Alan Parsons

Alan Parsons (born 20 December 1948[1]) is a British audio engineer, musician, and record producer. He was involved with the production of several significant albums, including The Beatles‘ Abbey Road and Let It Be, as well as Pink Floyd‘s The Dark Side of the Moon for which Pink Floyd credit him as an important contributor. Parsons’ own group, The Alan Parsons Project, as well as his subsequent solo recordings, have also been successful commercially.

In October 1967, at age 18, Parsons went to work as an assistant engineer at Abbey Road Studios, where he earned his first credit on the LP, Abbey Road. He became a regular there, engineering such projects as Paul McCartney‘s Wild Life and Red Rose Speedway, five albums by The Hollies, and Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, for which he received his first Grammy Awardnomination. He was known for doing more than what would normally be considered the scope of a recording engineer’s duties. He considered himself to be a recording director, likening his contribution to recordings to what Stanley Kubrickcontributed to film. This is apparent in his work with Al Stewart‘s “Year of the Cat“, where Parsons added the saxophone part and transformed the original folk concept into the jazz-influenced ballad that put Al Stewart onto the charts. It is also heard in Parsons’ influence on the Hollies’ “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” and “The Air That I Breathe“, sharp departures from their popular 1960s hits “Stay“, “Just One Look“, “Stop! Stop! Stop!” or “Bus Stop“. Parsons was also known to have swapped shifts during the engineering of The Dark Side of the Moon so he could work entirely on the project.

Parsons also produced three albums by Pilot, a Scottish pop rock band consisting of Ian Bairnson on guitar, Stuart Tosh on drums, and David Paton on lead vocals, guitars, and on bass. Their hits included “January” and “Magic”.

“To One In Paradise”

“Time”

He also mixed the debut album by American band Ambrosia and produced their second album Somewhere I’ve Never Travelled. Alan was nominated for grammys for both of these albums. [2]

In 1975, he declined Pink Floyd’s invitation to come back and work on the follow-up for “Dark Side,” Wish You Were Here, and instead initiated The Alan Parsons Project with producer and songwriter (and occasional singer) Eric Woolfson, whom he had met at Abbey Road. The Project consisted of a revolving group of studio musicians and vocalists, most notably the members of Pilot and (on the first album) the members of Ambrosia. Unlike most rock groups, The Alan Parsons Project never performed live during its heyday, although it did release several music videos. Its only live performance during its original incarnation was in 1990, with Woolfson present but behind the scenes. After releasing ten albums, the last in 1987, the Project terminated in 1990 after Parsons and Woolfson split, with the Project’s intended 11th album released that year as a Woolfson solo album. Parsons continued to release work in his own name and in collaboration with other musicians. Parsons and his band now regularly tour many parts of the world.

Although an accomplished vocalist, keyboardist, bassist, guitarist and flautist, Parsons sang infrequent and incidental parts on his albums. While his keyboard playing was very audible on the Alan Parsons Project albums, very few recordings feature his flute. During the late 1990s, Parsons’ career travelled an interesting full circle. Having started out in the music industry at the Abbey Road Studios in London as an assistant engineer in the late 1960s, he briefly returned to run the studio in its entirety. He reportedly managed to combine this role with the demands of a hectic performing and recording schedule. Parsons also continued with his selective production work for other bands.

“Eye In The Sky”

“Days Are Numbered”

Of all his collaborations, guitarist Ian Bairnson worked with Parsons the longest, including Parsons’ post-Woolfson albums, Try Anything OnceOn Air, and The Time Machine.

As well as receiving gold and platinum awards from many nations, Parsons has received ten Grammy Award nominations for engineering and production. In 2007 he received a nomination for Best Surround Sound Album for A Valid Path.

In May 2005, Parsons appeared at the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills, California, to mix front-of-house sound for Southern California-based Pink Floyd tribute band Which One’s Pink? and their performance of The Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety.[3]

Since 2003 he has toured under a revised name, The Alan Parsons Live Project (with Woolfson’s permission). The globe-trotting band features guitarist Godfrey Townsend, drummer Steve Murphy, keyboardist Manny Focarazzo, and bass guitarist John Montagna. The 2004-2005 shows offered vocalist P. J. Olsson‘s track “More Lost Without You”, while the later 2006 shows presented The Crystal Method-featured “We Play the Game” and opened with “Return to Tunguska” along with successes spanning the Project years.

Beginning in 2001 and extending for four years, Parsons conceived and led a Beatles tribute show called A Walk Down Abbey Road featuring a group of headlining performers such as Todd RundgrenAnn Wilson of HeartJohn Entwistle of The Who, and Jack Bruce of Cream. The show structure included a first set where all musicians assembled to perform each others’ hits, and a second set featuring all Beatles songs.

In 2010, Alan Parsons released his single “All Our Yesterdays” through Authentik Artists.[4] Parsons also launched a DVD educational series in 2010 titled The Art and Science of Sound Recording (“ASSR”) on music production and the complete audio recording process. The single “All Our Yesterdays” was written and recorded during the making of ASSR. The series, narrated by Billy Bob Thornton,[5] gives detailed tutorials on virtually every aspect of the sound recording process. Individual sections of the series are also being released in batches and are available to stream or download at http://www.artandscienceofsound.com.[5]

During 2010, several media reports,[6][7] one of which included a quote from a representative of Parsons,[8] alleged that the song “Need You Now” by country music group Lady Antebellum possessed the melody and arrangement of “Eye in the Sky.”

Sources: youtube, wikipedia.com, imdb.com, alanparsons.com

Albums

Date Title Label Charted Country Catalog Number
as part of The Alan Parsons Project
May 1976 Tales of Mystery and Imagination Mercury 38 US
June 1977 I Robot Arista 9 US
June 1978 Pyramid Arista 26 US
August 1979 Eve Arista 13 US
November 1980 The Turn of a Friendly Card Arista 13 US
June 1982 Eye in the Sky Arista 7 US
1983 The Best of the Alan Parsons Project Arista 53 US
February 1984 Ammonia Avenue Arista 15 US
March 1985 Vulture Culture Arista 46 US
November 1985 Stereotomy Arista 43 US
January 1987 Gaudi Arista 57 US
1988 The Best of the Alan Parsons Project, Vol. 2 Arista
1988 The Instrumental Works Arista
1990 Freudiana EMI
9 October 1989 Pop Classics Arista
1 July 1997 Apollo
15 July 1997 The Definitive Collection
15 April 1999 Sound Check 2
27 July 1999 Master Hits – The Alan Parsons Project
2 August 1999 Alan Parsons Project – Greatest Hits Live
3 August 1999 Eye in the Sky
3 August 1999 Eye in the Sky – Encore Collection
9 May 2000 Alan Parsons Project – Gold Collection BMG International
22 August 2002 Works Audiophile Legends
23 March 2004 Ultimate
1 June 2004 Extended Versions: The iEncore Collection Live
2006 Days Are Numbers (3 CD Compilation) Arista 88697016972
as Engineer
1969 Abbey Road (The Beatles) 1 UK
US
1970 Atom Heart Mother (Pink Floyd) 1
55
UK
US
1973 The Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd) 2
1
UK
US
1974 Hollies (The Hollies) 28 US
1975 Another Night (The Hollies) 132 US
1975 Ambrosia (Ambrosia)
1976 Year of the Cat (Al Stewart) 5 US
as Producer
1975 The Best Years of Our Lives (Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel)
1976 Rebel (John Miles) 171 US
1976 Year of the Cat (Al Stewart) 5 US
1976 Somewhere I’ve Never Traveled (Ambrosia)
1978 Time Passages (Al Stewart) 10 US
March 1984 Keats EMI
1985 Ladyhawke (OST by Andrew Powell) Atlantic Records
as Solo Artist
6 October 1993 Try Anything Once Arista
27 June 1995 The Very Best Live RCA
24 September 1996 On Air A&M/Digital Sound
28 September 1999 The Time Machine Miramar
24 August 2004 A Valid Path Artemis
6 April 2010 Eye 2 Eye: Live In Madrid Frontiers
as Executive Producer / Mentor
1999 Turning the Tide (Iconic Phare) Carrera Records

Billboard Top 40 hit singles (U.S.)

#37 – “(The System Of) Doctor Tarr And Professor Fether” (1976)
#36 – “I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You” (1977)
#27 – “Damned if I Do” (1979)
#16 – “Games People Play” (1980)
#15 – “Time” (1981)
#3 – “Eye in the Sky” (1982)
#15 – “Don’t Answer Me” (1984)

Canadian singles

#62 – “(The System Of) Doctor Tarr And Professor Fether” (1976)
#22 – “I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You” (1977)
#16 – “Damned if I Do” (1980)
#9 – “Games People Play” (1981)
#30 – “Time” (1981)
#1 – “Eye in the Sky” (1982)
#43 – “You Don’t Believe” (1983)
#20 – “Don’t Answer Me” (1984)
#89 – “Let’s Talk About Me” (1985)
Awards and nominations

         Nominations

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Betty Carter

Betty Carter (born Lillie Mae Jones, May 16, 1929[1] – September 26, 1998) was an American jazz singer renowned for herimprovisational technique and idiosyncratic vocal style. Her devotion to the jazz idiom was such that her fellow vocalistCarmen McRae once claimed that “there’s really only one jazz singer – only one: Betty Carter.”[2]

Carter was born in Flint, Michigan and grew up in Detroit, where her father led a church choir. She studied piano at the Detroit Conservatory. She won a talent contest and became a regular on the local club circuit, singing and playing piano. When she was 16, she sang with Charlie Parker, and she later performed with Dizzy GillespieRay Charles and Miles Davis.

“It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing.”

“I Could Write A Book”

Carter honed her scat singing ability while on tour with Lionel Hampton in the late 1940s. Hampton’s wife Gladys gave her the nickname “Betty Bebop“, a nickname she reportedly detested. In the 1950s Carter made recordings with King Pleasureand the Ray Bryant Trio. Her first solo LP, Out There, was released on the Peacock label in 1958.

Carter’s career was eclipsed somewhat through the 1960s and 1970s, though a series of duets with Ray Charles in 1961, including the R&B-chart-topping “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” brought her a measure of popular recognition. In 1963 she toured in Japan with Sonny Rollins. She recorded for various labels during this period, including ABC-ParamountAtco and United Artists, but was rarely satisfied with the resulting product.

In 1970, a record company A&R man tried to run off with a set of her master recordings; the incident led her to establish her own record label, Bet-Car. Some of her most famous recordings were originally issued on Bet-Car, including the double album The Audience with Betty Carter (1980). In 1980 she was the subject of a documentary film by Michelle Parkerson, But Then, She’s Betty Carter.

In the last decade of her life, Carter finally began to receive wider acclaim and recognition. In 1987 she signed with Verve Records, who reissued most of her Bet-Car albums onCD for the first time and made them available to wider audiences. In 1988 she won a Grammy for her album Look What I Got! and sang in a guest appearance on The Cosby Show(episode “How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?”). In 1994 she performed at the White House and was a headliner at Verve’s 50th anniversary celebration in Carnegie Hall. In 1997 she was awarded a National Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton. Carter remained active in jazz until her death from pancreatic cancer in 1998, aged 69.

“Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most”

“How High The Moon”

“Every Time We Say Goodbye”

Like Art Blakey and Charles Mingus, Betty Carter recruited members of the younger generation of performers to bring her creations to life. She insisted that she “learned a lot from these young players, because they’re raw and they come up with things that I would never think about doing.” Her collaborators became a veritable musical school – what the New York Times called “jazz’s best university: Betty Carter U.”

In 1993 Carter helped launch the Jazz Ahead program for young musicians at the Kennedy Center. She also devoted much of her time and energy in her last few decades touring colleges and grade-schools across the country.

  • Carter is mentioned along with other jazz luminaries in Gang Starr‘s jazz rap “Jazz Thing.”
  • She is name checked in Chapter 22 of Saul Williams‘ “The Dead Emcee Scrolls”.

Discography

Columbia
Peacock
ABC
Atco
United Artists/Capitol
Roulette
Bet-Car/Verve
Compilations
  • 1990 Compact Jazz – Polygram – Bet-Car and Verve recordings from 1976 to 1987
  • 1992 I Can’t Help It – Impulse!/GRP – the Out There and Modern Sound albums on one compact disc
  • 1999 Priceless Jazz – Verve Records – ABC-Paramount and Peacock Recordings from 1958 and 1960
  • 2003 Betty Carter’s Finest Hour – Verve Records – Recordings from 1958 to 1992[3]
On multi-artist compilations

Sources: Wikipedia, youtube, imdb.com, nmdb.com