Rick Wright, 1943–2008


Rick Wright in 1971.

As has been noted nearly everywhere by now, Pink Floyd keyboardist Rick Wright went to the Great Gig in the Sky earlier this week, and I’m sure the inevitability of using the title of his most famous composition in this way wouldn’t have surprised him. I may as well note here that he was always credited as Rick on the albums following Piper at the Gates of Dawn, not Richard. I saw Pink Floyd perform The Wall in the cavernous bounds of Earl’s Court, London in August 1980 so I suppose I can claim to have seen him play, if watching a speck on a distant stage counts as seeing anyone. Wright’s falling out with the increasingly fractious Roger Waters saw him treated as a session musician by that point and while the show was impressively bombastic I can’t bear to hear that dreary and hysterical album any more. (Unless it’s Scissor Sisters covering Comfortably Numb.) Far better to remember Wright for his psychedelic songs such as Remember A Day from A Saucerful of Secrets.

Update: Thom reminds me that French musician Hector Zazou also died earlier this month.

7 thoughts on “Rick Wright, 1943–2008”

  1. I get the advantage of being able to say I saw the Dark Side of the Moon tour. I may have been 5 at the time, but the light and stage-show made an impression on my young mind – although I can’t remember the music.

    Too many teenage sessions listening to friends play ‘The Wall’ mean I’ve not listened to it since the 80s, but I recently bought ‘Meddle’ to listen to ‘Echoes’ again, which pretty much owes it’s reputation to Wright.

    It’s sobering to think how much one of the least-credited members of the group really defined the sound people loved.

  2. Hi Jules. I like all the albums up to and including Wish You Were Here although Dark Side… is one of those I’ve heard far too much in the past. And I always liked the Meddle period a lot. The wind sounds and Dave Gilmour’s shrieking guitar-birds in the middle of Echoes still make me think of The Dunwich Horror.

    There’s a great bootleg called Meddled which turns up now and then featuring a studio session they did for John Peel. Excellent sound quality and similar to the Pompeii recording only with an audience.

  3. On a somewhat related note, composer/producer Hector Zazou passed away last week. He did some really cool stuff, and we actually corresponded for a bit. So it goes…

  4. Damn, thanks for the reminder. I did read about that then somehow managed to forget about it. Been far too busy recently…. The bizarre thing is I have at least three of his CDs. I really like Sahara Blue and the Cold Seas one. In fact this reminds me to put Sahara Blue into iTunes. Thanks Thom.

  5. John:

    There was a musical group, there was a genious (Syd Barrett) who couldn’t stand his own self, so he falled out. There was a mediocre bass player and an even more mediocre drummer. There was a competent (but extremely narrowheaded!) guitarist. And then there was Richard Wright.
    Always the forgotten one, always hidden behind his beyboards, always trampled by Waters and the others, never seeking popularity. But what would have been of the Pink Floyd without Wright’s arrangements? Every time I see ‘Live at Pompeii’ I become more convinced that his role within the group was much more important than the neurotic Waters would have courage enough to admit.
    I was in the Lan House last Monday when I saw the news of his death. I’ve sobbed loudly and I’m not ashamed of it. Man, if I never thought much of the Pink Floyd as a group, I’ve always thought of Rick Wright as a luminous keyboardist, arranger and composer. Man, am I gonna’ miss him!
    R.I.P. Rick.

  6. I think the value of Wright’s contribution to the band is evident after Wish You Were Here where the band becomes Roger Waters+others, Wright gets marginalised and the music suffers accordingly.

    That aside, I don’t envy anyone trying to create in the typical band situation. Everyone starts out with the best of intentions but even stable personalities seem to have trouble sustaining the interest and commitment beyond more than a few years.

  7. aside from the obvious inner turmoil of the floyd, the equality or importance of what each member contributed isn’t decided by them. it’s decided by us, and the moments, we the listeners, cherish. the floyd were an absolutely wondrous event, and have given me so much pause, so much soundscape for reflection and contemplation, so many incredible associations, with the soundscapes they created. personally, i’m a huge fan of the 1969 to 1972 period, up to and including Dark Side. i have a very magical bootleg, from san diego in 1971, that is perhaps the most indispensable thing i own, musically, of any genre or era. rick wright seemed to be a very genuine and humble character, and an absolutely integral member of the Floyd. his moods and shadings, his atmospherics and inventiveness made all the other elements of the Floyd come together. having lost one of the original 5, the glorious Pink Floyd is no longer, regardless of what form or shape the remaining members choose to pursue with the legendary name. rest in peace, dear richard.

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