Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson reveals that he’s “suffering from an incurable lung disease” during a chat Wednesday with host Dan Rather on the AXS TV series The Big Interview.
The 72-year-old singer/flutist says in a preview clip that he was diagnosed “a couple of years back” with COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which affects the lungs’ ability to provide oxygen.
“I do struggle,” Anderson admits. “I have what are called exacerbations, periods when…I get an infection that turns into severe bronchitis, and I have maybe two or three weeks of really, really a tough job to go out there on stage and play.”
Asked how he’s doing, Anderson reports, “Fingers crossed, I’ve gone 18 months now without an exacerbation. I’m on medication. If I’m kept in a reasonably pollution-free environment in terms of air quality, I do OK. But my days are numbered.”
Regarding his approach to living with COPD, Anderson notes, “Fight it all the way…Keep using as much of your lung power as you are lucky enough to have.”
Anderson tells Rather that he believes performing shows for decades with smoke machines is at least partly to blame for his condition. “I spent 50 years of my life on stage amongst those wretched things,” Ian notes. “I really do believe that’s a very significant part of the problem that I have.”
In a separate preview clip, Anderson explains why, after starting out as a guitarist, he switched to playing the flute.
“When I heard Eric Clapton I [decided] to be a flute player,” Ian says, “because I knew I was never gonna be able to match…Clapton in skill or ability.
The Big Interview with Anderson premieres Wednesday, May 13, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on AXS TV.
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