ Nails, and Navy Blue were all names that Ian Anderson and his bandmates played under, but after someone on the staff of their booking agency gave them the name “Jethro Tull” and they ended up securing a second gig, they decided to stick with it.

It’s perhaps worth mentioning that this show at the Marquee Club wasn’t a headlining gig for Jethro Tull. Indeed, they were opening for Savoy Brown, who were enjoying some minor success from the release of their debut album, Shake Down.

Jethro Tull, on the other hand, hadn’t yet released so much as a single, although they had, in fact, recorded their soon-to-be-released debut single, “Sunshine Day,” in January 1968. Two weeks from the date of their first concert under their new name, however, the band would release the single in question, which would, uh, completely and totally fail to chart. As would their second single, “A Song for Jeffrey,” for that matter. It wouldn’t be until “Love Song,” their third single, that the band would find their way into the UK Singles chart, hitting No. 29.

But here’s the happy ending: by the middle of ’69, Jethro Tull would successfully score their first Top 5 U.K. hit with the legendary “Living in the Past,” properly kicking off a career that’s still in process even to this day.

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