AXS TV's 'Big Interview' sneak peek: Ian Anderson explains how Eric Clapton inspired him to play the flute on May 13
Amanda Taraska/News and Guts Media

AXS TV’s popular original series “The Big Interview with Dan Rather” returns this Wednesday, May 13 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. Renowned Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson sits down with Rather to discuss his prolific career.

In a sneak peek video clip of the upcoming installment, Anderson explains how his impression of Eric Clapton’s guitar playing prowess prompted him to play the flute.

He says, “When I heard Eric Clapton, I wanted to be a flute player because I knew I was never gonna be able to match Eric Clapton – and it doesn’t necessarily have to be the flute. It’s just that I knew I wasn’t gonna be in that league as a guitar player. Not without another few years which I didn’t think I had.”

The fact that a wind instrument isn’t typically considered a standard instrument in a blues-rock band didn’t deter Anderson from playing it in their band. He worked hard (without lessons) to find a way to incorporate it into their live performances.

“I couldn’t get a note out of it for some months. In fact, it was about four months before the penny dropped. It’s like blowing into the top of an empty beer bottle and it will produce a resonant note,” the Scottish native music says. “Suddenly, I got a note. I think it was a 'G' and I thought wow! Then I got an 'F' and I found an 'E.' Then I had the pentatonic scale and I could play the blues.”

He adds, “I found a way to make it work by singing and grunting the notes in a very forceful way, which they wouldn’t teach if you went to your music teacher and said, ‘Teach me how to play the flute.’ They’re not going to teach you that stuff, with good reason.”

Jethro Tull is a legendary British blues-rock/prog rock band that has been churning out hits for multiple decades. The group broke out in 1969 with the huge success of their blues-rock album Stand Up. The album topped the UK Albums Chart and hit the Top 20 on the Billboard 200 chart in the U.S.

Rather and Anderson cover a long list of topics during their candid conversation. Anderson also reveals for the first time that he’s battling an “incurable lung disease.” He’s focused on pushing forward and continuing to perform instead of giving up in the face of his COPD.

He also shares his surprise in discovering the real-life Jethro Tull and reveals why not performing at Woodstock was a great career move. He also talks about his work as a climate change activist, his new biography “The Ballad of Jethro Tull,” gives a new album update, and more.

Be sure to tune in to AXS TV for the all-new episode “The Big Interview” on Wednesday, May 13 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT to catch all of their intimate conversation. Find AXS TV on your TV.