Back for the first time since 2006 with a Rock Symphony and Laser Light Spectacular, Parsons is lauded as the sound engineer for Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side Of The Moon.” His genius and skill brought him to the attention of the music world and he has gone on to enjoy success as a producer, songwriter and performer.
Working as assistant engineer at Abbey Road Studios, Parsons first emerged in the industry working on the Beatles’ LP “Abbey Road.” He went on to engineer projects for Paul McCartney, The Hollies and Pink Floyd.
Then, in 1975, Parsons partnered with singer Eric Woolfson to create The Alan Parsons Project.
All in the family
According to the artist’s website, Parsons was born into a family with longstanding connections to the entertainment industry.
His family tree includes Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree, his great grandfather. Tree was a well-known English actor and theater manager. Tree founded the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1904. His wife, actress Helen Maud Holt, often joined him on the stage and also assisted him with theater management.
Tree’s daughter, Viola, followed in her father’s footsteps becoming an actress, singer, playwright and author. She appeared often with her father’s company at His Majesty's Theatre. Later she appeared in opera, variety, straight theater and film.
She married Alan Leonard Romaine Parsons with whom she had several children, including Alan Parson’s father, Denys Parsons, who worked in the field of scientific research and invention before becoming a film-maker and, later, the press officer for the British Library. Denys was an accomplished pianist and flautist as well as the author of many books.
Parsons’ mother also was an actress, as well as a professional folk singer and harpist. Other relatives in the entertainment business include the late Oliver Reed, film actor, and David Tree, film and stage actor.
Abbey Road Studios
Alan Parsons landed a job at Abbey Road Studios when he was 19. His adventure in the world of sound recording began there, working as an assistant engineer on the last two albums by The Beatles.
Qualifying as a fully-fledged recording engineer, Parsons went on to work with Paul McCartney and The Hollies among many others. Still, it was his contribution as engineer on Pink Floyd's classic “Dark Side OF The Moon” that really earned him industry attention. He soon found himself producing singles such as Pilot’s “Magic,” John Miles’ “Highfly” and “Music,” and Steve Harley’s “Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me).” Parsons also produced the hugely successful “Year Of The Cat” album with Al Stewart and two albums with American progressive rock band Ambrosia.
Alan Parsons Project
In 1975, Parsons met Eric Woolfson.
Woolfson became his manager and the two joined forces to establish The Alan Parsons Project. The APP's debut album, “Tales Of Mystery And Imagination,” offered musical interpretations of works by Edgar Allan Poe. The album paved the way for a signing to Clive Davis' newly launched Arista label and, in turn, a string of hit albums including “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).
Since the breakup of the band, Parsons has released a string of solo albums including “Try Anything Once,” 1993; “On Air,” 1986; “The Time Machine,” 1999; and “A Valid Path,” 2004.
Though APP recorded 10 albums between 1975 and 1987, Parsons and his entourage never played any concerts. Only after the release of his first solo album did he feel compelled to start touring.
“The new creative team convinced me I belonged on the stage,” Parsons said in a 2006 interview with Tampa Bay Newspapers.
The decision was – at least in part – driven by business. Parsons said what prompted him to start playing concerts was “the need to give the album we had at the time – ‘Try Anything Once’ – the best chance at commercial success.”
Fans savored the opportunity to hear both new material and works from Parsons’ vast APP catalogue. The avid enthusiasm of his audiences still surprises him.
“It never ceases to amaze me, people keep coming back,” Parsons said.
He said he enjoys visiting and performing at new places. Though touring seems like a second career for a man who spent so much of his time in the recording studio, Parsons clearly enjoys the interaction with the fans.
“It’s something you don’t get in the studio,” he said.
Next in the series
The Rock Symphony Concert series will continue with a performance by Supertramp’s Roger Hodgson on Friday, March 22, 8 p.m.
The legend is back on a worldwide tour that is selling out everywhere and his signature voice is stronger than ever.
Gifted composer, lyricist and legendary voice of Supertramp, which he co-founded, Roger Hodgson is known for setting beautiful, introspective lyrics to upbeat melodies. “Breakfast in America,” “Give a Little Bit” and “Dreamer” are among his most recognizable hit songs.
Hodgson’s discography with Supertramp includes the studio albums “Supertramp,” 1970; “Indelibly Stamped,” 1971; “Crime of the Century,” 1974; “Crisis? What Crisis?”, 1975; “Even in the Quietist Moments …”, 1977; “Breakfast in America,” 1979; and “Famous Last Words,” 1982. After leaving Supertramp,” Hodgson released his first solo album, “In the Eye of the Storm,” in 1984. The album generated the hit “Had a Dream (Sleeping with the Enemy).” Hodgson’s other solo efforts include the albums “”Hai Hai,” 1987; and “Open the Door,” 2000.