Ian Bairnson, Guitarist for Alan Parsons Project and Kate Bush, Dies at 69

    Ian Bairnson, the Scottish musician who played guitar for the Alan Parsons Project and Kate Bush, has died at the age of 69. His wife Leila Bairnson revealed on Instagram that her husband died following a “long battle with dementia.” “Ian was the sweetest, kindest, loving husband I could ever have wished for and I take comfort that he is resting now up there in his very own piece of ‘Blue Blue Sky’,” she wrote. “Although Ian has left us, his musical legacy stays with us and will continue to delight and brighten our lives, as it did his, forever.”

    Born in Shetland in 1953, Bairnson learned how to play the guitar when he was six. He worked as a session musician for a few years before joining the band Pilot in 1973, contributing the harmony guitar parts on their hit single ‘Magic’. Their 1974 debut From the Album of the Same Name was produced by Alan Parsons, who would later enlist Bairnson for the Alan Parsons Project.

    Bairnson also performed on Kate Bush’s first four albums: 1978’s The Kick Inside and Lionheart, 1980’s Never For Ever, and 1982’s The Dreaming. He played the closing guitar solo on ‘Wuthering Heights’. He also worked on albums by Joe Cocker, Mick Fleetwood, and Yes’ Jon Anderson, and toured with Eric Clapton, Sting, and more.

    Parsons paid tribute to his longtime friend and collaborator on social media. “I have always considered Ian a musical genius,” Parsons wrote on Facebook. “It was a great pleasure to have him participate on every album by the Alan Parsons Project and several other albums under my name since. He has played with many other talented artists as well throughout his incredible career.”

    “He was a true master of the guitar—he knew every possible playable guitar chord and how to describe it,” Parsons continued. “Amazingly, he never took the time to learn conventional musical notation. Another indication of his incredible talent was when he picked up the saxophone and played it like a pro on stage with the British incarnation of the Alan Parsons Live Project, he had only spent a few short weeks of learning the instrument.”

    He concluded: “I recommend anyone reading this to play ‘The Very Last Time’ from the album The Time Machine. It’s a beautiful song and was written by Ian to commemorate the death of someone in his personal life. It was sung by Beverly Craven, with whom Ian played many concerts. It now seems incredibly appropriate as a musical obituary to all those who, like me, loved him dearly. Ian will be greatly missed, but never forgotten.”

    Konstantinos Pappis
    Konstantinos Pappis
    Konstantinos Pappis is a writer, journalist, and music editor at Our Culture. His work has also appeared in Pitchfork, GIGsoup, and other publications. He currently lives in Athens, Greece.

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