Sunday, 31 August 2014

Glenn Cornick 23 April 1947 – 28 August 2014

Glenn was one of the first of the few genuine rock stars I ever got to know properly. I had met a lot of "names", but it was always a face to face interview - in and out in minutes - or over the telephone. Glenn and his family stayed with us in the UK twice. I also arranged for him to do a gig, and given its limited scope, it went down a storm.

What was he like?  He had simple tastes. When he came over here, often his first port of call was Devon and Somerset, where he would lay in several flagons of Scrumpy. He had a collection of guitars somewhere (I can't remember where) and would visit them, as you do someone in hospital. He would always try and visit Cumbria and Barrow in Furness. For food, he craved fish and chips and pies. I once made the mistake of serving him and his family chilli con carne. A mistake because his wife, Brigitte, is something of an expert at making it. They were very polite about it! More about Brigitte, later.

When I saw him, he was still living in Los Angeles, though he did talk about moving to Hawaii. His only real connection with the UK was a house in Barnes that he bought for £6000 at the height of his Jethro Tull fame. Oddly enough, it had a sitting tenant in it and therefore was not much use as an income stream when the royalties from the Tull albums became little more than pocket money.

Like all people, Glenn was a collection of sometimes conflicting traits. He was open and often generous, thoughtful and really quite modest. And yet he could get into a foul temper
and managed to fall out with most of the other ex-members of Tull (regardless of what they now say in public) He had poor relationships with his sons and four wives are a testimony to his lack of success in marriage. Brigitte was and is a bit of a saint. She understood Glenn and did her best, even when he was sent by the local authorities to anger management classes, after a particularly unpleasant episode.

The big question, the one that everybody asks, is, "Why did you leave Jethro Tull?"

One evening, over a drink (he really did not drink much at all, despite the liking for cider) he told me that it still hurt him after all these years. Glenn learned he was no longer in Jethro Tull whilst waiting to board a plane for home from America. The then manager, Terry Ellis, handed him his ticket. Glen asked where the others were and he was told he was out.

That is how he told it to me. He was grateful to Ellis that a deal was done pretty soon after that to get a band together and record an album. This resulted in the formation of Wild Turkey.

Glenn always found it hard to be pleasant about Ian Anderson. He occasionally copied me in to emails from Anderson, when Jethro Tull was having one of its periodic get-togethers. The fact is, there was no love lost between them and Glenn was justifiably aggrieved when the original members were brought together for a recording, with no chance to rehearse properly. (Glenn said acidly that Ian was more concerned about dyeing his beard)

I have to say that I never got to know Glenn well, but I suspect nobody did. He brooded over Tull for the rest of his life and the subsequent fall from fame (where else but down?) was something that no man is equipped to deal with. He did however, attend fan conventions with a great deal of enthusiasm, and enjoyed doing them. When I put on a gig for him, local musicians and fans were ecstatic. He was a great performer and musician.

Musically, and this is where I came in, Glenn's contribution to Jethro Tull was absolutely pivotal. His mischievous, melodic bass lines gave early Tull a sound that was matchless, and it made a novel and unique transition from pure blues to something wholly other. His favourite Tull album was Benefit. This is where he was able to excel artistically, as far as he was allowed. My personal opinion was and still is, that he was one of the most inventive bass players of all time.

In my attic there are piles of demos, many of them early workings for his last Wild Turkey album. In is kindness, Glenn went to a great deal of trouble to share the process with me and we enjoyed a long and fascinating correspondence over the years. I was aware of his health problems. It is sad that the situation clearly worsened.

Latterly, our correspondence declined. Recently, I thought I would drop him a line, but never did. All I know is, that despite the occasional hiccup over certain things, Glenn would have replied.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I had puzzled for years over a couple of Wild Turkey songs I'd heard when I saw the band ca. 1973/4 (my first ever concert), but couldn't name - as neither were on the first two (excellent) albums. A few years ago,I emailed Glenn, and was delighted to receive a friendly and thoughtful reply from him in return. I actually bought my treasured Gibson EB3 because of Glenn Cornick's playing. A wonderfully melodic bassist. Sorry to have learned of his passing.