Alan Parsons

Dec 20, 1948


From Wikipedia:

Alan Parsons (born 20 December 1948) is an English audio engineer, songwriter, musician, and record producer, the son of Denys Parsons. He was involved with the production of several significant albums, including the Beatles’ Abbey Road and Let It Be, and the eponymous debut album by Ambrosia, as well as Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon. Parsons’ own group, The Alan Parsons Project, as well as his subsequent solo recordings, have also been commercially successful. He has been nominated for 13 Grammy Awards, with his first win occurring in 2019 for Best Immersive Audio Album, Eye in the Sky (35th Anniversary Edition).

[…] In October 1967, at the age of 18, Parsons went to work as an assistant engineer at Abbey Road Studios, where he earned his first credit on the LP Abbey Road. He became a regular there, engineering such projects as Wings’ Wild Life and Red Rose Speedway, five albums by the Hollies, and Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, for which he received his first Grammy Award nomination. […]

I think the reason for the rooftop session was to generate a little excitement. They were sick of just playing the same tunes over and over again. They just wanted to get a solid performance recorded, and I think that, until they did go on the roof, they hadn’t really achieved that. Or at least they didn’t think that they had. They announced it just the night before. It was just, “Let’s go up on the roof tomorrow morning.” So we worked late into the night to get it happening. Part of my job was to run multiple cables from the basement up to the roof.

Alan Parsons – From “And In The End” by Ken McNab

Glyn sent me out to buy some pantyhose to stick over the mics to minimise the wind noise. I walked into this department store and said, “I need three pair of pantyhose. It doesn’t matter what size.” They thought I was either a bank robber or a cross-dresser.

Alan Parsons – Interview with Guitar Player magazine

That was one of the greatest and most exciting days of my life. To see The Beatles playing together and getting instant feedback from the people around them, five cameras on the roof, in the road, it was just unbelievable. The only regret I have is that I intentionally set up behind all the cameras on the roof, so there is not one picture of me up there!

Alan Parsons – From “And In The End” by Ken McNab

Let’s talk about your work McCartney

Alain Parsons. The first thing I did with McCartney was a bit of mixing on the WILD LIFE album. I was fairly new to engineering at that time and did a mix on a song called I AM YOUR SINGER while no one was there, partly for my own amusement and parly because they wanted some ref copies anyway. They ended up using mine which made me very pleased. I also did some singing on TOMORROW. Remember in the middle eight where it goes ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba (chuckle) Then soon after that was some RED ROSE SPEEDWAY with other engineers.

How does McCartney work in the studio?

There is no special approach, just go in and see what happens. He kind of uses the studio to rehearse and he is not at all good at describing the effect he wants to get.

For example he doesn’t say “Give me +4 at 10k”

Right. He’ll say “make it sound better” (laughter) So I look for the “better” knob. (laughter all around) Chris Blair (EMI cutting engineer) has literally got that in one of the cutting rooms at Abbey Road – knobs labeled “funky”, “heavy”.

(laughter) “Disco”

(laughter) “Laid Back”

Any comments on HI HI HI or C-MOON?

Oh, HI HI HI took forever. We spent weeks and weeks and weeks, must have mixed it about 8 times.

How did you feel about the final mix?

I wasn’t too happy with it. I tell you, what upset me most about HI HI HI was I thought the way they used to do it “live” was better. It used to have a different rhythm to it. I remember we spent a long time mixing it on small speakers trying to make it sound good for radio. I think we were going over the top on EQ as a result of that, and we’d play it on little speakers and they’d say “We can’t hear the bass and the bass drum”. So you’d turn it up so you could hear the bass and the bass drum and then you play it on the big speakers and it would blow your head off! (laughs)

So Paul wanted something that would be compatible in one mix for small and large speakers.

(laughter) Yes. We also went around Europe in the Rolling Stones truck taping concerts and it was better then. Also, out of all that stuff came one song – THE MESS – out of five days. He’s very good at spending money for things like that and then doing nothing with it.

Alan Parsons interview – “The Rise Of Alan Parsons” by Howard Cummings, published on the October 1976 issue of the Recording Engineer/Producer (RE/P) magazine

Let’s jump back to the early years. At 18 years old, you’re an assistant at Abbey Road Studios. How did that happen?

I had been working for the parent company, which is EMI Records, in the department known as Tape Records. This is before cassettes; it was a department that was making reel-to-reel plastic spools on quarter-inch tape, putting up EMI’s products.

I was involved with making copies of master tapes, maintaining the production machines. We could run off 24 copies at the space of four minutes because everything was run at four-times speed, both sides together.

That department gave me access to a lot of great music; and because it was an allied department to Abbey Road, I’ve been one of the first people to hear [The Beatles’ 1967 classic album] ‘Sgt. Pepper’ when it was completed, and that had a pretty profound effect on me.

I just was very lucky. I timed things right; the management at the time wanted to fire a couple of people and I got the job. Soon after writing a letter, I was working there, very much as a trainee in the tape library.

That was the first thing that the new recruits got to do, working in the tape library. But that was only about a month before I was down, being a fly on the wall on sessions.

You had such an enviable opportunity to be there at some incredible sessions. Tell us a little bit about ‘Abbey Road’ and ‘Let It Be.’

‘Let It Be’ was the first to happen, though they released in reverse order. That was actually nothing to do with the Abbey Road Studios except that I was sent down as a member of staff to help them out.

And it was quite an intimidating experience, walking into the Apple basement studio. There were all four Beatles there, their wives, and it was intimidating, but amazing at the same time.

You worked later with Paul McCartney and Wings…

Well, yes. As a result of working on the ‘Abbey Road’ album, at least half the time they were there making it, but I got to know Paul a bit better.

And as I progressed from being an assistant engineer to a fully-fledged balance engineer as they were called at Abbey Road at the time, yeah, I was let loose with Paul on some of the sessions for [1973’s] ‘Red Rose Speedway’ and ‘Hi, Hi, Hi’ and ‘C Moon’ as singles.

And I probably got to know Paul and Linda best on the [1971] ‘Wild Life’ album, which I didn’t engineer; I did a mix on one of the songs on Wings’ ‘Wild Life,’ and Paul said, ‘It’s fine, we’ll go with it.’

So that was my first real breakthrough, just getting a mix of the Wings onto that first album. […]

Alan Parsons – From Ultimate-Guitar.Com, July 12, 2020

What was it like working with Paul McCartney?

He expected a lot of the engineers and he worked us hard – “Let’s get a better drum sound,” things like that. He and I became friends through our professional association, and I was always in awe of his talent from day one ‘til today. There is just this atmosphere that is created when he’s in a room – he lights it up.

Alan Parsons – Interview with John Borack, Goldmine Magazine, March 30, 2018

Last updated on May 6, 2022

Albums, EPs & singles which Alan Parsons contributed to

No One's Gonna Change Our World

By Various Artists • Official album

Contribution: Assistant mixing engineer • 1 songs

Wild Life

By Wings • LP

Contribution: Mixing engineer assistant, Recording engineer assistant • 10 songs

Hi, Hi, Hi / C Moon

By Wings • 7" Single

Contribution: Mixing engineer • 2 songs

Love Is Strange / I Am Your Singer

By Wings • 7" Single

Contribution: Mixing engineer assistant • 2 songs

Helen Wheels / Country Dreamer

By Paul McCartney & Wings • 7" Single

Contribution: Mixing engineer, Recording engineer • 1 songs

My Love / The Mess

By Paul McCartney • 7" Single

Contribution: Recording engineer • 1 songs

Red Rose Speedway

By Paul McCartney & Wings • LP

Contribution: Mixing engineer, Recording engineer • 9 songs

Walking In The Park With Eloise / Bridge On The River Suite

By The Country Hams • 7" Single

Contribution: Recording engineer • 1 songs

Band On The Run / Zoo Gang

By Paul McCartney & Wings • 7" Single

Contribution: Recording engineer • 1 songs

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