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Top Of The Progs: Alan Parsons Project - Eye In The Sky

The inside story of classic prog hit singles

In 2009 we spoke to the late Eric Woolfson about Alan Parsons Project's biggest hit. This is what we had to say...

Eye In The Sky b/w Gemini

(Arista, 1982)

Highest UK chart position: Did not chart, but etched No. 3 in the US.

This was the band's first, and only, Top 10 hit in America. It topped the charts in Spain, where it was the biggest selling single of 1982. This was also a hit in France, Italy, New Zealand and Australia. It was sampled by P. Diddy on his 2001 song The Saga Continues, and also sampled by American rapper Immortal Technique.

Where did the inspiration for Eye In The Sky come from?

“At the time, everywhere you looked in America that phrase was being used. It was all over the TV. Stations had their 'eye in the sky' covering all sorts of events, from cop car chases to the weather report. But it crystallised in my mind when I was shown the security system at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas. That was also referred to as an 'eye in the sky', and I thought it would make a good subject for a song.”

What was the reaction to it?

“The strongest reaction was from Alan Parsons. He hated it. I had to fight him all the way to record this, and even then he was convinced we had made a huge mistake. He famously bet guitarist Ian Bairnson that it would be a huge flop as a single. Alan paid up when he knew it was going to be successful. I think Ian framed the cheque! But the fans embraced the song, and the record label loved the fact we could have a hit, despite our seemingly low profile.”

Did you feel like pop stars?

“Well, we never felt like pop stars. We didn't have the image for that. So, having a big hit didn't change anything. We were still anonymous, and very happy to be so. We are the quintessential band that even our biggest fans wouldn't recognise in the street.”

Was having a hit a blessing or a curse?

“It was definitely the former. Obviously, it's always nice when you get that sort of acclaim for a song, although we carried on as if nothing had altered. I was disappointed when Sirius, which precedes Eye In The Sky on the album and was really an intro to it, was cut out of the single version. But it's become famous in its own right, as it's been used at so many sporting occasions in the States.”

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