With Blodwyn Pig, guitarist/singer Mick Abrahams played with rock and prog’s biggest names and turned the group into festival stars who had the world at their feet – and then the frontman got fired from his own band. Prog gets the inside story behind the
As their two albums are reissued we catch up with guitarist Mick Abrahams.
There’s a moment during this meeting when Mick Abrahams gets rather emotional and has to choke back the tears. It’s understandable, because we’re talking about his poor health. “I had two heart attacks and a stroke almost at the same time [in November 2009]. Those have left their mark on me. I’m using a mobility scooter today because sometimes I find it hard to walk. And my speech can be a little slow. But I’m not paralysed, thank goodness. I’m still a rock’n’roller, I love a Jack Daniel’s [he even has a glass in his hand to prove the point] and I can appreciate an attractive woman. So, it could be worse.
“But it has affected my guitar playing. I doubt I’ll ever play live again,” he adds. “I watched a DVD recently of me onstage with Blodwyn Pig. I found myself saying, ‘Blimey, that guy can play a bit!’ Because it seemed as if I was watching a different person. These days, I can join in a bit on guitar with others, but nowhere near the level I was once able to achieve. That upsets me.”
Abrahams first got into the spotlight in 1967 as a co-founder of Jethro Tull. He was the guitarist on the band’s 1968 debut This Was before being… well, was he fired or did he quit?
“Listen, this is what happened. I got very pissed off with Ian Anderson, who saw Tull as his band, and he wasn’t prepared to let anyone else voice their opinion on what was going on,” he explains. “So I left. But what I told them at the time was that I’d stay on until they found a replacement for me, because there was no way I wanted to leave them in the shit. A short while later, I was called to a meeting at the office of Terry Ellis, the band’s manager. You know what he said to me? ‘Ian and the boys don’t want you in the band any more so you’ve been fired.’ I just replied to
Terry, ‘How can you fire me when I quit three weeks ago?
Just go fuck yourself!’”
Thankfully, relations between Abrahams and Anderson are a lot more amicable these days. “I even get on well now with Terry,” he says. “Actually, Ian’s manager, his son James, has been helping me out a lot recently. What a great bloke. I told Ian that I thought James was a credit to him, and that not only was he a very nice person, but thoroughly honest and truthful. You might have thought Ian would be happy to hear such praise for his own flesh and blood. Instead he said, ‘So what? That’s the least I would expect from him.’ Typical Ian!”
After leaving Tull, Abrahams put together his own band, featuring Jack Lancaster (saxophone/flute), Andy Pyle (bass) and Ron Berg (drums). Abrahams himself handled vocals. Taking the name Blodwyn Pig, they released debut album Ahead Rings Out in 1969, which reached No.9 in the UK chart, underlining the feeling that this band could be a force in their own right.
“From the beginning of Blodwyn
Pig I had a vision for what I wanted,”
“The band were introduced as being ‘avant-garde’. It would have been closer to the point to call us ‘’aven’t a fucking clue’!”
Abrahams explains. “Essentially I’ve always thought of myself as a blues player, but with a little country, jazz and other styles thrown in for good measure. I never wanted us to be seen as performing one type of music or another. However, we inevitably began to get lumped in with certain other