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Eric Woolfson

Singer/Songwriter, lyricist and the (far) lesser known half of the hugely successful Alan Parsons Project Eric Woolfson has been in the shadows for much of his musical career and yet his influence on the prog outfits of today is undoubtedly huge. His work since his APP days in musical theatre has also been well worthy of note, and yet once again his is not a name that trips readily from musical theatre goers lips. In fact we can't think of one other artist of his stature that would be able to sit unnoticed in a room full of people who own his work, all of which makes us wonder if in retrospect it was not perhaps the best of ideas to allow his band to be named solely for his previous project partner?

Eric Woolfson: “Calling it The Alan Parsons Project was both the best and the worst decision of my career. The best because I have enjoyed the success without the fame or media attention. The worst because no one knows who the hell I am.”

Total Music: You wrote material for people like Marianne Faithfull, Frank Ifield, The Tremeloes, Marmalade, Peter Noone and more, how did this come about?

Eric Woolfson: “It just so happened that these artists covered songs I wrote, they weren't specifically written for them. My first publisher, Andrew Loog Oldham had arrangements with some of them by which he could nominate what they recorded and some of my songs were covered in this way. Chris Farlowe was another artist who covered a song of mine ('Baby Make it Soon') which was Mick Jagger's first production outside the Stones, but of course his song 'Out of Time', which was originally meant to be the B Side, turned out very much better than mine.”

Total Music: You didn’t ever tour with the APP, why?

Eric Woolfson: “The concept of the APP was that it was focused on the quality of record production and Alan's role as engineer/producer. Without wishing in any way to diminish his enormous contribution to the records, Alan's visual contribution to the records was basically sitting behind the desk and twiddling knobs which was just not condusive to a stage act. Alan now tours with a band, but he gave no indication of any desire to do this while the Project was actually making records and we were working together."

Total Music: Although you sang on many of the Project's biggest hits - such as 'Time', 'Don't Answer Me' and 'Eye in the Sky' APP featured various different vocalists and didn't ever have a 'front person' so to speak, do you think albums sales suffered due to not having one focal vocal point?

Eric Woolfson: “Yes! But the whole concept of the APP was not to necessarily focus on one vocalist. Alan had often be-moaned the fact that with the artists he produced, very often the lead vocalist had too much influence and the idea, as he expressed it, was that if he didn't have to take account of the wishes of the lead vocalist, he could make much better records.”

Total Music: All of the Alan Parsons Project albums have recently been remastered and re-released are you happy with the results?

Eric Woolfson: “I am absolutely thrilled with both the content and the look of the re-issued albums. It has been a delightful experience for me to delve into the archives and re-discover some long forgotten gems which by their inclusion in the re-mastered albums, give the record buyers a unique opportunity to glimpse behind the curtain of the recording studio and experience aspects of the work in the progress which they would never normally have heard.”

Eric Woolfson and Alan Parsons

Total Music: What prompted the recording and release of The Alan Parsons Project That Never Was?

Eric Woolfson: "While I was going through the archives to try to find material for the reissues, I was pleasantly surprised to find fragments of songs that I had put forward originally for inclusion but which, for some reason, had not been included, or even completed as compositions. I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to either complete the partially made recordings or in most cases record the songs fresh. The usual reason why these songs were not proceeded with was because they weren't to Alan's taste and as he was the producer/engineer, his word was usually final on such matters. I identified some 30 - 40 songs which fall into this category, and The Alan Parsons Project That Never Was is just the first volume, I'm currently working on the second which I think will be of interest to fans who regularly ask what else Alan and I might have done had we continued working together.”

Total Music: You first visited the stories and poetry of Edgar Allan Poe on APP's Tales of Mystery and Imagination what made you return to him for your musical?

Eric Woolfson: "When we signed the original Tales of Mystery... album to 20th Century Records, it was a one album deal, we then signed with another label and I told them I wanted to do a Tales of Mystery Volume II, but as they didn't have Volume I, they weren't interested and I had to wait many years before revisiting my hero. Poe was such a great source of inspiration for me that when I did eventually resume work on More Tales... I had even more material than I expected and made the POE musical out of the new songs. We are releasing the album and the DVD of the Abbey Road POE Showcase where the studio was turned into a theatre for the purposes of filming the work.”

Edgar Allan Poe is available on Limelight and the Abbey Road DVD is also out now, you can find more about Eric at www.ericwoolfsonmusic.com you can find out more on the Alan Parsons Project at www.the-alan-parsons-project.com, the POE musical at www.edgar-allan-poe-musical.com and the The Alan Parsons Project That Never Was at www.the-alan-parsons-project-that-never-was.com

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