The following is from contributing writer Jared Zeide.
A year ago this week music lost one of its great talents, Pink Floyd’s Richard Wright.
Like George Harrison, John Paul Jones, and Phil Lesh, Rick Wright is the unsung hero of his band. Because of this, one of rock’s greatest keyboardists, songwriters, and singers is not credited often enough for…being one of rock’s greatest keyboardists, songwriters, and singers.
The first person you will hear singing on Pink Floyd’s first song on their debut album is none other than Rick. The beautiful harmony you hear on Floyd’s masterpiece “Echoes” is Rick singing along with Dave Gilmour. The closing moments of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” are written by Rick, and he manages to take you somewhere you’ve never been before with his unique synthesizer notes.
Perhaps most importantly, half the songs written on The Dark Side of the Moon, one of the top-selling albums of all time, were co-written by Mr. Wright. He may only sing lead vocals on one song and have limited solos, but the ambiance and feel of the album is his doing more than anyone else. While Roger Waters provided brilliant and timeless lyrics, Rick gave them life and sound.
After the “Wish You Were Here album,” Rick’s songwriting with the band dwindled to nothing, and he released a solo album in 1978. He would not contribute a song or a lead vocal until 1994’s “Division Bell,” where he co-wrote five out of the eleven tracks. “Wearing the Inside Out” featured him singing lead vocals on a Floyd album for the first time in 21 years. It is one of the album’s best songs.
In 1996, he released another solo album called “Broken China.” I urge anyone who is a fan of Pink Floyd to purchase this album.
After performing on two of the tracks on Dave Gilmour’s 2006 solo album On An Island, Rick joined Gilmour for the tour. Although the ticket had Gilmour’s name, for all intents and purposes you were hearing half of Floyd, and Rick was the frontman on various songs. At the show I attended at Radio City Music Hall, he received a tremendously loud and enduring applause after his name was announced. I read that he received this ovation at all the shows.
It is an awful feeling knowing Pink Floyd will never again perform as a whole due to Rick losing his battle with cancer. We are lucky they reunited briefly in 2005 for the Live 8 show in London. We are even luckier that we don’t live in the time of Mozart or Beethoven where their music could not be recorded, and Rick Wright’s music can never die.
Below are some interesting lesser-known Floyd songs that Rick had a hand it composing – enjoy.
Remember a Day
Pan Am Shuffle