Podcast 100: Alan Parsons

Celebrating Home Theater Geeks' 100th episode, legendary producer, engineer, and musician Alan Parsons talks about his early days as an assistant engineer at Abbey Road Studios when the Beatles were recording their last two albums, recording and mixing Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and Michael Oldfield's Tubular Bells in quadraphonic, forming the Alan Parsons Project with collaborator Eric Woolfson, his educational DVD set called The Art and Science of Sound Recording, answers to chat-room questions, and much more.

Run Time: 1:07:22

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Alan Parsons dabbled with live performance in his late teens as a folk/blues acoustic player and as a lead guitarist with a blues band in the late 1960s. But as soon as he landed a job at the famous Abbey Road Studios in London at the age of 19, it became clear that the world of sound recording was to dominate his care.

He was fortunate enough to work as assistant engineer on the last two albums by The Beatles, and after he qualified as a full-fledged recording engineer, he went on to work with Paul McCartney and The Hollies among many others. But it was his contribution as engineer on Pink Floyd's classic Dark Side Of The Moon that really got him world attention. That soon led to striking successes as a producer—notably with Pilot's Magic, John Miles' Highfly and Music and Steve Harley's (Come Up And See Me) Make Me Smile. He also produced the hugely successful Year Of The Cat album with Al Stewart and two albums with American progressive rock band Ambrosia.

In 1975, he met Eric Woolfson, who not only became his manager, but joined forces with Alan as a songwriting and performing partner for what became known as The Alan Parsons Project. The APP's debut album, Tales Of Mystery And Imagination based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe paved the way for signing to Clive Davis' newly launched Arista label and a string of hit albums, namely I Robot (1977), Pyramid (1978), The Turn of a Friendly Card (1980), Eye in the Sky (1982), Ammonia Avenue (1984), Vulture Culture (1985), Stereotomy (1986) and Gaudi (1987).

A brief venture into musical theater resulted in Freudiana in 1990. The show ran for over a year in the historic Theater An Der Wien in Vienna. Eric and Alan then went separate ways. Eric devoted his career to the musical theater while Alan felt the need to bring his music to the live concert stage and to continue to record conceptual symphonic rock music.

With his long-standing previous APP collaborators, guitarist Ian Bairnson, drummer Stuart Elliott, and orchestral arranger Andrew Powell, Alan dropped the "Project" identity for Alan Parsons—Try Anything Once in 1994. The partnership continued for On Air in 1996 and The Time Machine in 1999. During this time, the first incarnation of Alan Parsons Live Project toured to sell-out audiences throughout the globe. Following Alan's relocation to California, a new Live Project band was formed in 2003.

The album A Valid Path, Alan's foray into electronica, was released in 2004 and featured Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, The Crystal Method, Shpongle, Uberzone, PJ Olsson, and Alan's son, Jeremy. 2008 saw the reissue of all the Alan Parsons Project albums in expanded form, containing never-before-heard bonus material, and a 2-CD compilation called The Essential Collection. One of the most familiar Project tracks is "Sirius," perhaps best known as the Chicago Bulls' theme and more recently as walk-on music for The New Orleans Saints at their triumphant Super Bowl game in 2010.

Alan's latest venture is an instructional series about recording called The Art And Science Of Sound Recording; learn more about it at www.artandscienceofsound.com. "All Our Yesterdays," a song written especially for the series, features some of LA's finest musicians and a rare performance by Alan on lead vocals. Alan lives in Santa Barbara, California, with his wife Lisa and her two daughters, Tabitha and Brittni, four dogs, a lop-eared rabbit, and an 18-hand Clydesdale called Dante.

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