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Alan Tarney
Born (1945-11-19) 19 November 1945 (age 78)
Origin Workington, Cumberland, England
  • Record producer
  • songwriter
  • musician
  • Bass
  • keyboards
  • guitar
  • vocals
Years active1969–present
Labels A&M, Bradley's
Formerly of

Alan Tarney (born 19 November 1945) [1] is an English record producer and musician. He was born in Northside, Workington, Cumberland, but spent his teenage years in Adelaide, Australia, where he met his songwriting and musical partner Trevor Spencer. He is best known for his association with Cliff Richard and producing " Take On Me" by a-ha. [2]



Tarney was part of the influx of British migrants who settled in Elizabeth during the height of the 1960s pop music boom. His first major group in Australia was James Taylor Move, a four-piece outfit regarded as one of Australia's first psychedelic rock bands; [1] the original line-up in 1967 comprised Tarney on bass, his longtime collaborator Trevor Spencer on drums, Kevin Peek on lead guitar and Robert (R.J.) Taylor on vocals. Both the James Taylor Move and their rising-star contemporaries the Twilights were formed by various members of two earlier Adelaide bands, Johnny Broome and the Handels, and the Hurricanes. [3]

James Taylor Move's (JTM) early concerts were in support of the Twilights, who soon moved to Melbourne. JTM built up a solid following in Adelaide and in early 1967 they won the South Australian final of the Hoadley's Battle of the Sounds. They headed to Melbourne in July for the national finals, and although they were defeated by the Groop they decided to remain there.

Securing a deal with Festival Records they released their debut single "And I Hear the Fire Sing" / "Magic Eyes" in August 1967. The A-side was apparently considered too radical for local radio, but the B-side was picked up, received plenty of airplay in the southern states and became a Top 40 hit in Melbourne. In October, Festival released their second and final single, "Baby Jane", backed by the raga-influenced "Still I Can Go On".

Peek left the band in May 1968, and was replaced by two new members, John Pugh and organist Lance Dixon. Lead singer Robert Taylor left the following month, and he was replaced by the 18-year-old blues/soul singer Wendy Saddington. This second line-up lasted only a few more months and made no commercial recordings before their split at the end of 1968.

Tarney and Spencer were next reunited with Kevin Peek in the Kevin Peek Trio (1968–69). They moved to the UK in 1969, where they recruited an old Adelaide friend Terry Britten (ex Twilights) to join the group, which was then renamed Quartet (1969–70). Quartet recorded one album with Decca Records which remains unreleased, but two singles were issued on Decca: "Joseph" / "Mama Where Did You Fail" (F13072, 1970) and "Now" / "Will My Lady Come" (F12974, 1970).

After the demise of Quartet, the four members became session musicians and songwriters, recording and writing for many top UK acts including Cliff Richard, Ray Martin Hoskins, GTO Records/the Springfield Revival and Olivia Newton-John. Around this time Tarney also joined the Shadows and was a member from 1973 to 1977. [4] In 1975 he was one half of Tarney/Spencer Band along with Trevor Spencer. [5] They signed a 10-album deal with A&M Records, but met with little success and after three album releases, the group disbanded and discontinued their contract with agreement by the record label. [3][ better source needed]


In 1979, Tarney began the biggest period of his career when he wrote and arranged the Cliff Richard No. 1, " We Don't Talk Anymore". [6] [7] This led to him becoming Richard's record producer of his next two albums, I'm No Hero (1980) and Wired for Sound (1981). At this time he also wrote and produced Barbara Dickson and Leo Sayer – his distinctive sound being heard on the hit singles " January February" and " More Than I Can Say". [8] [9]

Tarney went on to bigger success in the mid-1980s when he teamed up with Norwegian pop band A-ha. Producing the second version (after Tony Mansfield) of their first single " Take On Me" (1984), the song went on to become a worldwide hit. He worked on the band's biggest selling first three albums, being a co-Producer of Hunting High and Low (1985), and Producer of Scoundrel Days (1986) and Stay on These Roads (1988). [10] He renewed his working relationship with the band in the production of their album release Cast in Steel (2015).

He produced David Cassidy's comeback 1985 album Romance, which included the top ten hit "The Last Kiss" co-written by Raymond Hoskins and David Cassidy. [11] The song had previously been written for Cliff Richard for his 1981 album Wired for Sound. The Richard version however, contained different lyrics and was titled Young Love. [12] [13]

He returned again to write and produce for the Cliff Richard albums Always Guaranteed (1987) and Stronger (1989).

Alan Tarney wrote two songs for the Sky album Cadmium (1983) - "Return to Me" and "A Girl in Winter" - at the request of long-time associate, and Sky member, Kevin Peek.

Tarney's other production credits include the Hollies, Bow Wow Wow, the Dream Academy, Squeeze, Matthew Sweet, Voice of the Beehive and the Diana, Princess of Wales: Tribute album.

Personal life

Tarney lives in Richmond, London. He has a daughter, Mia, a professional artist painter; and a son, Oliver, who works in the film industry. [3]

Selected discography

With the Tarney/Spencer Band


  • 1974 "Something out of a dream.Musical Rock Show Joe Brown & Introducing Ray Hoskins as Sparrow producer Alan Tarney Brian Eno.Polydor MGM Curb
  • 1976 Tarney and Spencer (Bradley's)
  • 1978 Three's a Crowd (A&M)
  • 1979 Run for Your Life (A&M) [14]
  • UICY-90680: A&M 60s & 70s Single Box [Japanese Import] – features two tracks by the Tarney/Spencer band. 5-CD box set

CD reissues

  • 2003 Tarney and Spencer (Castle Communications plc), UK with four bonus tracks
  • 1993 Run for Your Life (Polydor), German. 1,500 copies
  • 19?? Three's a Crowd, Canada
  • 19?? Run for Your Life, Canada
  • 2009 Three's a Crowd (Tone Arm, Digipak), Sweden with four bonus tracks
  • 2009 Run for Your Life (TONE TA 0004, Digipak), Sweden with four bonus tracks


All chart placings refer to UK Singles Chart only unless indicated otherwise.


All chart placings refer to UK Singles Chart and UK Albums Chart only unless indicated otherwise.
Singles: [16] [17]


Studio session musician for:


  1. ^ a b "Alan Tarney (Biography) | MusicMinder". MusicMinder. 19 November 1945. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  2. ^ "Alan Tarney page". Retrieved 1 March 2009.
  3. ^ a b c "Alan Tarney Biography". Archived from the original on 21 June 2007. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
  4. ^ "Alan Tarney Discography at Discogs". Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  5. ^ "Tarney-Spencer group". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 January 2009.
  6. ^ "Cliff Richard chart discography with writer credits". Archived from the original on 5 October 2011. Retrieved 10 December 2008.
  7. ^ "Alan Tarney • Top Songs as Writer ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  8. ^ "Leo Sayer album". Archived from the original on 31 January 2009. Retrieved 21 January 2009.
  9. ^ "Barbara Dickson album credits". Archived from the original on 9 June 2009. Retrieved 1 March 2009.
  10. ^ "A-ha discography, Production credits". Retrieved 20 December 2008.
  11. ^ "Romance album credits". Archived from the original on 7 October 2008. Retrieved 1 March 2009.
  12. ^ "David Cassidy's UK Chart positions". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  13. ^ "David Cassidy's Germany Chart positions". GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 4 April 2015.[ dead link]
  14. ^ Tarney-Spencer Band. "Tarney-Spencer Band – Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  15. ^ "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - John Farnham". Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  16. ^ "Alan Tarney discography". Discogs. Retrieved 7 December 2008.
  17. ^ "UK Chart positions". Official Charts. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
  18. ^ "Alan Tarney write-up". Retrieved 5 January 2009.

External links