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Richard Wright (musician)

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Richard Wright (musician)

Richard Wright
Wright performing in Munich, Germany, on 29 July 2006
Background information
Birth name Richard William Wright
Also known as Rick Wright
Born (1943-07-28)28 July 1943
Hatch End, Middlesex, England
Origin London, England
Died 15 September 2008(2008-09-15) (aged 65)
London, England
Genres Progressive rock, psychedelic rock, experimental rock, electronic music, jazz, art rock
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist
Instruments Keyboards, vocals, vibraphone, xylophone, trombone, trumpet, guitar, bass guitar, percussion
Years active 1962–2008
Labels Capitol, Columbia, EMI, Harvest
Associated acts Pink Floyd, Zee, David Gilmour, The Screaming Abdabs (Sigma 6)

Richard William "Rick" Wright (28 July 1943 – 15 September 2008) was an English musician, composer, singer and songwriter, best known for his career with Pink Floyd.[1] A multi-instrumentalist, Wright's richly textured keyboard layers were a vital ingredient and a distinctive characteristic of Pink Floyd's sound. Wright frequently sang harmony and occasionally lead vocals on stage and in the studio with Pink Floyd (most notably on the songs "Time", "Echoes", "Us and Them", "Wearing the Inside Out", "Astronomy Domine", "Remember a Day" and "Matilda Mother").

Though not as prolific in songwriting as his band mates Roger Waters, Syd Barrett and David Gilmour, he wrote significant parts of the music for classic albums such as Pink Floyd's Meddle, The Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here, as well as for The Division Bell and the band's final studio album, The Endless River.

Early life

Wright, whose father was head biochemist at Unigate Dairies, grew up in Hatch End, North London and was educated at the Haberdashers' Aske's School.

Wright taught himself to play guitar, trumpet and piano at age 12,[2] and took private lessons in musical theory and composition at the Eric Gilder School of Music.[3] Uncertain about his future, he enrolled at Regent Street Polytechnic in 1962.[4] There he met fellow band members Roger Waters and Nick Mason, was a founding member of The Pink Floyd Sound (as they were then called) in 1965, and also participated in its previous incarnations, Sigma 6 and The (Screaming) Abdabs.[1][5] Although Mason and Waters were competent students, Wright found architecture of little interest and after only a year of study moved to the London College of Music.[2]

Pink Floyd 1967 - 1981

In the early days of Pink Floyd, Wright was a prominent musical force in the group (although Syd Barrett was the band’s chief songwriter and front man at the time). Wright wrote and sang several songs of his own during 1967–1968. While not credited for vocals on The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, he sang lead on Barrett-penned songs like "Astronomy Domine" and "Matilda Mother", as well as harmonies on "The Scarecrow" and "Chapter 24". Examples of his early compositions include "Remember a Day", "See-Saw", "Paint Box" and "It Would Be So Nice". As the sound and the goals of the band evolved, Wright became less interested in song writing and focused primarily on contributing his distinctive style to extended instrumental compositions such as "Cirrus Minor", "Interstellar Overdrive", "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun", "Careful with That Axe, Eugene", "One of These Days", "Dogs" and to musical themes for film scores (More, Zabriskie Point and Obscured by Clouds). He particularly made essential contributions to Pink Floyd's long, epic compositions such as "Atom Heart Mother", "Echoes" (on which he harmonized with Gilmour for the lead vocals) and "Shine On You Crazy Diamond". His most commercially popular compositions are "The Great Gig in the Sky" and "Us and Them" from 1973's The Dark Side of the Moon.[5] He also contributed significantly to other mid-period Floyd classics such as "Breathe" and "Time", singing the lead vocals on alternate verses of the latter with David Gilmour.

Wright recorded his first solo project, Wet Dream, which was released in September 1978 with minimal commercial success. Battling both personal problems and an increasingly rocky relationship with Roger Waters, he was forced to resign from Pink Floyd during The Wall sessions by Waters, who threatened to pull the plug on the album if Wright did not leave the band. He was retained as a salaried session musician during the live concerts to promote that album in 1980–81. Wright became the only member of Pink Floyd to profit from the initial run of the costly Wall shows, since the net financial loss had to be borne by the three remaining "full-time" members. Wright did not attend the 1982 premiere of the film version of Pink Floyd—The Wall. In 1983, Pink Floyd released The Final Cut, the only album from the band on which Wright does not appear.[1]

Later life

During 1984, Wright formed a new musical duo with Dave Harris (from the band Fashion) called Zee. They signed a record deal with EMI Records and released only one album, Identity, which was a commercial and critical flop.[1][5] Wright worked as a salaried musician alongside Pink Floyd, following Waters' departure. Because of legal and contractual issues from this "hired gun" status during The Wall world tour, his photo was not included in the 1987 album A Momentary Lapse of Reason and his name was listed in smaller letters than Mason and Gilmour. In 1994, by which time his reinstatement in the band had become official, he co-wrote five songs and sang lead vocals on one song ("Wearing the Inside Out") for the next Pink Floyd album, The Division Bell. This recording provided material for the double live album and video release Pulse in 1995. Wright, like Nick Mason, performed on every Pink Floyd tour.

Rick asked to be a part of A Momentary Lapse of Reason, and we talked and argued and negotiated again, and this time [The Division Bell] he's on a percentage of everything, not just the record. Last time Nick and myself had put up all the money and taken all the risks on everything, including the lawsuits with Roger. If you take all the risks, you expect to get more of the profits, quite simply. This is a wonderful artistic endeavour we've spent all our adult lives working on, but reality comes into it as well.

In 1996, inspired by his successful input into The Division Bell, Wright released his second solo album, Broken China, including contributions from Sinéad O'Connor on vocals, Pino Palladino on bass, Manu Katché on drums, Dominic Miller (known from his guitar work with Sting) and Tim Renwick, another Pink Floyd associate, on electric guitar. Broken China marked a new phase in Richard Wright's artistic development and playing style, with extensive use of computer-based recording and production techniques, assisted by Anthony Moore with whom he co-wrote the album's lyrics.[7]

On 2 July 2005, Wright, Gilmour and Mason were joined by Waters on stage for the first time since the Wall concerts for a short set at the Live 8 concert in London. This was the last time that all four (post-Barrett) Pink Floyd members performed together. Wright underwent eye surgery for cataracts in November 2005, preventing him from attending Pink Floyd's induction into the UK Music Hall of Fame.

In 1999, keyboard player Jon Carin joined with Wright's wife to bring Wright and Waters back together after some 18 years apart; the two men met backstage after a tour date by Waters.[8][9]

Wright contributed keyboards and background vocals to David Gilmour's solo album, Comfortably Numb", "Wearing the Inside Out", "Astronomy Domine" and "Arnold Layne" – the latter released as a live single). He declined an offer to join Roger Waters and Nick Mason on Waters' The Dark Side of the Moon Live tour in order to spend more time working on a solo project.

On 4 July 2006, Wright joined Gilmour and Mason for the official screening of the P•U•L•S•E DVD. Inevitably, Live 8 surfaced as a subject in an interview. When asked about performing again, Wright replied he would be happy on stage anywhere. He explained that his plan was to "meander" along and said about playing live:

...and whenever Dave wants me to play with him, I'm really happy to play with him. And [to Gilmour] you'll play with me, right?

Wright's final vocal performance took place at "The Madcap's Last Laugh" a tribute concert at Joe Boyd in the memory of Syd Barrett who had died the previous July. Boyd rounded up many musical guests all paying their tributes to Syd including Captain Sensible, Chrissie Hynde, Damon Albarn, Kevin Ayers, Kate McGarrigle with Martha Wainwright and Lily Lankin, Mike Heron, Nick Laird Clowes, Vashti Bunyan, Robyn Hitchcock and performing solo, Roger Waters.

Pink Floyd featuring David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Wright appeared at the end of the show as surprise guests where they performed the song that had started it all, "Arnold Layne", with Wright on lead vocals.

Wright's final live performance was as part of David Gilmour's band at the premiere of Gilmour's concert DVD Remember That Night. It took place on 6 September 2007 at the Odeon Leicester Square, London. After an edited version of the film had been shown, the band took to the stage to jam and Wright played keyboards.[10]

Wright appeared posthumously on Pink Floyd's album The Endless River.

Personal life

He married his first wife, Juliette Gale, in 1968. They had two children, Gala and Jamie, and divorced in 1982. He married his second wife Franka in 1984. They divorced in 1990. Wright married his third wife Mildred "Millie" Hobbs (to whom he dedicated his second solo album Broken China) in 1995, with whom he had a son, Ben. Their marriage ended in 2007. From 1984 to 1994 he lived on the island Kefalonia. In 1996, Wright's daughter Gala married Guy Pratt, a session musician who has played bass for Pink Floyd and bandmate David Gilmour since Roger Waters' exit.[11] In his later years, Wright lived in France and spent time on a yacht he owned in the Virgin Islands.[12]

Death

Wright died at home, of an undisclosed form of cancer, on 15 September 2008 at age 65.[5][13] At the time of his death, he had been working on a new solo album, which was thought to comprise a series of instrumental pieces.[14][15]

His death occurred one week before the release of David Gilmour's Live in Gdańsk, on which he appeared. On 6 July 2014, it was announced that a new album, The Endless River will be the first Pink Floyd album since 1994. The album, released in November 2014, is based on left-over material from the 1993-1994 The Division Bell sessions. Material performed by Wright appears on the album, on which he is credited to co-writing around two-thirds of the material.

David Gilmour published this tribute to Wright:

Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason told Entertainment Weekly:

Former bandmate Roger Waters' website was replaced with a photograph of an array of candles and poppies against a black background; one of the screen images used for the song "Wish You Were Here" in his "Dark Side of the Moon Live" Tour.[18]

Waters issued a statement:

On 23 September 2008, David Gilmour performed "Remember a Day", a Wright composition from Pink Floyd's second album, A Saucerful of Secrets (1968), on a live broadcast of Later... with Jools Holland on BBC Two as a tribute to Wright. In an interview later on in the show, Gilmour said that Wright had intended to perform with him that day, but that he had texted Gilmour a couple of weeks before his death to advise him that he would not be well enough to attend. This was the first live performance of the song by any member of the band.

On 15 September 2008, Elton John, while playing a concert in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan dedicated the song "Believe" to Wright who had died earlier that day.[20]

Influence

Wright's style fused Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun", the distinctive Minimoog solo in "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" and the Wurlitzer passages in "Money", "Time" and the Fender Rhodes riffs in "Sheep". In "A Saucerful of Secrets" and "Sysyphus" he experimented with 'treated piano'. "Sysyphus" also made extensive use of Mellotron sounds, something of a rarity in the Pink Floyd canon.

Equipment

In the early days of the band, Wright dabbled with [9] According to Seth Goldman, Rick tried ear moulds during the Division Bell tour, but "he didn't get on with them".[9] Throughout his career, Wright was also a proficient multi-instrumentalist. He also played violin, cello, bass, guitar, saxophone, and drums, amongst others.

Pink Floyd songs with Wright singing lead vocals

Discography

With Pink Floyd

See Pink Floyd discography

With Syd Barrett

Solo albums

Zee album

With David Gilmour

References

  1. ^ a b c d Erlewine, Stephen. "Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 16 September 2008. 
  2. ^ a b Mason 2005, pp. 20–21
  3. ^ Blake 2008, pp. 38–39
  4. ^ Mason 2005, pp. 11–12
  5. ^ a b c d Selva, Meera (15 September 2008). "Pink Floyd member Richard Wright dies age 65". Associated Press. Retrieved 15 September 2008. 
  6. ^ Fuller, Graham (July 1994). "The Color of Floyd". Interview Magazine, p. 20-21. Retrieved 22 July 2011. 
  7. ^ Broken China sleeve credits
  8. ^ Blake 2008, p. 354
  9. ^ a b c Cunningham, Mark (7 May 1997). "Welcome to the Machine - the story of Pink Floyd's live sound: part 3". Sound On Stage. Retrieved 2014-05-29. 
  10. ^ "Performance at Leicester Odeon for Remember That Night DVD Launch". Neptunepinkfloyd.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-06-30. 
  11. ^  
  12. ^ Youngs, Ian (2008-09-15). "Entertainment | Obituary: Pink Floyd's Richard Wright". BBC News. Retrieved 2014-06-30. 
  13. ^ "Floyd founder Wright dies at 65". BBC News Website (BBC). 15 September 2008. Retrieved 15 September 2008. 
  14. ^ Adam Sweeting. "Obituary: Richard Wright | Music". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-06-30. 
  15. ^ "Pink Floyd star leaves nothing in will to his three wives". Telegraph. Retrieved 2014-06-30. 
  16. ^ "The Voice and Guitar of Pink Floyd | Official Website". David Gilmour. Retrieved 2014-06-30. 
  17. ^ Franich, Darren (2008-09-18). "Pink Floyd's Nick Mason on former bandmate Richard Wright (R.I.P.) | PopWatch | EW.com". Popwatch.ew.com. Retrieved 2014-06-30. 
  18. ^ [1]
  19. ^ [2]
  20. ^ "SP review: Elton John wins over Saskatoon". Canada.com. 2008-09-16. Retrieved 2014-06-30. 
  21. ^  

External links

  • The Richard Wright Archives
  • Pink Floyd's official site
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