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Richard Wright (1943-2008)

A sad day for music fans. Richard Wright keyboardist and founding member of The Pink Foyd (I always liked the “The” better) passed away today. I love his contributions to the early Pink Floyd era whether it was his own songs or his very melodic voice which brought a softer counter balance to the groups sound. He also wrote some great songs (“Paint Box”, “Remember A Day” and from Dark Side of the Moon “The Great Gig In The Sky”) that were a wonderful balance to Syd Barretts and Roger Waters edgier tunes. In fact Waters dominated the groups writing from 1975 onward so Wrights contributions were sorely missing from latter Pink Floyd albums. Although I always preferred Tony Banks as a progrock keyboardist, Rick Wright approached his playing in a unique way (influenced by Jazz) and without his textured keyboard, many Floyd epic songs like “Echoes”, simply would not have succeeded.

Added to this article some comments from pinkfloydonline.com

Statement from David Gilmour:

“No one can replace Richard Wright. He was my musical partner and my friend.

In the welter of arguments about who or what was Pink Floyd, Rick’s enormous input was frequently forgotten.

He was gentle, unassuming and private but his soulful voice and playing were vital, magical components of our most recognised Pink Floyd sound.

I have never played with anyone quite like him. The blend of his and my voices and our musical telepathy reached their first major flowering in 1971 on ‘Echoes’. In my view all the greatest PF moments are the ones where he is in full flow. After all, without ‘Us and Them’ and ‘The Great Gig In The Sky’, both of which he wrote, what would ‘The Dark Side Of The Moon’ have been? Without his quiet touch the Album ‘Wish You Were Here’ would not quite have worked.

In our middle years, for many reasons he lost his way for a while, but in the early Nineties, with ‘The Division Bell’, his vitality, spark and humour returned to him and then the audience reaction to his appearances on my tour in 2006 was hugely uplifting and it’s a mark of his modesty that those standing ovations came as a huge surprise to him, (though not to the rest of us).

Like Rick, I don’t find it easy to express my feelings in words, but I loved him and will miss him enormously.”

Source: DavidGilmour.com

Statement from Roger Waters:

“I was very sad to hear of Rick’s premature death, I knew he had been ill, but the end came suddenly and shockingly. My thoughts are with his family, particularly [his children] Jamie and Gala and their mum Juliet, who I knew very well in the old days, and always liked very much and greatly admired.

“As for the man and his work, it is hard to overstate the importance of his musical voice in the Pink Floyd of the ’60s and ’70s. The intriguing, jazz influenced, modulations and voicings so familiar in ‘Us and Them’ and ‘Great Gig in the Sky,’ which lent those compositions both their extraordinary humanity and their majesty, are omnipresent in all the collaborative work the four of us did in those times. Rick’s ear for harmonic progression was our bedrock.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity that Live 8 afforded me to engage with him and David [Gilmour] and Nick [Mason] that one last time. I wish there had been more.”

Source: Brain Damage

Interview with Nick Mason:

The day after Wright’s death, Entertainment Weekly talked to Floyd drummer Nick Mason about his colleague and friend of more than 40 years.

How important was Rick to Pink Floyd?
NICK MASON: The reality is, like any band, you can never quite quantify who does what. But Pink Floyd wouldn’t have been Pink Floyd if [we] hadn’t had Rick. I think there’s a feeling now — particularly after all the warfare that went on with Roger and David trying to make clear what their contribution was — that perhaps Rick rather got pushed into the background. Because the sound of Pink Floyd is more than the guitar, bass, and drum thing. Rick was the sound that knitted it all together.

That seems to have been particularly true in the band’s early, musically adventurous, days.
Yeah. He had a very special style. He probably did more than I did in terms of not worrying too much about tempo, to the point where eventually we did produce arrhythmic pieces. That was, I think, probably rather ground-breaking in 1967.

What was he like on a personal level?
[Laughs] he was very like…Rick! Really. He was by far the quietest of the band, right from day one. And, I think, probably harder to get to know than the rest of us. But after 40 years, we probably felt we did know him quite well. We were just beginning to make inroads, perhaps.

Would this be an example of the British stiff upper lip at work?
Well, we did talk to each other. But we spent an awful lot of time sort of teasing each other, really, and winding each other up. It’s that curious thing. You form a gang. And so, to the outside world, you mount a united front. But four guys in a car, you spend an awful lot of time arguing and bickering and not being very creative.

Do you have a particularly fond memory of Rick?
I have to say that I think a number of our memories have to do with the ways that we all dealt with money. The first meeting with Roger I wouldn’t lend him my car and Rick wouldn’t give him a cigarette. And really we just carried on exactly like that for the next 40 years.

And Roger’s been punishing you ever since.
Yeah, absolutely. But he’s beginning to get over it we think.

Can you remember the first time you met Rick?
Well, it was ’62 because we were all (studying) architecture together. He looked like an architect but he had no interest in architecture whatsoever, and within months, as far as I remember, he was off to music college, which is exactly where he should have gone in the first place.

What was he like back then?
Exactly the same. Of course, with the people you really know, no one changes that much. Roger was a rather sort of forbidding presence in 1962 and he hasn’t changed at all. He’s just got a bit more grizzled. And Rick was the quiet one then, as it was throughout.

He also wrote a fair amount of songs for the Floyd.
Something like “Us And Them” was absolutely a Rick piece. It’s almost that George Harrison thing. You sort of forget that they did a lot more than perhaps they’re given credit for.

Well, you have our condolences and sorry to bother you at a time like this.
No, it’s absolutely fine. I’d rather talk about him, I think, than not.

Source: Entertainment Weekly

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