Ian Anderson has revealed that he is suffering from "an incurable lung disease" called COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
The JETHRO TULL frontman discussed his condition on an episode of Dan Rather's "The Big Interview", which will air Wednesday night (May 13) on AXS TV.
In a preview clip from the program, Anderson said: "I'm going to tell you something I've never told anybody in public before — I am suffering from an incurable lung disease which I was diagnosed with a couple of years back.
"I do struggle. 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 when it's really a tough job to go out there on stage and play.
"Fingers crossed, I've gone 18 months now without an exacerbation and I'm on medication. If I'm kept in a reasonably pollution-free environment in terms of air quality, I do okay. But my days are numbered.
"It's not yet at the point that it affects my day-to-day life — I can still run for the bus."
As for his prognosis, Anderson said: "Fight it all the way — keep using as much of your lung power as you're lucky enough to have and push it to the limit all the time. The minute you settle back and say, 'I can't do this any more,' it's a slippery slope. The answer is keep pushing."
Anderson went on to say that the disease is "opularly termed COPD, where you lose some of the ability of your lungs to give you enough oxygen. I spend 50 years of my life on stage among those wretched things that I call smoke machines," he explained. "Today, they're politely referred to as hazers, as if they're somehow innocent and not damaging to you lungs. I really do believe that's a very significant part of the problem I have."
Anderson formed a blues and jazz fusion band in the mid-60s and the name changed frequently until an agent, with an interest in history, booked them as JETHRO TULL, and the name stuck. Ian took up the flute, as he felt he would never match Eric Clapton as a guitarist as and, with a coat purchased to keep out the cold in a draughty bedsit, the image of the tousled, flute-wielding minstrel was born.
JETHRO TULL became one of the most distinctive and original bands to fall under the "progressive rock" umbrella and that still sets them apart as one of the best-loved bands of the genre.