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Parsons returns to Ruth Eckerd Hall
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Photo courtesy of RUTH ECKERD HALL
Alan Parsons plays Ruth Eckerd Hall Feb. 15 as part of the venue’s Rock Symphony Concert series.
CLEARWATER – Alan Parsons Live Project returns to the Tampa Bay area Saturday, Feb. 15, 7:30 p.m., at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater.

Part of the Rock Symphony Concert series, tickets start at $45. For tickets, call 791-7400 or visit www.r­uthec­kerdh­all.c­om.

Special guest Jon Anderson, the voice of the iconic prog-rock band Yes, will open the show performing Yes classics such as “Roundabout,” “I’ve Seen All Good People,” “Long Distance Runaround” and more.

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.

Yes vocalist Anderson to open

Before Parsons performs, Jon Anderson will take the stage, performing a selection of Yes classics such as “Roundabout,” “I’ve Seen All Good People,” “Long Distance Runaround” and more.

Anderson is one of the most recognizable voices in progressive rock. The lead vocalist and creative force behind Yes, Anderson helped forge a series of epics produced by Yes such as “Close to the Edge,” “Awaken” and “The Gates of Delirium.” He co-authored the group's biggest hits, including “I've Seen All Good People,” “Roundabout” and “Owner Of A Lonely Heart.”

Born in Lancashire, England, in 1944, Anderson’s early career in music included a stint with The Warriors from 1962 through 1967. After leaving the band, he released two solo singles in 1968 under the pseudonym Hans Christian Anderson, and then briefly sang for the band The Gun.

In March 1968, Anderson met bassist Chris Squire and joined him in a group called Mabel Greer's Toyshop, which included guitarist Peter Banks. A year later, drummer Bill Bruford and keyboardist Tony Kaye would join them in the first incarnation of Yes.
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