15 September 2008

Remembering He Played

Pungenday, Bureaucracy 39, Year of Our Lady of Discord 3174

Sorry for not blogging in a while - I've been going through a bit of a rough patch the past week or so. I aim to be better soon and back to regular posting.

It has been officially announced that Rick Wright, keyboardist and singer, of Pink Floyd has passed away, due to cancer, at age 65. It comes as a shock to me, because I wasn't even aware he had been diagnosed with the disease. He was a co-founder of one of the most well-known rock bands ever...and one of the few bands from the nascent English 60s psychedelic scene to achieve international popularity and success. I am saddened by the loss of another of the original Floyds (Roger Keith "Syd" Barrett died a couple of years ago).

I'll post a proper tribute to the man when I'm feeling more up to the challenge...but for now, a few of his finer musical moments....

See Emily Play - The Floyd's second single from 1967 and partly written for their appearance at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in May of that year. Wright's Arabic-tinged organ solos were very much part of the early psychedelic Floyd sound.

Shine On You Crazy Diamond - Parts VIII & IX - The closer to the Wish You Were Here album, released in 1975. Rick's playing on this piece (which, in nine parts, opens and closes the record) is among his best. In part VIII, he shows a surprisingly funky side, while the last part just glides along on wistful and elegiac chords and melancholy trills. The playing at the fade has been my favourite Rick Wright solo ever since I first heard it.

Summer '68 - This one's on the Atom Heart Mother album, Floyd's first record after the Ummagumma double-set. This seems to me to be one Wright's best vocal performances. His mournful tone suits the verse lyrics about remembering an encounter with a groupie. It all goes a bit Turtles' Happy Together at the chorus, but still a great turn at the lead mic for Rick.

The Great Gig In The Sky - The man's supreme moment. Stealing a chord change from a Miles Davis album and featuring the powerful vocals of Clare Torry, "The Great Gig.." is poignant from start to finish and the perfect closer to Side 1 of the Floyd's greatest triumph in the studio, The Dark Side Of The Moon.


Anonymous said...

Lovely tribute. I couldn't believe the news when I heard. The unsung hero of Floyd. That chord change in 'Great Gig' is genius and at least he credited Bill Evans. A class act. RIP, Richard.

The Purple Gooroo said...

Cheers, Bear.

Definitely an unsung hero - especially on the early records, his distinctive keyboarding was as vital as Syd's guitar.

I always felt bad for him when I read about "The Wall" sessions. The way he was virtually pushed out the band he helped create (I suppose that happens quite a bit in 'the biz'). I suppose he got his own back when Gilmour asked him to play in the 80s/90s Floyd.

He seemed like a pretty humble and mellow bloke as well. He'll be missed.