Before releasing "Tales of Mystery and Imagination: Edgar Allan Poe" in 1976, Alan Parsons had already engineered some of the top names in the music business - the Beatles' "Abbey Road" and Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon."
"I never professed to be anything more than just a strummer, really," Parsons said during a phone call from London, England. "I've always said I've made records for years without picking up an instrument."Salt Lake City will spend an evening with Alan Parsons and his current touring band, Wednesday, Oct. 2, at Abravanel Hall. The music begins at 7:30 p.m.
Parsons, who has a background in classical music - he played flute and guitar as a child - left television and camera research in school and became a technical trainee for EMI Records in 1967. He researched vinyl sound quality and met George Martin and the four lads from Liverpool, who would ultimately change his life.
"One of the first things I heard (at EMI) was `Revolver'," Parsons remembered. "Within a year and a half I started working full-time at Abbey Road studios."
Parsons' musical side began rearing its creative little mind.
"You can't work with one of the greatest pop bands of all time without something rubbing off on you," Parsons said.
During the Pink Floyd sessions, Parsons garnered a taste for innovation - and his first Grammy nomination.
"The Floyd were very much into cutting up bits of tape and sticking them together," Parsons said. "I would have loved to have worked with them after `Darkside,' but the business part of the music scene got in the way."
But Parsons did retain the idea of the pop-rock concept album. "Tales of Mystery . . ." put music to the gothic stories of Poe.
"We were purely a music-making outfit," he said. "The marketing people, to my disdain, said the album needed an identity and I was chosen. Thus, (the band's name): the Alan Parsons Project."
The platinum-selling follow-up "I, Robot," a title taken from an Isaac Asimov novel, studied the relationship between technology and man.
"Eve," probably one of the boldest concepts tackled by the Project (which featured key-board-ist/-collaborator Eric Woolf-son), focused on the battle of the sexes.
In 1980, the Project released its commercial platinum breakthrough, "Turn of a Friendly Card," which conceptualized the gamble of life. The album spawned two Top 20 hits, "Games People Play" and "Time."
"Eye in the Sky," released in 1983, capitalized on George Orwell's idea of lost individuality in his book "1984." The album's title track peaked at No. 3 on the charts, and the album rose to No. 7.
"Ammonia Avenue" featured the hit "Don't Answer Me," which was nominated at the first MTV Music Awards in 1984. Then came "Vulture Culture," "Stereotomy" and "Gaudi" - inspired by Spanish architecht Antonio Gaudi.
In 1985, Parsons did his first movie soundtrack, "Ladyhawke." That led to a stage musical and album called "Freudiana."
"I'm not real comfortable with doing musicals," said Parsons. "Eric was and still does them."
In 1992, Woolfson and Parsons split.
"I started thinking about making another album," Parsons said. So he dropped the "Project" from the name and recorded "Try Anything Once," in 1992.
"Then I began thinking of taking the music on the road," he said.
The tours became a reality in 1994 when Parsons and his band hit Europe, Mexico, Chile, Brazil and the United States. The band's new album, "On Air," another concept album dedicated to the dream of flying, features a CD-ROM disc that Parsons says is a "gift."
"The record company isn't charging anything extra for the extra disc that's included in the package," Parsons said. "It's something I want to give away."
Salt Lake City is the second stop of this year's tour.
"I think it's a lot easier to take the music on the road now than a few years back," said Parsons. "The technology has really helped us, and we're pretty comfortable soundwise."
With that, Parsons seemingly grinned over the phone and said, "That makes me want to keep doing this until my teeth fall out."