Richard Wright – a gentle soul gone too soon

Pink Floyd co-founder, composer, keyboardist, and vocalist Richard Wright was born this day 76 years ago. Richard can be found on every Pink Floyd album (with the exception of the Final Cut) and every tour. 

Wright began his musical career at the age of 12 when he taught himself to play guitar, trumpet, and piano upon breaking his leg. In his teenage years, he also picked up the trombone and saxophone while taking music lessons. At the age of 19, Rick was unsure about his future, thus he enrolled in architecture at Regent Street Polytechnic, where he met future band members Roger Waters and Nick Mason. 

It took Wright a few years to settle on a definite instrument, as he typically played rhythm guitar or trombone, and if it was available at a venue, piano. After feeling dissatisfied with architecture, Wright transferred to the study of music, where before starting he took a trip to Greece. His landlord purchased a farfisa organ and temporary replaced Rick, and upon return, he found his permanent instrument, the organ.

Being well connected, Rick was able to find the band a recording studio to lay down some tracks, where the band was joined by Bob Klose and Syd Barrett. At this point, the band was known officially as The Tea Set, and soon The Pink Floyd. The result of this recording session was “1965: Their First Recordings”, which was officially released in 2015.

In the early years of Pink Floyd, Wright contributed greatly to lead vocals (Matilda Mother, Astronomy Domaine, Let There Be More Light, etc) and composition (See Saw, Remember a Day, Summer ‘68, Stay, Great Gig in the Sky, Us and Them, Shine On You Crazy Diamond etc). Although Richards contributions declined as the years progressed, he was an integral part of the bands overall sound, notably with many keyboards such as acoustic and electric piano, organ, mellotron, synthesizer, and clavinet. 

By 1977, Richard no longer contributed to writing music, causing tension within the band, particularly with de-facto band leader Roger Waters. Wright was fired from the band during the production of The Wall, as Richard decided that his family was more important that the band. Years later, Richard said that he was quite depressed at the time, a theme that would be seen conceptually on his 1996 solo album Broken China. This was Richards second solo album, which if you have not checked either out, please check them out as you get a more intimate sound from Richard.

Wright did not officially rejoin the band as an official member until 1994’s The Division Bell, although appearing as a session musician on 1987’s A Momentary Lapse of Reason. Wright co-wrote five songs on The Division Bell, as well as lead vocals on “Wearing the Inside Out”. Mason, Gilmour, and Wright can be heard in full force throughout the album, most notably on my favorite track “Marooned”.

Wright appeared posthumously on 2014’s The Endless River, a tribute to him, where he appeared as a writer on over half the albums music. Autumn ’68 featured Wright on the organ , which has recorded at the Royal Albert Hall in 1968. This song title was a reference to 1970’s “Summer ’68”, an overlooked and underrated Wright composition from Atom Heart Mother. Check it out if you haven’t yet!

Wright and Water appeared for the first time on stage together since over 20 years at Live 8 in 2005, which was the last time the full classic lineup of Water/Mason/Gilmour/Wright would appear together. This was a sign that after all the tough years together, there was no hard feelings between Richard and Roger. The reunion marked a truly unique and touching moment for Pink Floyd fans worldwide.

Wright was taken from us in 2008 after a long battle with cancer. At the time he was working on an instrumental album. Rogers said in a statement after Wright’s death: “it is hard to overstate the importance of his musical voice in the Pink Floyd of the ’60s and ’70s” and was happy that they had managed to reunite for Live 8” 

Wright will be remembered as a gentle soul, often compared to the George Harrison as the “quiet one” in the band. His memory will permanently live on in all the brilliant music he has appeared in over the years. Join us in remembering Richard on what would be his 76th birthday.

What is your favorite musical moment from Richard? Please share your stories of Richard here 🙂

Prog on!

Written by Nik MacDonald

Published by Prog Rock Review

Nik is a musician and music journalist. He serves at founder and editor of Prog Rock Review, a community-based platform highlighting progressive rock, old and new. Dominic Sanderson is the chief writer for Prog Rock Review. He is currently studying music and literature in university, and has a huge passion for prog. He loves composing and performing, with his main instruments being the guitar and vocals. He also enjoys writing music reviews and is working on building a portfolio of written work on the music of various prog bands.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: