Pilot and Kate Bush guitarist Ian Bairnson dies, aged 69

9 April 2023, 16:02

Pilot (clockwise from left Ian Bairnson, Stuart Tosh, David Paton, Billy Lyall)
Pilot (clockwise from left Ian Bairnson, Stuart Tosh, David Paton, Billy Lyall). Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

Shetland-born musician Ian Bairnson, who also played with the Alan Parsons Project, had dementia before he died.

Ian Bairnson, the guitarist who performed on Kate Bush’s legendary 1978 single 'Wuthering Heights', has died at the age of 69, his wife has confirmed.

The artist, who was a former member of the pop rock band Pilot, and guitarist for rock band the Alan Parsons Project, had been living with dementia.

Bairnson played on Kate Bush’s first two albums, and also played on over 100 albums with artists including Neil Diamond, Joe Cocker and Mick Fleetwood.

His wife Leila Bairnson paid tribute on Instagram to “the sweetest, kindest, loving husband”.

Pilot - Magic (1975 - HD)

“It is with deep sadness and regret that I let you know that my loving husband Ian Bairnson has passed away on Friday 7 April,” she wrote.

“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’.

“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.”

Ian Bairnson played on Kate Bush's first two albums
Ian Bairnson played on Kate Bush's first two albums. Picture: Getty

She also thanked the doctors and nurses who looked after her husband, saying: “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.”

Ian Bairnson was a session guitarist before finding fame after joining former Bay City Rollers stars David Paton and Billy Lyall to form Pilot in 1973.

Several members of the band later formed the Alan Parsons Project, from 1975 to 1990.

He also played with Bucks Fizz, co-writing their hits 'If You Can’t Stand the Heat' and 'Run for Your Life'.

He stopped performing in 2018, after being diagnosed with a” progressive neurological condition”.

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