Richard Wright, the keyboardist whose somber, monumental sounds were at the core of the art rock by Pink Floyd that has sold millions and millions of albums, died Monday in London, where he had lived. He was 65.I'll forego the divisions and recombinations of Pink Floyd, except to mention he was back in the band for the "Momentary Lapse of Reason" album and tour. I'd been a big fan for years and then I got a chance to work a part of the US part of that tour.
The cause was cancer, said his publicist, Claire Singers.
Wright was a founding member of Pink Floyd, and his spacious, enveloping keyboards, backing vocals and eerie effects were essential to its musical identity.
Wright was also sole songwriter on "The Great Gig in the Sky," a hymnlike track with a soaring, wordless female vocal at the center of "The Dark Side of the Moon," the 1973 Pink Floyd album that has sold some 40 million copies.
Before anyone gets excited I have to let you know I was about 6 companies away from working with Pink Floyd. I was just a freelance audio engineer and was hired by Stage Tech Personnel as an audio tech. I worked set-up and strike, but I was just an observer during the show. (Fun fact: that show took 5 days to stage and 3 to tear down. Two complete PA and light systems hopscotched each other around from venue to venue.)
My first show was in Tampa Stadium. After working the set-up I had the show off ... in the PA/video/lighting tower I'd helped to construct and wire ... listening to Pink Floyd play from the quad stacks I'd helped to set-up and wire. The show was awesome! The music, the engineering, the KEYBOARDS, the lighting, FX, were everything I'd ever imagined a live show could be. "When pigs fly" is a common way of saying that something is impossible. Pigs flew that night, literally.
Immediately after the show ended I was on the crew that took the stage first, (after PF's personal techs), and I still remember looking out from the stage at 80,000 people while coiling mic and monitor cables and thinking ... ... ... actually I wasn't thinking. I was coiling the cables by habit and just in awe that I was on the very stage that Pink Floyd had played on.
When I started this post it wasn't supposed to be about me, and it really isn't. It's about the how much Richard Wright has affected my life. From my teens thru adulthood and now into middle age I still listen to Pink Floyd, and my favorite albums are the ones he played on.
There are very few musicians I can say had an effect on my life, (my career, quite a few;-), but Richard Wright is one of them.
Thank you Richard. "The Great Gig in the Sky" has always been yours.
p.s. Richard, the guy playing trumpet with you with his back to the audience? Yeah, that's god, he thinks he's Miles.
Cross posted at VidiotSpeak