Band: Pink Floyd
Rick Wright died aged sixty-five at home in London from cancer on 15th September 2008, . At the time of his death, he had been working on a new solo album.
Ric Wright married his first wife, Juliette, in 1964. She had been a singer in one of the early bands that evolved into Pink Floyd. They had two children and divorced in 1982. His second marriage to Franka lasted between 1984 and 1994. Ric Wright married his third wife Mildred "Millie" Hobbs in 1995, with whom he had a son, Ben. Ric Wright's 1996 solo album Broken China is about her battle with depression. They separated in 2007. Ric Wright's daughter Gala married Pink Floyd touring bassist Guy Pratt.
Ric Wright had been fond of the Greek islands since a sabbatical visit in 1964, before Pink Floyd were formed. He moved to Greece in 1984 , briefly retiring from music, and enjoyed sailing and yachting. In his later years, Ric Wright lived in Le Rouret, France, and spent time on a yacht he owned in the Virgin Islands. He found sailing therapeutic, relieving him from the pressures of the music business. He was also a keen collector of Persian rugs.
Ric Wright, whose father was head biochemist at Unigate Dairies, grew up in Hatch End, Middlesex,U.K. and was educated at the Haberdashers' Aske's School. He taught himself to play guitar, trumpet and piano at age twelve after he was recuperating from breaking a leg. His mother helped and encouraged him to play the piano. He took private lessons in musical theory and composition at the Eric Gilder School of Music and became influenced by the trad jazz revival, learning the trombone and saxophone in addition to the piano. Uncertain about his future, he enrolled in 1962 at the Regent Street Polytechnic which was later incorporated into the University of Westminster. There he met fellow musicians Roger Waters and Nick Mason, and all three formed a band called Sigma 6.
Ric Wright's position in the band was tenuous to begin with, as he did not choose a definitive instrument, playing piano if a pub had one, otherwise settling on the trombone or rhythm guitar. He moved in with Waters and Mason to a house in Stanhope Gardens, Highgate, and they began serious rehearsals to become a professional group. Although Mason and Waters were competent students, Ric Wright found architecture of little interest and after only a year of study moved to the London College of Music. He took a break from studies and travelled to Greece for a sabbatical. Their landlord, Mike Leonard, purchased a Farfisa organ and briefly replaced Ric Wright in the band. However, the organ ultimately became Ric Wright's main instrument. Through a friend, he arranged the fledgling group's first recording session in a West Hampstead studio, just before Christmas 1964. Guitarists Bob Klose and Syd Barrett joined the band, which became Pink Floyd.
Pink Floyd had stabilised with a line-up of Barrett, Waters, Mason and Ric Wright by mid-1965, and after frequent gigging that year became regulars on the underground live circuit in London. While Barrett was the dominant member, writing most material, singing most lead vocals and playing lead guitar, Ric Wright played a supportive role, playing keyboards and singing, with occasional lead, and writing his own material. As the most qualified musician, Ric Wright was responsible for tuning guitars, and would often tune Waters' bass for him in concert. Later on, he had a Strobotuner to tune guitars silently during gigs. In the band's early days, before acquiring a full-time road crew, Ric Wright was responsible for unloading the gear at the end of each gig.
While not credited for vocals on the album 'The Piper at the Gates of Dawn', he sang lead on Barrett-penned songs such as "Astronomy Domine" and "Matilda Mother". Examples of his early compositions include "Remember a Day", "See-Saw", "Paint Box" and "It Would Be So Nice". Ric Wright was close friends with Syd Barrett, and at one point the pair shared a flat in Richmond. After Barrett left the group in 1968 owing to mental health issues, Ric Wright considered leaving and forming a group with him, but realised it would not have been practical.
Following Barrett's departure and replacement by David Gilmour, Ric Wright took over writing duties with Waters but gradually became less involved as a singer and songwriter as the band's career progressed. His organ playing remained an important part of the band's live set, including "Interstellar Overdrive", "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" and "Careful with That Axe, Eugene" and he contributed musical themes for film scores . He made significant contributions to Pink Floyd's long, epic compositions such as "Atom Heart Mother", "Echoes" (on which he harmonised with Gilmour for the lead vocals) and "Shine On You Crazy Diamond". On 1973's The Dark Side of the Moon he composed the music for "The Great Gig in the Sky" and "Us and Them". He also contributed to other album tracks such as "Breathe" and "Time", singing the lead vocals on the latter's chorus.
Ric Wright's contributions to the band diminished in the late 1970s as Waters began to write more material, with 'Animals' being the first album where he did not receive any songwriter credits. By the time the group was recording The Wall in 1979, Roger Waters had become frustrated that Ric Wright was not contributing enough yet still claiming an equal share of production royalties. Ric Wright refused to catch up on the recording backlog as his first marriage had deteriorated and he had not seen enough of his children, deciding family was more important.
Waters considered suing Ric Wright, but ultimately decided an easier thing to do would be for Ric Wright to leave the band at the end of the project. As the band was in financial trouble at the time, Ric Wright agreed. Waters, Gilmour, producer Bob Ezrin, composer Michael Kamen and session player Fred Mandel played keyboards on The Wall. Ric Wright was retained as a salaried session musician during concerts to promote that album in 1980–81, and became the only member of Pink Floyd to profit from the initial run of the costly Wall shows, since the net financial loss had to be borne by the remaining "full-time" members. Ric Wright did not attend the 1982 premiere of the film version of Pink Floyd—The Wall. In 1983, Pink Floyd released The Final Cut, the only album from the band on which Ric Wright does not appear. His absence from the credits was the first time fans realised he had left the group, which was officially confirmed some years later.
After Waters' departure in 1985, Ric Wright began to contribute to Pink Floyd again, beginning with sessions for A Momentary Lapse of Reason. However, he did not legally rejoin as an equal to Gilmour and Mason, and was a salaried musician for the resulting tour, as his contract said he could not rejoin as a full member. On the album credits, his name was listed after Mason and Gilmour and his photo did not appear on the cover.
By 1994, he had rejoined the group full-time. "I am a full member," he clarified in 2000, "but contractually I am not on a level par with Dave and Nick." He cowrote five songs and sang lead on "Wearing the Inside Out" for the next Floyd album, 'The Division Bell'. This was followed by the double live album and video release Pulse in 1995. Ric Wright, like Mason, performed on every Floyd tour.
On 2nd July 2005, Ric Wright, Gilmour and Mason were joined by Waters on stage for the first time since the Wall concerts for a short set at the Live 8 concert in London. This was the last time that all four post-Barrett Pink Floyd members performed together. Ric Wright underwent eye surgery for cataracts in November 2005, preventing him attending Floyd's induction to the UK Music Hall of Fame.
Ric Wright's last Floyd appearance, a posthumous one, was on 2014's The Endless River. The album contained mostly instrumental music recorded during the Division Bell sessions in 1993–94.
Ric Wright rarely played live outside of Pink Floyd compared to the other members. Along with Gilmour, he played in 1970 on Barrett's second solo album, Barrett, and helped with its production. He later recalled working on the album as a way of helping Barrett in any way possible. He guested at a concert by Sutherland Brothers & Quiver in 1974 at Newcastle Polytechnic.
Ric Wright recorded his first solo project, Wet Dream, in early 1978 in Super Bear Studios, France, which featured touring guitarist Snowy White and saxophonist Mel Collins. The album was released in September with minimal commercial success.
During 1984, Ric Wright formed a new musical duo called Zee with Dave Harris (from the band Fashion). The pair had been introduced by a mutual friend, saxophonist Raphael Ravenscroft. They signed a record deal with EMI Records and released only one album, Identity, which was a commercial and critical flop. Ric Wright later referred to Zee as "an experiment best forgotten".
In 1996, inspired by his successful input into The Division Bell, Ric Wright released his second solo album, Broken China, which had been co-written with lyricist Anthony Moore, who helped with production and engineering. The album covers the theme of depression and helped Ric Wright come to terms with seeing friends affected by it. Musical contributions came from Pino Palladino on bass, Manu Katché on drums, Dominic Miller and Tim Renwick, another Floyd associate, on electric guitar. Gilmour contributed a guitar part for "Breakthrough" but his performance didn't make the final mix of the album. Ric Wright considered taking the album on tour, but concluded it wouldn't be financially viable. Sinéad O'Connor sang lead vocal on two tracks, "Reaching for the Rail" and "Breakthrough", with Ric Wright covering the remainder.
In 1999, Pink Floyd touring keyboardist Jon Carin joined with Ric Wright's wife to bring Ric Wright and Waters back together after some 18 years apart; the two men met backstage after a tour date by Waters.
Ric Wright played at several of Gilmour's solo shows in 2002, contributing keyboards and vocals, including his own composition "Breakthrough". In 2006, he became a regular member of Gilmour's solo touring band along with former Floyd sidemen Jon Carin, Dick Parry and Guy Pratt. He contributed keyboards and background vocals to Gilmour's solo album, On an Island, and performed live in Europe and North America that year. On stage with Gilmour he played keyboards, including a revival of the Farfisa for performing "Echoes". Ric Wright sang lead on "Arnold Layne", which was released as a live single. He declined an offer to join Waters and Mason on The Dark Side of the Moon Live tour to spend more time working on a solo project.
In 2006, Ric Wright joined Gilmour and Mason for the official screening of the P•U•L•S•E DVD. Inevitably, Live 8 surfaced as a subject in an interview. When asked about performing again, Ric Wright replied he would be happy on stage anywhere. He explained that his plan was to "meander" along and play live whenever Gilmour required his services. The same year, he co-wrote the Helen Boulding B-side, "Hazel Eyes", with Chris Difford.
Ric Wright's final vocal performance took place at the Syd Barrett tribute concert "Madcap's Last Laugh" at The Barbican in London on 10th May 2007. It was organised by Joe Boyd in the memory of Barrett, who had died the previous July. The first half featured a Roger Waters solo performance, while the second half concluded with Ric Wright, alongside David Gilmour and Nick Mason, performing "Arnold Layne". His final live performance was as part of Gilmour's band at the premiere of Gilmour's concert DVD Remember That Night on 6th September 2007 at the Odeon Leicester Square, London. After an edited version of the film had been shown, the band took to the stage to jam.
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