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"JETHRO TULL AND ME"

by legendary music promoter Ron Watts

08-08-2006

The Stirrer is delighted to bring you an exclusive serialisation of music promoter Ron Watts' autobiography. Ron is famous - maybe even notorious - for having organised the first punk rock festival at the 100 Club in London featuring the Sex pistols, The Clash and The Damned. But as this installment in his life story shows, a Jethro Tull gig at the Nags Head in Wycombe several years earlier provided his big breakthrough.

"One of the first acts I booked who weren't strictly blues was Jethro Tull, in May 1968, and I learnt something with this particular promotion that stood me in good stead later on.

The normal price of admission was six shillings, but rather than reduce the price for an unknown band as Tull were then, I charged six shillings and sixpence (around 32p).

I gambled that people would think that the higher price meant that Tull were well-known, and potential customers would be too embarrassed to admit to their friends that they'd never heard of the night's star attraction.

The gamble worked, the place was full and Tull did a great set, with their charismatic singer Ian Anderson showing that he'd make it as one of the most enduring stars of his era.

Then again, a 6ft tall guy with a beard playing a flute while standing on one leg is always going to make an impression wherever he is.

Six months later Tull's first album This Was had made the top ten album charts and the band had been the hit of that summer's festival circuit.

People were coming up to me in awe, saying ‘You booked them, and they became stars.'

It was nothing to do with me, I'd hardly heard of Jethro Tull when they played the Nag's, but they helped me get a reputation for being able to spot up and coming acts.

That meant people were happy to see bands they didn't know because they thought that a few weeks later they'd be watching Top Of The Pops and telling everyone they'd seen all those performers playing at the Nag's.”

"Hundred Watts - A Life In Music" is available for £7.99 including p&p from heroes Publishing, P.O. Box 1703, Birmingham B42 1UZ. More details at www.heroespublishing.co.uk

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