Shine On, Rick Wright

 

A tribute to the Pink
Floyd co-founder and keyboardist.

By Steven Ward

 

Founding Pink Floyd keyboardist Rick Wright is playing the
great gig in the sky right now.

 

Maybe Syd Barrett is watching from the wings of the stage.

 

Wright died at 65 earlier this week after fighting
cancer.

 

The two thoughts of prevailing wisdom when it comes to the
words and music of Pink Floyd are this: singer/bassist Roger Waters wrote the
words and singer/guitarist David Gilmour wrote the music.

 

That’s only half right.

 

After psychedelic pop genius and Floyd leader Barrett was
kicked out of the band in the late 60s, Waters did take over as band
wordsmith. Waters is now renowned as the lyrical conceptualist behind
“Dark Side of the Moon,” “Wish You Were Here,”
“Animals” and “The Wall.”

 

But if you liked the music, textures and aural soundscapes
of two particular Floyd records — “Dark Side of the Moon” and
“Wish You Were Here” — then Wright’s contributions were more than
crucial. They were the reason those songs are still played on classic rock
radio today.

 

Wright wrote the soaring and haunting Dark Side instrumental
“Great Gig in the Sky” where a gospely and ghostly female
voice is heard moaning and humming over ethereal and hymn-like grand chords.

 

The beautiful chord sequence that begat “Us and
Them” sprang from a Wright composition.

 

“The Wall” might have had a mighty concept
with a memorable story but the music on it sucked.

 

It’s the keyboard dramatics of “Dark Side of the
Moon” and “Wish You Were Here” that makes you want to put
on your headphones and slip away.

 

Yes — Wright lost interest in composing around the time of
“Animals” and “The Wall” and was more interested in sailing
around the Greek Isles as a millionaire tax exile. Waters kicked Wright
out of the band after he only contributed minor Hammond organ to the songs of “The
Wall.”

 

Not everyone has the stamina of a Waters or a Gilmour.

 

Still, Wright is worth celebrating.

 

I’m not sure the sale of headphones would have been the same
without him.       

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply