Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Obituary: Rick Wright

By Steve Dean

Richard William Wright, founder member of Pink Floyd, died yesterday after a short cancer-related illness. He was 65. Although not so much to the forefront as his colleagues Roger Waters, David Gilmour, and in the early days, Syd Barrett, he was an integral and vital part of the Pink Floyd sound. Only occasionally contributing to the songwriting, he was, however, responsible for the classics ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’ and 'Us and Them', amongst others. The son of a biochemist, he was educated at Haberdashers’ Aske’s school and Regent Street polytechnic, where he met bassist Roger Waters and drummer Nick Mason. Contributing mostly to backing vocals, he did take lead vocals occasionally and most notably on Barrett’s ‘Astronomy Domine’.

Temporarily leaving the band for six years after a big-time bust-up with Roger Waters during the making of ‘The Wall’, he played as a paid session man on the promotional tour for the album. Remarkably, he ended up being the only member, or rather ex-member, who made any money; the others having to bear the huge costs of the extravagant shows. He rejoined after Water’s departure in 1987. In the course of his career, he released the results of three solo projects: ‘Wet Dream’ in 1978; ‘Identity’ (with Dave Harris) in 1984 and ‘Broken China’ in 1996. He also played keyboards and sung background vocals on David Gilmour's most recent solo album, ‘On an Island’, and also performed with Gilmour's band for over two dozen shows in Europe and the United States in 2006. As a cornerstone of a unique band and a talented musician, he will be remembered for a very long time to come.

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