FAME BEYOND THE MUSIC
Who was Tamam Shud?
Who was Jethro Tull?
Says Wikipedia: Tamam Shud is an Australian psychedelic, progressive and surf rock band, which formed in Newcastle in 1964. The initial line-up was known as Four Strangers with Eric Connell on bass guitar, Dannie Davidson on drums, Gary Johns on rhythm guitar and Alex “Zac” Zytnik on lead guitar. At the end of that year Johns was replaced by Lindsay Bjerre on guitar and vocals as they trimmed their name to the Strangers. By late 1965 they had become the Sunsets. They took the name Tamam Shud in late 1967 after replacing Connell with Peter Barron on bass guitar. The group released two albums, Evolution (1969) – after which Tim Gaze replaced Zytnik on lead guitar – and Goolutionites and the Real People (1970) before disbanding in 1972. After a lengthy hiatus they reformed in 1993 to release a third album, Permanent Culture in 1994, but disbanded again in 1995. Beginning in 2008 the group worked together periodically on new material: it took eight years to complete their fourth album, Eight Years of Moonlight (January 2016).
Says Wikipedia: Jethro Tull is an English rock band formed in Blackpool, Lancashire, in 1967. Initially playing blues rock, the band developed its sound to incorporate elements of British folk music and hard rock to forge a progressive rock signature. The band is led by vocalist/flautist/guitarist Ian Anderson, and featured a revolving door of lineups through the years including significant members such as longtime guitarist Martin Barre, keyboardist John Evan, drummers Clive Bunker, Barriemore Barlow, and Doane Perry, and bassists Glenn Cornick, Jeffrey Hammond, and Dave Pegg. The group first achieved commercial success in 1969, with the folk-tinged blues album Stand Up, which reached No. 1 in the UK, and they toured regularly in the UK and the US. Their musical style shifted in the direction of progressive rock with the albums Aqualung (1971), Thick as a Brick (1972) and A Passion Play (1973), and shifted again to hard rock mixed with folk rock with Songs from the Wood (1977) and Heavy Horses (1978). They have been described by Rolling Stone as “one of the most commercially successful and eccentric progressive rock bands”. The last works as a group to contain new material were released in 2003, though the band continued to tour until 2011. Though Anderson said Jethro Tull were finished in 2014, he announced a tour in September 2017 (without Barre or Perry) and a new studio album in 2018 to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of their first, This Was (1968).
Fact stranger than fiction
The Tamam Shud case, also known as “Tthe Mystery of the Somerton Man”, was an unsolved case of a body found on 1 December 1948, at Somerton Beach, south of Adelaide, in South Australia. The name derives from the Persian phrase ta mám shud, meaning “ended” or “finished”, which was printed on a piece of paper found months later in the pocket of the man’s trousers. The scrap had been torn from the final page of a copy of Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, written in the 12th-century by Omar Khayyam.
The man had no identification on him, just an unused rail ticket, a bus ticket, a comb, gum, cigarettes, and the scrap of paper from the book. He wore a smart brown suit. Sitting on his collar was a half-smoked cigarette.
Who was he, where was he from, how did he die? The body was buried in 1949; the headstone simply said “the unknown man.”
But 72 years after the body was found there was a breakthrough.
Adelaide University researcher Derek Abbott believes the unknown man found slumped and lifeless at Adelaide’s Somerton Beach was Carl “Charles” Webb, a 43-year-old engineer and instrument maker.
The case was one of Australia’s most enduring mysteries because of strange clues linked to it, including a suspected code and a book of Persian poems.
The mystery man’s remains were exhumed in 2021 by South Australian police, but Professor Abbott kept going with his own independent investigations.
He said after using hairs from a plaster bust of the man to gather DNA evidence, researchers in Australia and America had further narrowed the search “to build out a family tree containing over 4,000 people”.
Working with American investigator Colleen Fitzpatrick, Professor Abbott said that, in March 2022 their suspicions identified Webb, who was born in 1905 but later identified “as a person with no death record”.
Professor Abbott spokes about his work to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. He said Webb was born in Footscray on 16 November 1905 to Richard August Webb (1866-1939) and Eliza Amelia Morris Grace (1871-1946).
He said their investigations had also found a link to the name “T Keane” which was printed on the Somerton Man’s tie.
“It turns out that Carl Webb had a brother-in-law called Thomas Keane, who lived just 20 minutes drive away from him in Victoria,” he said.
“So it’s not out of the question that these items of clothing he had with T Keane on them were just hand-me-downs from his brother-in-law.”
Professor Abbott also said there was a potential explanation as to why Webb was in Adelaide.
“We can’t say for sure, but we can speculate,” he said.
“We have evidence that he had separated from his wife, and that she had moved to South Australia, so possibly, he had come to track her down.”
The case intrigued many people and for decades.
Back in 1949, a phone number led police to a 27-year-old nursing student who asked at the time that her name not be made public.
Later, when police showed her the death mask, she almost fainted, but she denied she knew the man.
Somerton Man was thought to be 40-45 years old. He wore a smart suit and tie, but the labels were removed from his clothes. There was no ID on the body and there were no signs of violence. The dry sand around him was undisturbed. He didn’t match any reports of people missing.
Even the cause of death could not be be confirmed. But three medical witnesses gave evidence they believed the cause of death was not natural.
The pathologist who performed the autopsy found the man’s spleen had grown to three times its normal size, and it and the liver were damaged. The doctor who carried out the post-mortem examination concluded that death was caused by heart failure due to poisoning. Further tests failed to identify the presence of any foreign substance.
The pathology report noted the man’s toes had a slight wedge and his calf muscles were high and pronounced – could the man have been a ballet dancer or a long-distance runner? His teeth were unusual. – his lateral incisors were missing, his sharp canines had grown next to his from teeth. But no dental records of any known person were a match.
His last meal was a pastie.
The book from which the scrap had been torn would be a pivotal clue. Police searched nationwide for it. Some time later, a man (who wished to remain anonymous) handed over to police the book in question he said he found in the back seat of his car around the time the body was found. The book was missing the words “tamám shud,” and had several lines of seemingly random capital letters written on the last page. This, said some, could have been code, giving weight to rumours that the man was a spy. There was also the name “Jestyn” and a phone number in the book.
The body was embalmed and a death mask made of the face.
A receptionist at the hotel near where the body was found came forward. She told police a strange man was staying in the hotel at the time of Somerton Man’s discovery. He had carried a black case with a long needle inside, she said. Several years later someone started leaving flowers on Somerton Man’s grave. Police questioned a woman, but she said she did not know anything about Somerton Man.
Many codebreakers have examined the letters found scribbled in the book. Some believe the final string of letters, ITTMTSAMSTGAB stands for “It’s Time To Move To South Australia Moseley Street.” The phone number written in the book may link to this. It was written beside the name Jestyn who turns out to possibly be a former army nurse who lived on Moseley Street, Glenelg.
The woman when questioned said she once had a copy of the Tamam Shud book which she gave to a Lt. Alfred Boxall she had met in the army. Her real name was not revealed at the time.
That led to theories that Boxall was the dead man, until he turned up in 1949 with his copy of the book intact.
A Sixty Minutes television program in 2013 claimed Jestyn was Jessica Thomson (nee Harkness).
The woman’s daughter, Kate, told Sixty Minutes her mother had known Somerton Man and that they both may have been spies, although she had no evidence of that. She said her mother spoke Russian.
Jessica Thomson’s son, Robin (who died in 2009), had a daughter, Rachel, who suggested that Somerton Man was in fact Robin’s biological father, a theory put forward by University of Adelaide Professor Derek Abbott who tried to solve the long-dormant case by examining photos of the dead man. He found that the shape of Somerton Man’s upper ear was peculiar to less than 2% of Caucasians, and he had hypodontia, a condition in which one or more teeth fail to develop, also confined to less than 2% of the population. Professor Abbott examined photos of Jestyn’s son, who had the same-shaped ears, and apparently also had hypodontia. The chance of two unrelated people having both conditions is put at more than one in ten million.
A number of web sites continued to report on the case and Professor Abbot kept a twitter account dedicated to the Tamam Shud mystery.
The mystery remained but was never far from the limelight.
On October 16, 2019. The ABC television program Australian Story examined the so-called “Somerton Man” case.
The South Australian Attorney-General gave “conditional approval” for exhumation of remains that can be tested for DNA in the hope of tracing relatives, possibly even children. There’s a proviso though: taxpayers won’t be footing the bill for the exercise, put at $A20,000.
So it was that the remains were exhumed at the West Terrace Cemetery in May 2021.
South Australian police officer Superintendent Des Bray said the exhumation was much more than trying to close a long-standing case.
“It’s important for everybody to remember the Somerton man is not just a curiosity or a mystery to be solved. It’s somebody’s father, son, perhaps grandfather, uncle or brother. That’s why we are doing this to try to identify him,” supt. Bray said.
Professor Abbott believes Rachel Egan, the woman he married, shared the same DNA as Somerton Man, and could be his granddaughter.
“Whether he’s related to one of us or not, we’ve kind of adopted him into our family anyway, because it’s him that has brought us together, Professor Abbott said in an interview.
Establishing the possible link goes back to the nurse who came to light in earlier investigations.
Professor Abbott tracked down information about the nurse, identifying her as Jessica Ellen “Jo” Thomson. By that time however, she had taken any secrets to her grave. She died in 2007.
Jo married car dealer George Thomson but they later divorced. At the time Somerton Man died, 400 metres from Jo’s house, she had a second child, a 16-months-old son.
She told friends that George wasn’t the father of her son.
Professor Abbott’s investigations led him to believe Jo and Somerton Man knew each other, and possibly had a son named Robin. Robin died in 2009.
Professor Abbott discovered that Rachel Egan was Robin’s granddaughter. Rachel was able to shed some light on her parents, discovering that they had met at the Australian Ballet School where both were dancers. Rachel had been adopted out as her parents did not have the means to care for her.
There the matter rests, even with many unanswered questions remaining. Somerton man is Carl “Charles” Webb. Or is he?
The Jethro Tull story is more of one historical significance than a mystery.
Jethro Tull was born in 1674 into a family of Berkshire gentry. He studied at Oxford University and Gray’s Inn aiming at a legal and political career, but ill health caused him to take new directions. After his marriage in 1699, he began farming with his father, a move that saw him go on to become an agricultural pioneer.
Mechanised farming equipment can be traced back to the early 1700s with Tull’s invention of the seed drill, a machine that when pulled along either by human or beast would drop seeds into furrows.
Before his invention seeds were sown by hand, scattered them all over the ground where they often failed to germinate.
To build the first prototype seed drill in 1701, Tull called on his musical knowledge. It is said he built his device from foot pedals pilfered from the organ of a local church. The finished drill, the first agricultural machine with moving parts, sowed seeds in uniform rows and covered up them as well.
The seeds were placed in a hopper and fell into a grooved rotating cylinder that fed them in a controlled manner down a funnel. The front of the machine had a plough which created a channel into which the seeds dropped, to be covered by a harrow attached to the rear.
In 1714, he introduced the idea of pulverising the earth between the rows, believing that this released nutrients. He built a hoe and rake for lifting weeds to the surface where they could dry. He also invented a hoe that could be drawn by a horse.
In 1731, Tull wrote a book called “Horse-houghing (hoeing) Husbandry” which he revised in 1733. Although his Seed Drill was improved in 1782 by adding gears to the distribution mechanism, the rotary mechanism of the drill provided the foundation for all future sowing technology.
By the 1940s the seed drill was sufficiently developed to plant a dozen rows at a time, pulled by a horse.
Jethro Tull died on 21 February 1741.