August 27, 2014 – Glenn Cornick (Jethro Tull) was born on April 23rd 1947 in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, England.
He attended Grammar school in that town, before taking up guitar, aged fifteen. Turning to the bass a year later, he left home and the local band scene and fled to the brighter city lights of Blackpool.
Glenn then played with a number of Blackpool-based groups including “The Executives”, a club cover band which played the hotels and clubs on a regular and almost professional basis as in 5 to 6 gigs a week.
Inspite of the financial steadiness with the Executives, he joined the John Evan’s Smash Band in 1966 which enjoyed maybe one gig a week, just before the point when the group was to attempt the brave move to seek full-time work in the south of England as a seven-piece Blues and Soul Band.
After the other band members called it a day (having endured two whole weeks in abysmal circumstances in Luton, Bedfordshire), Glenn and Ian Anderson decided to continue with Mick Abrahams and Clive Bunker, two semi-heroes of the local music scene, in the band which was to become, after various name changes, Jethro Tull in February, 1968.
“This Was“, “Stand Up” and “Benefit” were to feature the personable and idiosyncratic style of Glenn Cornick during the next three years in which he played his important role in the early years of Tull, since he was the only one with some musical training.
Cornick was a figure of striking eccentricity as well: wearing glasses and a bowler that he later traded for an Indian-cloth headband and a wild stage presence.
The bassist also had a co-writing credit as Len Barnard on the B-side of Tull’s first single, “Aeroplane” (mistakenly issued as Jethro Toe), and he was a consistent, compositional force on the early albums, often running in sturdy, melodic counterpoint to the flute and guitars. In a band that actually functioned in those first years like a power trio under Anderson, Cornick’s robust doubling of riff played by Abrahams and (starting with Stand Up) his replacement Martin Barre on lead guitar was a grounding force, keeping Anderson’s progressive writing rooted in blues movement and muscle.
Cornick was, as it turned out, not destined to be in Tull for long. Two of his signature performances, “Song for Jeffrey” and “Jeffrey Goes to Leicester Square,” were named after Jeffrey Hammond, Anderson’s grammar-school friend, one of Cornick’s predecessors in the John Evan Smash and, finally, his successor in Tull when Cornick, chafing under Anderson’s hardening grip, left at the end of 1970.
After leaving Jethro Tull, Cornick played as a session musician for Leigh Stephens on his 1971 album And a Cast of Thousands.
Ever the party animal, Glenn had grown apart from the other band members by 1970. This was a reflection, not of Glenn’s social waywardness, but of the reclusive and insular nature of the other guys’ rather private and atypical lifestyles. Glenn was “invited to leave” by manager Terry Ellis but given due support and encouragement to form his own Chrysalis Records signed band “Wild Turkey” which enjoyed some success with records and tours supporting, amongst others, Jethro Tull.
After Wild Turkey, he then moved, first to Berlin where he played in a band called “Karthago” with whom he recorded one album Rock and Roll Testament before forming “Paris” with Bob Welch, ex-Fleetwood Mac guitarist. This partnership continued until 1977 when Glenn gave up music for about ten years, moving to the US and becoming the sales manager for a food company.
In 1996, Cornick participated in a Jethro Tull tribute, called To Cry You A Song – A collection of Tull Tales, playing on the songs “Nothing Is Easy”, “To Cry You a Song”, “New Day Yesterday”, “Teacher” and “Living in the Past”, together with the former Tull members Clive Bunker, Mick Abrahams and Dave Pegg and together with John Wetton, Glenn Hughes, Robby Steinhardt, Wolfstone and Keith Emerson.
In the early 2000s two live Wild Turkey albums were released, Final Performance (2000) and Live In Edinburgh (2001) and in 2006 the fourth studio album, You and Me in the Jungle, was recorded by Cornick, Pickford-Hopkins, Dyche and Gurl, who had all appeared on earlier albums. They were joined by Graham Williams (ex-Racing Cars) (guitar), John “Pugwash” Weathers (percussion) and Clive Bunker (ex-Jethro Tull) (drums) all of whom had played with Cornick in the past.
Glenn continued to play music in a variety of projects, as he had moved to the island of Hilo in the Hawaiian Archipellago where he passed away from heart failure on August 27, 2014 at the age of 67.
“His background in the beat groups of the North of England and his broad knowledge of music was always helpful in establishing the arrangements of the early Tull,” Anderson said of Cornick in a tribute on Jethro Tull’s website. The front and center evidence on this playlist: the opening dance of bass and flute in “Bourée,” Anderson’s popular adaption of Bach’s “Bourée in E Minor” on Stand Up.