Your questions answered!
Whether you’re a dedicated APP fan or new to the music, many of your questions can be answered here. Simply click on a question and discover the answer.
Why is it called the Alan Parsons Project?
In 1974, Alan Parsons was nominated for a Grammy award to recognise his engineering work on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Soon after that, he and Eric Woolfson got together with Eric acting as Alan’s manager for his engineering and production work.
After a string of hits, Eric had the idea of making an album on the lines of developments in the film business, where directors such as Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick were the focal point of the film’s promotion, rather than individual film stars. If the film business was becoming a director’s medium, Eric felt the music business might well become a producer’s medium. As a songwriter, he had been developing an album inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe and he now saw a way to combine Alan’s and his respective talents: Alan as the engineer and producer, Eric as the songwriter and musician.
Eric put a proposal to 20th Century Records (now Universal) along these lines. He gave it a working title of ‘The Alan Parsons Project’ and the record company went for the idea. They decided that they liked the proposal and the working title and so it stuck – The Alan Parsons Project was born.
Bearing in mind Alan’s known association in the business with Pink Floyd and The Beatles plus the fact that Eric was also the manager of The Project, Eric felt it was better to use Alan’s name as the figurehead.
Did the APP perform live?
No, the APP was not a typical band that puts out an album and then tours before putting out another album. The APP never toured, partly because it was a not a band with a set group of members. It used the talents of many top session musicians and artists who were invited on an album by album basis as guest performers. The APP in itself, was two people – Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson and the focus on Alan’s role as engineer/ producer did not lend itself to conventional live performance.
Alan Parsons does now perform with his own band, and although none of the present band members (apart from Alan of course) were involved in the original APP recordings, they do perform much of the material from the Project albums. See www.alanparsonsmusic.com for more details.
After the APP, Eric Woolfson turned his main focus to musical theatre and has a number of musicals performed regularly worldwide, two of which (GAUDI and GAMBLER) include songs from APP albums. See www.ericwoolfsonmusic.com for more details.
What were Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson’s key roles in the project?
Eric Woolfson was the main songwriter and lyricist for the APP writing 95% of the music and 100% of the lyrics. He also sang lead vocal on many of the APP’s greatest hits including ‘Eye in the Sky’, ‘Time’ and ‘Don’t Answer Me’. He played keyboards on practically every APP track recorded. He was also the manager of the APP and handled all the business side. It was his decision to call it ‘The Alan Parsons Project’ – a choice he often described as both the best and worst in his career. The best because he got to enjoy the success of his work without any of the fame. The worst in that generally no one outside the music industry had a clue who he was!
Alan Parsons was the engineer and producer for the APP. He did contribute to the writing of many of the APP instrumentals and of course the whole ‘sound’ of the Project is down to his incredible technical skills. He occasionally performed keyboards and backing vocals on some of the APP tracks, but generally sat behind the mixing desk rather than performing on the recordings.
Who regularly contributed to the APP albums?
IAN BAIRNSON (Electric and Acoustic guitarist) | website
Ian is the most regular contributor to the APP having featured on every album, primarily as electric and acoustic guitarist. Ian also played pedal steel guitar, occasional keyboards and programming, as well as singing backing vocals.
Ian was lead guitarist and one of the writers of the group PILOT which Alan Parsons produced. He has recorded with Jon Anderson , Kate Bush , George Martin and Mick Fleetwood . He wrote the 1983 hit ‘Can’t Stand the Heat’ for Bucks Fizz. He has made TV appearances with Stanley Clarke and Steve Gadd .
Ian Bairnson contributed to the following APP albums: Tales of Mystery and Imagination, I Robot, Pyramid, Eve, The Turn of a Friendly Card, Eye in the Sky, Ammonia Avenue, Vulture Culture, Stereotomy, and Gaudi.
COLIN BLUNSTONE (Vocalist) | website
Sang lead vocal on many APP tracks, notably ‘Dancing on a High Wire’ and Somebody Out There’, ‘The Eagle Will Rise’ and most notably, ‘Old & Wise’.
Colin contributed to the following APP albums: Pyramid, Eye in the Sky, Ammonia Avenue, and Vulture Culture.
Colin was the lead vocalist for ‘The Zombies’.
LAURENCE COTTLE (Bass Guitar) | website
You will find a full biog about Laurence Cottle featured on his website above.
Laurence Cottle contributed to the following APP albums: Gaudi (and also the album Freudiana).
RICHARD COTTLE (Keyboard & Saxophonist)
Richard Cottle contributed to the following APP albums: Vulture Culture, Stereotomy, and Gaudi.
STUART ELLIOT (Drums & Percussion) | website
Stuart Elliot was the drummer with Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel which Alan produced and had several hits including the number 1 ‘Come Up and See Me’, ‘Make Me Smile’.
Stuart Elliot contributed to the following APP albums: Pyramid, Eve, The Turn of a Friendly Card, Eye in the Sky, Ammonia Avenue, Vulture Culture, Stereotomy, Gaudi.
JACK HARRIS (Vocalist)
Sang lead vocals on ‘Day after Day’ and ‘Pyramania’. He also sang backing vocals.
Jack Harris contributed to the following APP albums: Tales of Mystery and Imagination, Pyramid, I Robot
JOHN MILES (Vocalist) | website
For a full biog on John Miles – please see website above. He had many hits worldwide in his own right, notably ‘Music’ from the album REBEL, produced by Alan Parsons. He sang lead vocal on many APP tracks including ‘The Cask of Amontillado, ‘Shadow of a Lonely Man’, ‘Money Talks’, ‘Stereotomy’, ‘The Real World’ and ‘La Sagrada Familia’.
John Miles contributed to the following APP albums: Tales of Mystery & Imagination, Pyramid, Stereotomy, Gaudi (and also the album Freudiana)
DAVID PATON (Bass guitar & Vocals) | website
Wrote and sang ‘Magic’ by PILOT in 1975. He played bass guitar on many Project tracks and also sang lead vocal on ‘Children of the Moon’, ‘Let’s Talk About Me’, “I’d Rather Be A Man’ and ‘What Goes Up’. He also sang backing vocals on many APP albums.
David Paton contributed to the following APP albums: Tales of Mystery and Imagination, I Robot, Pyramid, Eve, The Turn of a Friendly Card, Eye in the Sky, Ammonia Avenue, Vulture Culture and Stereotomy.
ANDREW POWELL (Orchestral & Choral Arranger & Conductor)
Andrew Powell worked on every APP album (with the exception of Vulture Culture where there were no orchestras) as the orchestral and choral arranger and conductor. In 1983, he released an album of his orchestral interpretations of some APP songs which was entitled APatPOPtBoTAPP (Andrew Powell and the Philharmonia Orchestra Play The Best of The Alan Parsons Project). He also worked on Freudiana (1990) and then three of Alan Parsons’ solo albums.
He produced the first two albums by Kate Bush. He has also worked with artists ranging from Stockhausen, Boulez and Ligeti to Donovan, Leo Sayer, Chris de Burgh and Kansas. He wrote the score for the film ‘Ladyhawke’ starring Matthew Broderick, the album of which Alan Parsons engineered and several APP regulars played. His initials are also AP, like Parsons and Poe!
Andrew Powell contributed to the following APP albums: Tales of Mystery and Imagination, I Robot, Pyramid, Eve, The Turn of a Friendly Card, Eye in the Sky, Ammonia Avenue, Stereotomy, Gaudi
CHRIS RAINBOW (Vocalist)
Chris sang lead vocal on many APP tracks including ‘The Turn of A Friendly Card’, ‘Snake Eyes’, ‘Since the Last Goodbye’, ‘Gemini’, ‘Winding Me Up’, ‘Days are Numbers’ and ‘Beaujolais’. Chris also sang backing vocals in his inimitable one-man beach boys style, which was a major feature of the APP sound.
Chris Rainbow contributed to the following APP albums: Eve, The Turn of a Friendly Card, Eye in the Sky, Ammonia Avenue, Vulture Culture, Stereotomy, Gaudi (and also the album Freudiana)
STUART TOSH (Drummer)
He was the drummer for PILOT (produced by Alan).
Stuart Tosh played on Tales of Mystery and Imagination and I Robot.
LENNY ZAKATEK (Vocalist)
He sang lead vocal on many up-beat APP tracks including the hit, ‘Games People Play’ as well as ‘I Wouldn’t Want to be Like You’, ‘You’re Gonna Get Your Fingers Burned’, ‘Damned If I Do’, ‘Vulture Culture’, ‘Let Me Go Home’, ‘You Don’t Believe’, ‘Too Late’, ‘I Don’t Wanna Go Home’
Lenny was a vocalist for the band GONZALEZ. Alan produced a solo album with Lenny on the A&M label.
Lenny Zakatek contributed to the following APP albums: I Robot, Pyramid, Eve, The Turn of a Friendly Card, Eye in the Sky, Ammonia Avenue, Vulture Culture, and Gaudi.
What APP albums have been released?
I Robot (1977)
Turn of a Friendly Card (1980)
Eye in the Sky (1982)
Ammonia Avenue (1984)
Vulture Culture (1985)
There have been countless compilations released over the years, the first being ‘The Best Of APP’ released in 1983.
What is Freudiana?
This album was written and recorded for EMI after the APP Gaudi album, which was the last contractually required APP album with Arista Records (now part of Sony/ BMG).
Eric was inspired by the life and work of Sigmund Freud, partly due to the fact that his wife was studying psychology at the time. He was particularly inspired by Freud’s English residence in Hampstead, London.
Although Eric and Alan began to work together on this album in the same way that they had done with the 10 previous APP albums, during the making of the album, it was decided not to release it as an Alan Parsons Project album. It was marketed by the record company with a sticker on the front which reads “Conceived and Written by Eric Woolfson, Creator of The Alan Parsons Project. Produced and Engineered by Alan Parsons”. It became the basis for the marketing of a musical ‘Freudiana’ which was premiered and staged in Vienna, Austria in 1990 and marked a new direction for Eric into musical theatre.
The Freudiana album was released by EMI in 1990 but is unfortunately no longer available.