Singer/bassist David Paton spent his early years in Leith (Edinburgh) and then moved to the tough district of Inch, later joining The Bay City Rollers.
While playing in the Rollers, David met organist Billy Lyall who hailed from Edinburgh’s Tollcross district. They both played in the Rollers for a while, then left and lost contact until they came face to face in the Edinburgh Music Library one day. They got together again and asked Stuart Tosh to join them as their drummer.
With the success of the single Magic (1974) and their first tour with Sparks, David got in touch with Shetland-born guitarist Ian Bairnson to join them.
January went to #1 in February 1975 and Call Me Round and Just a Smile both hit the top 40 that same year.
Once the hit singles started drying up, though, Pilot seemed to lurch from crisis to crisis. First, Billy Lyall left to record his own album, and then Stuart Tosh quit for “domestic” reasons.
Tosh stuck around long enough to play on the group’s third album, Morin Heights (1976), which was recorded in Canada (at Morin Heights Studios – hence the title) with producer Roy Thomas Baker.
By the time they recorded the harder-edged Two’s A Crowd album the following year, Pilot was really just the duo of David Paton and Ian Bairnson. Unable to reach the lofty chart heights of their previous efforts, the pair finally called it a day and became members of The Alan Parsons Project. They both also played on The Kick Inside – the debut LP from Kate Bush.
Stuart Tosh worked with a revamped lineup of 10cc, replacing Kevin Godley on drums.
Billy Lyall died of AIDS-related causes in 1989, aged 36. Guitarist Ian Bairnson died on 7 April 2023 following a long battle with dementia. He was 69.
Keyboards, flute, vocals