Born in Britain on December 20, 1948, Alan soon found that his interests lay in music. He studied piano and flute as a child and was always intrigued by gadgetry. He picked up the guitar in his early teens and played as a soloist as well as with various bands at school.
One of his first jobs was at an EMI tape duplication facility in West London. At this time he was fortunate enough to experience the master tape of The Beatles Sgt. Pepper album and that boosted his determination to become a recording engineer. Says Alan, “I couldn’t wait to find out the secrets behind the album. It left me totally in awe of the talent of The Beatles themselves of course, but also the work behind the scenes in the studio”. His timing was perfect. He landed a post at the then not-so-celebrated Abbey Road Studios and garnered significant experience on The Beatles’ Let It Be album, and actively participated in the famous Apple rooftop session. The Abbey Road album (released before “Let It Be”, but recorded later) helped Alan to make his mark with the Fab Four, although he was only an assistant engineer at that time.
This led to Alan going on to work as a full-blown engineer with Paul McCartney on McCartney, Wings, Wild Life and Red Rose Speedway, including the singles Hi Hi Hi and C Moon. Alan adds “I couldn’t have asked for a better grounding in recording – after all not many engineers got to work the greatest rock act of all time”. He also helped out on George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass album both as an assistant and as a mix engineer.
After the experience of The Beatles Alan worked on a number of hits with The Hollies including He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother and The Air That I Breathe. However, his reputation was totally solidified with his engineering work on Pink Floyd’s legendary Dark Side Of The Moon, which earned him the first of many Grammy nominations.
Alan soon ventured into production with the British band Pilot and scored immediate success with the hit single Magic. (You know – “Oh Ho Ho It’s Magic!!”). Other hits followed not only with Pilot, but also with Cockney Rebel achieving two consecutive British Number Ones. The hits continued with Highfly and Music by John Miles. Alan made three albums with Al Stewart, spawning the hit singles Year Of The Cat and Time Passages.
Along with songwriter/manager Eric Woolfson, Alan began creating thematic records with Eric under the banner of The Alan Parsons Project. Although he occasionally played keyboards, guitar and sang background parts on the records, the Project was designed primarily as a forum for a revolving collection of vocalists and session players – among them Arthur Brown, ex-Zombie Colin Blunstone, Cockney Rebel’s Steve Harley, the Hollies’ Allan Clarke and guitarist Ian Bairnson — to interpret and perform the Woolfson/ Parsons conceptually-linked, lushly arranged and orchestrated music.
After 10 APP albums and a brief venture into musical theatre resulting in the album Freudiana (1990) Eric and Alan then went separate ways. Parsons 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 collaborators, guitarist Ian Bairnson, drummer Stuart Elliott and orchestral arranger Andrew Powell, Alan brought out his first solo album – Try Anything Once in 1994.
The partnership continued for On Air in 1996 and The Time Machine in 1999. During this time Alan and his band toured to sell-out audiences throughout the globe. Alan has also played various live shows with Ringo Starr, Yes, Kansas, Alice Cooper, John Entwistle and Ann Wilson.
More recently, Alan’s music has taken a new contemporary direction into the world of Electronica. His latest album, A Valid Path, features a number of notables in the genre including The Crystal Method, Shpongle and Uberzone. The album also features a guest appearance by Pink Floyd guitarist, David Gilmour. Alan’s eldest son, Jeremy also plays an active part in the computer programming of the music. Alan says, “The industry is changing and I feel the need to capture a different kind of audience while still keeping my identity. Electronic music is the fastest growing music category right now and I’m enjoying working with new people and new technology”. The album is now available on DualDisc. The DVD side contains 5.1 surround mixes as well as video material, including interviews with David Gilmour and The Crystal Method as well as previously unreleased music videos and concert footage.
Alan has written extensively for the Pro-Audio press and is an acknowledged expert in 5.1 Surround Sound recording. He has often lectured at Recording conferences and Schools of Recording and was the keynote speaker at The Audio Engineering Society convention in 1998.
In 2010, Alan felt the need to share his extensive knowledge and expertise with the rest of the music industry. With the help of fellow Brit Julian Colbeck, Alan wrote and produced a comprehensive instructional video series about recording called The Art & Science Of Sound Recording (ASSR). It features contributions from a myriad of celebrity artists, engineers and producers and is narrated by Billy Bob Thornton. It is available as a 3-DVD set and as downloads. See 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 has been supporting ASSR with a series of lectures and Masterclass Training Sessions (MCTS) all over the world.
Since the beginning of 2012, as well as performing live shows, Alan has been busy in the studio doing vocals for German Electronica outfit, Lichtmond, on a soon-to-be released song and video called Precious Life. Another vocal performance with YES stars Billy Sherwood and Chris Squire on a song called The Technical Divide has been released on Cleopatra Records under the title “The Prog Collective”. Another collaboration has been with Mexican superstar ALEKS SYNTEK. Alan and Aleks have written a song called The Direction Of Time and have shared the lead vocal duties which are in both English and Spanish – release is expected in the fall.
Alan has come full circle and is back in his role as producer and engineer both at his own Santa Barbara studio and studios around the world. Alan is currently producing an album with JAKE SHIMABUKORO, the virtuoso ukulele player, whose YouTube video of While My Guitar Gently Weeps has received over ten million hits! The album will contain a number orchestral arrangements by Winger frontman, Kip Winger and is due for a September release.
Alan has received a large number of awards including eleven Grammy nominations, The Les Paul Award in 1995 and more recently, The Diva Hall Of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award in Munich, Germany in June 2012. He is in demand as public speaker and was keynote speaker at the 1998 Audio Engineering Society Convention in San Francisco and more recently was the opening speaker at the TEDx Conejo conference in California in April 2012. Alan lives on an organic avocado ranch in Santa Barbara, California with his wife Lisa and her two daughters, Tabitha and Brittni, three dogs, several cats, chickens, and an 18-hand Clydesdale called Dante.
Find out more at alanparsonsmusic.com/