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Monday, September 15, 2008

Music News: Pink Floyd Keyboardist Rick Wright Playing The Great Gig in The Sky

Rick Wright, a founding member of British rock band Pink Floyd, died today of cancer. He was 65. Wright was a versatile and innovative keyboardist with an influence that ranged beyond Floyd's progressive rock into techno and electronica.

Wright co-wrote several Floyd songs including the classics "Us and Them" from 1973's Dark Side of the Moon and "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" from the 1975 Wish You Were Here album. He also wrote the stirring gospel tinged track "Great Gig in the Sky" on Dark Side. "Diamond" was a tribute to Pink Floyd's original leader Syd Barrett who left the group in the late 60s having spiraled ever downward into a debilitating mental illness. Barrett died in 2006.

Wright wasn't immune to the interband tension between Roger Waters and David Gilmour. After walking out of sessions for The Wall in 1979 he returned to play live shows on the subsequent tour as a session musician. He was re-instated as a fulltime Floyd member after Waters was kicked out of the band.

"The Great Gig in The Sky" live from 1973

"Us and Them" live from 1988 (a tour I saw them on)

"On the Run" live from 1973

"Shine On You Crazy Diamond" live from 1994

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