Alan Tarney (born 19 November 1945) is an English songwriter, record producer and bass guitarist. He was born in Workington, Cumberland, England, but spent his teenage years in Adelaide, Australia, where he met his songwriting and musical partner Trevor Spencer.
Tarney was part of the influx of British migrants who settled in Adelaide during the height of 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; 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.
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 back 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 a session musicians and songwriters, recording and writing for many top UK acts including Cliff Richard and Olivia Newton-John. Around this time Tarney also joined The Shadows and was a member from 1973 to 1977. In 1975 he was one half of Tarney/Spencer Band along with Trevor Spencer. 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.
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". 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".
Tarney went on to bigger success in the mid-1980s when he teamed up with Norwegian group A-ha. Producing the second version (after Tony Mansfield) of their first single "Take On Me", the song became a worldwide hit and he went on to produce the group's first three albums. He also produced David Cassidy's comeback 1985 album Romance, which included the top ten hit "The Last Kiss". He returned again to write and produce for the Cliff Richard albums Always Guaranteed (1987) and Stronger (1989).
Tarney's other production credits include Bow Wow Wow, The Moody Blues, The Dream Academy's "Life In A Northern Town", Squeeze, Matthew Sweet, Voice of the Beehive, the Diana, Princess of Wales: Tribute album and Pulp's hit single "Disco 2000".
Tarney currently lives in Richmond, London. He has a daughter, Mia, a professional artist painter and a son, Oliver, who works in the music industry.