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Meet the ’70s Rock Band Pilot [VIDEOS/PHOTOS]

Magic vinyl
Late '70s re-issue vinyl. (Craig Allen photo)

“Magic” is one of “Jersey’s Favorite Hits,” and the biggest chart hit for the Scottish rock band “Pilot.”

The band “Pilot” was formed in 1973 in Edinburgh Scotland by former “Bay City Rollers” members David Paton (lead singer) and Billy Lyall (keyboards).

Staurt Tosh (drums) and Ian Bairnson joined shortly thereafter. Several demos were recorded, and the band signed a worldwide records deal with EMI in 1974.

“Magic” was their first, and biggest, single. It was released in late 1974. It hit the pop charts in the spring of 1975, and went to #5 on the US Top-40 charts in the summer. It went to #11 in the UK. The song, written by David Paton and Billy Lyall, and produced by Alan Parsons, sold over a million copies, and was awarded a “gold disc” by the R.I.A.A.

A second Pilot single, “Just A Smile,”  barely blipped on the US charts, stalling at #90, in the winter of 1975.

Pilot’s third single, “January,” gave them their biggest UK hit, going to #1.  It wasn’t noticed across the pond in America…it only went to #87 on the Top-40 charts, here in early 1976.

By 1977, only David Paton and Ian Bairnson remained. They recorded Pilot’s final album (“Two’s A  Crowd”) alone.

By 1978, all of Pilot’s members were working on other projects. Paton, Bairnson and Tosh joined the “Alan Parsons Project.” Tosh also worked with “10cc.”

Billy Lyall died of AIDS-related causes in 1989.

Interestingly, in 2002, Paton and Bairnson got together and re-recorded their 1977 Pilot album “Two’s A Crowd.”  The re-recording is called “Blue Yonder.”

In addition to being heard on weekends “when the music comes out to play” on New Jersey 101.5, Pilot’s hit song “Magic” has been featured on movie soundtracks over the years.

Rhino 14
Rhino "Have A Nice Day" Volume 14. (Craig Allen photo)

It can also be found on Volume 14 of Rhino Records “Super Hits of the ’70s, Have A Nice Day” series.

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