Eric Woolfson was a 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 has pursued musical theatre. Those are mainly performed in Germany and Austria, but also in Korea and Japan.
Life before The Alan Parsons Project:
He was born in 1945 (18 March 1945 – 2 December 2009) in Glasgow, Scotland, and started composing music in his early teens. He moved to London where he found work as a session pianist, at the age of eighteen. 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, Peter Noone. His songs were recorded by over one hundred artists both in Europe and America. During the sixties he worked with two unknown writers: Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.
In the early seventies, 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.
The start of The Alan Parsons Project:
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 ‘Dark Side of the Moon’.
Eric and Alan formed a new kind of collaboration that would allow Parson’s engineering skills to be exploited to the full and at the same time give Woolfson a vehicle for his talents as a songwriter/lyricist. The Alan Parsons Project was born. From 1976-1987, Eric has conceived and wrote the lyrics for all ten albums by The Alan Parsons Project (he and Parsons collaborated on writing the music), which have achieved world-wide sales in excess of forty million.
Freudiana was originally meant to be the eleventh album by The Alan Parsons Project. While recording the album, Brian Brolly entered the picture and he helped steer the album in a new direction. Brolly was previously a partner with Andrew Lloyd Webber, and together they created such musicals as Cats. With Brolly's help, Woolfson was able to turn Freudiana into a stage musical.
Before the Freudiana stage production opened in 1990, 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 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 by MusicalWorld on July 7, 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. This musical was released in March 2010 as More Tales of Mystery and Imagination on CD and DVD
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
Personal life and death:
Woolfson was active in the British Social Democratic Party or SDP.
Woolfson was married to Hazel from 1969 until his death from kidney cancer in London in the early hours of 2 December 2009. He is survived by both his daughters.
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