September 17, 2008

Founder Member of Legendary Band Pink Floyd

Richard Wright, a founder member of legendary band Pink Floyd, has died at the age of 65 after battling against cancer, said his spokesman yesterday.

Mr Wright played the keyboards with the band and wrote music on classic albums like Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here.

His spokesman said: "The family of Richard Wright, founder member of Pink Floyd, announce with great sadness that Richard died today after a short struggle with cancer. The family have asked that their privacy is respected at this difficult time."

The self-taught keyboardist and pianist met fellow band members Roger Waters and Nick Mason while at architecture school.

He was a founder member of The Pink Floyd Sound in 1965, and the group's previous incarnations, such as Sigma 6.

In the early days of Pink Floyd, Mr Wright, along with Syd Barrett, was seen as the group's dominant musical force.

The London-born musician and son of a biochemist wrote and sang several songs of his own.

The Great Gig in the Sky, and Us And Them, both from 1973's seminal Dark Side of the Moon album, were his most well-known compositions.

He also made essential contributions to Atom Heart Mother, Echoes and Shine On You Crazy Diamond, the tribute to Syd Barrett.

Mr Wright recorded his first solo project, Wet Dream, in 1978. When his relationship with Roger Waters became increasingly difficult, he left Floyd after sessions for the album The Wall.

Last night, Pink Floyd songwriter, vocalist and guitarist David Gilmour said: "No-one can replace Richard Wright. He was my musical partner and my friend.

"In the welter of arguments about who or what was Pink Floyd, Rick's enormous input was frequently forgotten.

"He was gentle, unassuming and private but his soulful voice and playing were vital, magical components of our most-recognised Pink Floyd sound.

"I have never played with anyone quite like him. The blend of his and my voices and our musical telepathy reached their first major flowering in 1971 on Echoes. In my view, all the greatest PF moments are the ones where he is in full flow.

"After all, without Us and Them and The Great Gig in the Sky, both of which he wrote, what would The Dark Side of the Moon have been? Without his quiet touch, the Album Wish You Were Here would not quite have worked.

"In our middle years, for many reasons he lost his way for a while, but in the early 90s, with The Division Bell, his vitality, spark and humour returned to him and then the audience reaction to his appearances on my tour in 2006 was hugely uplifting and it's a mark of his modesty that those standing ovations came as a huge surprise to him (though not to the rest of us).

"Like Rick, I don't find it easy to express my feelings in words, but I loved him and will miss him enormously."

Mr Wright had mastered the trombone, saxophone, guitar and piano in his teenage years. He had wanted to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Miles Davis and John Coltrane when he was persuaded to study architecture at Regent Street Polytechnic.

While studying architecture, he took private lessons in musical theory and composition. He left the polytechnic at the end of his first year, travelled and then enrolled at the Royal College of Music to re-join Mason and Waters, whose band had just added Syd Barrett to become the Tea Set.

He contributed vocals and keyboards to David Gilmour's 2006 solo album On An Island, while performing with his touring band in shows in Europe and the US.

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