The Legacy of Ian Bairnson: A Guitar Virtuoso Remembered
Ian Bairnson may not be a household name, but his guitar skills have left an indelible mark on the music industry. Sadly, he passed away last April, but his legacy lives on through his unforgettable guitar solo on Kate Bush’s iconic hit, “Wuthering Heights.” Additionally, Bairnson contributed his electric guitar talents to albums by renowned artists such as Kenny Rogers and Tom Jones, while also gracing the stage as a live guitarist for Sting and Stanley Clarke. Not to mention his unforgettable appearance on Paul McCartney’s chart-topping track, “Mull of Kintyre.”
The Masterpiece: Sirius
Of all Bairnson’s impressive works, none can compare to “Sirius,” the epic instrumental piece that opened the Alan Parsons Project’s “Eye in the Sky” album in 1982. This track gained widespread recognition when it became the walk-on theme for the Chicago Bulls and the legendary Michael Jordan in the mid-’80s. From there, “Sirius” gained popularity, becoming a staple in stadiums and arenas worldwide.
The Birth of a Legend
“Sirus” originated as a simple riff played on Alan Parsons’ Fairlight synthesizer, with a touch of artificial echo. The anticipation builds as the riff repeats, leading to Bairnson’s entrance with a thundering three-chord motif that perfectly complements the synthesizers. His mastery is evident as he delivers an eight-bar lead break with impeccable vibrato and phrasing, reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour.
A Musical Maestro
While Alan Parsons directed the overall musical direction of the project, he entrusted Bairnson to deliver flawless solos that perfectly fit each track. Bairnson’s playing on “Sirius” is a testament to his skill, combining tasteful melodiousness with raw power, a rarity in the guitar-heavy ’80s era. Armed with his trusty 1973 Gibson Les Paul Custom, Bairnson’s solo captivates audiences, matching the intensity of the band’s live performances.
A Musical Legacy Preserved
Alan Parsons praises Bairnson’s classic solo on “Sirius,” noting that it has become a staple in their live shows, faithfully performed note-for-note by Bairnson himself or other musicians. Bairnson’s contribution to music, particularly on “Sirius,” remains a testament to his exceptional talent and lasting influence in the music industry.
In conclusion, Ian Bairnson may not have achieved widespread fame, but his musical contributions, particularly on tracks like “Sirius,” solidify his status as a guitar virtuoso whose talent will be remembered for years to come.