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That time Alan Parsons said No' to Pink Floyd

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Sometimes you have to take a chance and follow your instincts. Engineer and producer Alan Parsons, long known for the sonic wizardry he bestowed upon highly regarded and hugely successful projects by Pink Floyd, The Beatles, The Hollies, Pilot and others, was made an offer that no one thought he could refuse. It was late 1974 and Pink Floyd was preparing to enter Abbey Road Studios in London to record the follow-up to the mega-successful 'Dark Side of The Moon.'

Parsons had devoted more than six months of his life to helping make 'Dark Side' the beloved classic that we know today. Bringing the record to life was equal parts exhilaration and frustration for Parsons, who remembers longing for 'Monty Python's Flying Circus' episodes to air on BBC because it meant the band would take a break to watch, leaving Parsons some quality alone time to prepare mixes without interference.

While certainly not the easiest record to make, 'Dark Side of The Moon' turned out to be a bigger success than anyone imagined possible, and Pink Floyd was determined to have Parsons to record the follow-up. Not only that, they offered him a full-time position with the band. If Parsons accepted, he would be in charge of all live and recorded sound by Pink Floyd starting with 1975's 'Wish You Were Here.' He turned them down.

Parsons had already achieved considerable success as producer for a varied roster of artists and felt compelled to continue on this path. He was even more eager to realize a dream to be part of a musical project bearing his name. Enter Scottish songwriter, vocalist and producer Eric Woolfson, whom Parsons had met at Abbey Road Studios. Parsons and Woolfson formed The Alan Parsons Project in 1975 and released 'Tales of Mystery and Imagination' the following year, the first of 10 studio albums.

In last week's issue of The Maine Edge, I shared Parson's fond remembrance of producer George Martin, with whom he had worked on The Beatles' records 'Let It Be' and 'Abbey Road.' This week, Parsons talks about his own music.

Dow: 'The Alan Parsons Live Project' begins a tour this Friday, March 25, in Phoenix , and the tour continues through the spring. Do you plan to perform material from throughout your recording career?

Parsons: Yes, we'll do all of the hits of the past, and it starts this weekend with shows in Phoenix and then Las Vegas, Tucson, California and the Canary Islands.

Dow: Is it called 'The Greatest Hits' tour?

Parsons: (laughs) We don't call it that that's something the promoters came up with. We play all of the hits that people will recognize ('I Robot,' 'Turn of a Friendly Card,' 'Don't Answer Me,' 'Eye In The Sky,' 'Time,' 'I Wouldn't Want to Be Like You,' 'Games People Play.') and some of the other material that we receive requests for. I'm really looking forward to it.

Dow: Tell me about the live Blu-ray/ DVD disc coming out in May called 'The Alan Parsons Symphonic Project.'

Parsons: I'm really pleased with it. It was recorded in Columbia with a symphony orchestra. We're still doing a bit of post-production, audio mixing and video editing, but it's scheduled for May 30 and I'm very proud of it. It is certainly the best live album we've ever put together.

Dow: When you hear music that you've written performed by an orchestra, is it as goosebump-inducing for the composer as we imagine it might be?

Parsons: It's always exciting to have an orchestra there particularly a full-sized one. This is a 70-piece orchestra. We have done smaller shows in the states with a 30-piece orchestra, but when you have all of the percussion, full brass section, horns, woodwinds and that big string section, it's absolutely enthralling to be there and to play with them.

Dow: Of all of the music that you've been associated with, what are you the most proud of?

Parsons: I would have to say that the initial success of The Alan Parsons Project's first album was a milestone for me. We set out to make our own 'Dark Side of The Moon,' if you like. Eric Woolfsen, who sadly passed away in 2009, had a vision to make a concept album based on the work of Edgar Allen Poe, and it turned out to be a really good choice for a concept album. Concept albums have become a little unfashionable in modern times, but back then it was the absolute flavor of the month to do such a thing. To have my name on an album that I produced, in bold type, as the artist, was my crowning glory.

'The Big Morning Show with Mike Dow' can be heard on Big 104 FM The Biggest Hits of the '60s, '70s & '80s - airing on 104.7 (Bangor/Belfast), 104.3 (Augusta/Waterville) and 107.7 (Bar Harbor/Ellsworth).

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