The Scottish-born musician passed away on Friday (April 7) after a “long battle with dementia,” his wife, Leila Bairnson, announced through social media (via The Guardian).
“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,’” Leila wrote in an Instagram post on Saturday (April 8). “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.”
She continued, “I would like to thank the doctors and nurses at Frimley Park Hospital, the managers and carers at Lynwood Care Home and our families and close friends for the love and support they have provided us during these challenging years of Ian’s long battle with dementia.”
Bairnson, who was born in Shetland, was a session musician before joining Scottish band Pilot in 1973. He went on to become guitarist for the Alan Parsons Project, beginning with the group’s 1975 debut album, Tales of Mystery and Imagination, through 1990’s Freudiana. Decades later, he continued performing on Parsons’ solo projects, most recently on his 2019 album, The Secret.
Parsons remembered his former bandmate in a touching tribute through Facebook on Saturday.
“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of my good friend and musical icon, Ian Bairnson,” Parsons wrote in his lengthy message. “I have always considered Ian a musical genius. 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.”
Bairnson was also featured on Bush’s 1978 album, The Kick Inside, delivering the guitar solo on “Wuthering Heights.” He also appeared on the U.K. pop icon’s albums Lionheart (1978), Never for Ever (1980), and The Dreaming (1982).
Elsewhere during his career, Bairnson played as a session musician on projects by Joe Cocker, Yes’ Jon Anderson and Mick Fleetwood, according to Rolling Stone. He also toured with artists like Sting and Eric Clapton, among others.
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