Eric Woolfson PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 03 December 2009 13:35

Eric WoolfsonEric Woolfson

Born: 18 March 1945

Died: 2 December 2009

Age: 64

Cause of death: Cancer

Notable because: One half of the Alan Parsons project and the voice on many of their songs, including Eye in the sky and Don't answer me. Worldwide sales of their work is over 40 Million albums.

Eric Woolfsonwas a Scottish lead singer, songwriter and lyricist, executive producer, pianist, and co-founder of The Alan Parsons Project.

After splitting up with Alan Parsons during the recording of Freudiana, Woolfson pursued musical theatre. His works have mainly been performed in Germany and Austria, but have also been heard in Korea and Japan.

Woolfson, who belonged to a Jewish family, was born in the Charing Cross area of Glasgow and raised in the Pollokshields area.

He started composing music in his early teens. He moved to London where he found work as a session pianist, at the age of 18. The record producer for the Rolling Stones, Andrew Oldham, signed him up as a songwriter. During the following years, Woolfson wrote songs for such artists as Marianne Faithfull, Frank Ifield, Joe Dassin, The Tremeloes, Marmalade, Dave Berry, and Peter Noone. His songs were recorded by over 100 artists both in Europe and America. During the '60s he worked with two then-unknown writers, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.Eric Woolfson photo

In 1971, with the assistance of Eric Stewart, Kevin Godley, Lol Creme and Graham Gouldman (who later became 10cc), a single was produced under the name of Eric Elder ("San Tokay" b/w "Sunflower") and issued on UK Philips 6006 081 and US Philips 40699. Woolfson then produced a single by Graham Gouldman ("Nowhere To Go" b/w "Growing Older") which was issued in 1972 on UK CBS 7739.

In the early '70s, Eric turned his hand to management and was instantly successful. His first two signings were Carl Douglas (whose record Kung Fu Fighting was one of the biggest selling hits of all time) and engineer/record producer Alan Parsons.

In 1975, Woolfson joined forces with record producer Alan Parsons who was a recording engineer on many Beatles and Paul McCartney albums as well as having engineered Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon

Eric and Alan formed a new kind of collaboration that would allow Parson’s engineering skills to be used to the fullest extent while allowing Woolfson to exploit his talents as a songwriter and lyricist. The Alan Parsons Project was born, the name originally being intended as a working title for their collaborative project. From 1976 to 1987, Woolfson and Parsons collaborated on the conception and lyrics for all ten albums by The Alan Parsons Project, which have achieved world-wide sales in excess of 40 million.

On every Project album, Woolfson would sing a guide vocal track for each song, which the album's eventual lead vocalists would use as a reference. Some of these tracks can be heard on the new remastered editions of various Project albums released in 2007. Woolfson himself was the actual singer on many of the Project's biggest hits, such as "Time", "Don't Answer Me" and "Eye in the Sky". was originally meant to be the eleventh album by The Alan Parsons Project, but Woolfson was keen to explore the possibility of realising the project as a musical. While recording the album, Brian Brolly was introduced to Woolfson and promised to steer the album in this new direction. Brolly was previously a partner with Andrew Lloyd Webber, and together they created such musicals as Cats With some help from Brolly, Woolfson was able to turn Freudiana into a stage musical.

Before the Freudiana stage production opened in 1990 in Vienna, a double-length studio album was released. The musical had a successful run, and it was planned that the show would open in other cities. However, plans were put on hold when a lawsuit broke out between Brolly and Woolfson, each fighting for control of the project. In the end, Brolly won.

The studio disc (the "white" album) was quite difficult to obtain for a while. There was also a double-length German-language cast disc (the "black" album) which is currently out of print.

Woolfson was eager to write for musical theatre. He explained his career switch during an interview in 2004:

"I eventually developed The Alan Parsons Project as a vehicle but then I realised that there was more to it than that and that Andrew Lloyd Webber was right and that the stage musical was a fulfilling media for a writer like myself. I got into stage musicals in the mid-eighties." His musicals are mainly performed in Germany. This was for two reasons: The Alan Parsons Project was well known in Germany, and at that time the arts were very well funded there.

His first musical premiered in Vienna in 1990: Freudiana, about Sigmund Freud. The success of this first work led to Woolfson’s second musical Gaudi (concerning the Spanish architect Antonio Gaudi) (1995), which ran for over five years in several German productions. Gambler, Woolfson’s third musical also premiered in Germany in 1996 and had a first run of over 500 performances. Gambler has had five productions in Korea, one of which also toured Japan in 2002 (the first time a Korean language production had been staged in this way). A fourth musical Edgar Allan Poe, based on the life of the author, was given a demonstration production at Abbey Road studios, London in 2003.

Dancing with Shadows (based on the anti-war play Forest Fire by the Korean playwright Cham Bum-Suk and with a book by Ariel Dorfman) was premiered in July 2007 in Korea.

Woolfson was also active in the short-lived British Social Democratic Party or SDP.

Woolfson died of cancer on December 2, 2009. His passing was announced by the following message posted on his official Facebook page: "We are very sad to have to tell you that Eric Woolfson passed away in the early hours of this morning after a long and brave battle with cancer. He very much enjoyed seeing all your kind comments and posts on this Facebook page and his family wanted to thank you for your appreciation of his work."


Last Updated on Thursday, 03 December 2009 13:43

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