Sad news for anyone awaiting a Pink Floyd reunion: Richard Wright, the band’s organist and one of its founding members, died today of cancer. He was 65.
Wright was the linchpin of the Floyd sound. That lush organ, with its beastly Leslies and bent-pitch contortions, preserved and broadened the breathless psychedelia that Syd Barrett had championed before his doomstruck descent into the rabbit hole—and beginning with Meddle, Wright led the great backbeat (spare drums, bass in the pocket, organ washes countering funk with fizz) that anchored all extended Floyd jams until The Final Cut (the only album on which he doesn’t play a note). Plus, the guy could sing. That nice high harmony on “Echoes”? That’s him.
Wright’s songwriting never got the credit it deserved, either from the masses or from Roger Waters, who eventually edged him out. The AP’s obfuscation of Wright’s writing credits is indicative of the backseat history has allotted him:
The band released a series of commercially and critically successful albums including 1973’s “Dark Side of the Moon,” which has sold more than 40 million copies. Wright wrote “The Great Gig In The Sky” and “Us And Them” for that album, and later worked on the group’s epic compositions such as “Atom Heart Mother,” “Echoes” and “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.”
As many of the 40 million folks who’ve purchased Dark Side (not to mention the red-eyed hordes who’ve downloaded it illegally) can tell you, Atom Heart Mother dropped in 1970, and Meddle (on which “Echoes” debuted) in 1971—both of ’em well before Dark Side.
“Shine On” appeared on 1975’s Wish You Were Here.
Below, a clip of Richard recording piano lines to “Us and Them.” Wisecracks courtesy of Nick Mason.