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, was a No. 11 UK 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.
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.
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.
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.