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Ian Anderson Reveals Incurable Lung Disease to Dan Rather

Jethro Tull frontman cites smoke machines as probable cause

In a recent interview with Dan Rather on his AXS TV series The Big Interview, Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson revealed he suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

“I’m going to tell you something I’ve never told anybody in public before,” Anderson 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.”

“I do struggle,” he continued. “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 claimed that although his “days are numbered,” he’s on medication and does relatively fine in a pollution-free environment. He cites that a probable cause for his diagnosis is the smoke machines onstage.

“I’ve spent 50 years of my life onstage amongst those wretched things that I call smoke machines,” he told Rather, “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.”

The full episode of the interview, where Anderson also discusses his new album and playing the flute, airs on Wednesday on AXS TV at 8 pm E.T.

Anderson recently spoke with Rolling Stone about his time in quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic. He’s been in isolation at his home in southwest England, where he’s surrounded by 40,000 hardwood trees he planted himself.

“This is the time for reflection,” he said. “I think people should invest in understanding and learning to handle the truth. And the truth is not pretty, but in a way, you know, I’m an eternal optimist. I think we will get through this, but I hope we’ve learned some positive lessons along the way and that a year or two years from now that we look back on this and say, ‘Hey, you know, let’s continue to curb our relentless consumption of resources.’”