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Pilot Band

Pilot were a Scottish rock group, formed in 1973 in Edinburgh by David Paton and Billy Lyall. They are best known for their songs "Magic" and "January".


Both Paton and Lyall had briefly been substitute members of the Bay City Rollers before that band's breakthrough. Joined by drummer Stuart Tosh, the band recorded several demos during 1972 and 1974. They were signed to a management contract with Nick Heath and Tim Heath, sons of British bandleader Ted Heath, and John Cavanagh. In due course they signed to a worldwide recording deal with EMI Records. After the recording of their debut album, From the Album of the Same Name, guitarist Ian Bairnson (who had played on the album as a session musician) joined the band permanently.

The 1974 single "Magic" from their first album, produced by Alan Parsons and written by Paton,[3] was a No. 11 UK[4] and No. 5 US success. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in August 1975.[5] The song "January" gave them their greatest success in the UK, securing the number one spot in the UK Singles Chart on 1 February 1975. It stayed at number one for three weeks. (It also went to number one in Australia where it stayed up top for eight weeks; in the United States, it reached the lower end of the Hot 100.) However, the group failed to make the Top 30 again.[4] The arranger of "January", Andrew Powell, went on to record Kate Bush, and both Paton and Bairnson played on her debut album, The Kick Inside, which included "Wuthering Heights".[6] Paton and Bairnson also played on Kate Bush's second album Lionheart (1978).[7]

The band's other singles chart successes were "Call Me Round" and "Just a Smile" (both 1975), which each hit the top 40 in the UK and nowhere else.[8] By 1977, only Paton and Bairnson were left from the original foursome, and they recorded Pilot's final album (the aptly titled Two's a Crowd) with session musicians.

By 1978, all of Pilot's members had begun other projects, notably Tosh, Paton and Bairnson becoming members of the Alan Parsons Project, and Tosh also working with 10cc.

Lyall died of AIDS-related causes in 1989.

Paton and Bairnson reconvened in 2002, to re-record the original Pilot album Two's a Crowd. The subsequent issue was entitled Blue Yonder.

In 2003 and 2006, the band co-wrote the Irish pop band Westlife's singles "Obvious" and "Amazing", which peaked at No. 3 and No. 4 respectively in the UK Singles Chart. Both were released as the third singles from their number one studio albums, Turnaround, and Face to Face.

As they approached the 40th anniversary of Pilot's debut album, Paton, Bairnson, and Tosh reunited as Pilot. They released A Pilot Project in August 2014 as an homage to The Alan Parsons Project singer Eric Woolfson.


Studio albums

Compilation albums

  • Best of Pilot (1980)
  • A's B's & Rarities (2005)
    • 1. "Magic"
    • 2. "Just Let Me Be"
    • 3. "January"
    • 4. "Never Give Up"
    • 5. "Call Me Round"
    • 6. "Do Me Good"
    • 7. "Just a Smile"
    • 8. "Don't Speak Loudly"
    • 9. "Are You in Love?"
    • 10. "You're My No. 1"
    • 11. "High into the Sky"
    • 12. "Sooner or Later"
    • 13. "Lady Luck"
    • 14. "Dear Artist"
    • 15. "Running Water"
    • 16. "First After Me"
    • 17. "Canada"
    • 18. "Mover"
    • 19. "Penny in My Pocket"
    • 20. "Steps"
    • 21. "No Ties, No Strings (David Paton solo)"
    • 22. "Stop and Let Go (David Paton solo)"
  • The Craighall Demos 71:76 (2007)
    • 1. "The Library Door"
    • 2. "Lazy Davie"
    • 3. "Joe"
    • 4. "Love Has Got Me By the Throat"
    • 5. "Meet Me Now"
    • 6. "Now That I Found You"
    • 7. "My Lonely Companion"
    • 8. "Reason"
    • 9. "Cold Stories"
    • 10. "You're My Number One"
    • 11. "Passion Piece"
    • 12. "January"
    • 13. "You're Devotion"
    • 14. "Heard It All Before"
    • 15. "Lady Luck"
    • 16. "Scorpio"
    • 17. "Get Up and Go"
    • 18. "Goldmine"
  • Anthology (2007)


  • "Just a Smile" (1974) - U.S. #90, AUS #49
  • "Magic" (1974) - UK #11, U.S. #5, AUS #12, CAN #1
  • "Ra-Ta-Ta" (1974) (as Scotch Mist)
  • "January" (1975) - UK #1, U.S. #87, GER #21, AUS #1 (8 weeks)
  • "Call Me Round" (1975) - UK #34
  • "Just a Smile" (1975, new version) - UK #31[8]
  • "Lady Luck" (1975)
  • "Running Water" (1976)
  • "Canada" (1976)
  • "Penny in My Pocket" (1976)
  • "Get Up and Go" (1977)
  • "Monday Tuesday" (1977)

Film soundtracks


  1. ^ Greg Prato. "Pilot | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved .
  2. ^ "Glam Rock". Ooocities.org. Retrieved .
  3. ^ "Pilot - Magic (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved .
  4. ^ a b Roberts, David (2001). British Hit Singles (14th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 45. ISBN 0-85156-156-X.
  5. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 362. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  6. ^ Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 166. ISBN 0-85112-250-7.
  7. ^ "Lionheart - Kate Bush | Credits". AllMusic. 1978-11-13. Retrieved .
  8. ^ a b c Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 426. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.

External links

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