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Richard Wright dies, Pink Floyd history, Pink Floyd band members
Associated Press

Richard Wright of Pink Floyd Dies at 65

September 15, 2008 06:08 PM
by Josh Katz
Richard Wright, one of the founders of the legendary rock group Pink Floyd, died Monday after a bout with cancer.

Wright Succumbs to Cancer

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Wright, who was suffering from cancer, died at his home in Britain, according to Pink Floyd spokesman Doug Wright, who is unrelated. Wright is perhaps most famous for his work on the keyboard, which he learned to play by himself, according to Bloomberg.com. But he also wrote and sang such acclaimed Pink Floyd songs as “Time” and “Echoes.”

On his blog, former band member David Gilmour expressed his remorse, “I really don’t know what to say other than that he was such a lovely, gentle, genuine man and will be missed terribly by so many who loved him.” Gilmour went on to say, “Did he not get the loudest, longest round of applause at the end of every show in 2006?”

Background: Wright’s music career

Wright, Roger Waters and Nick Mason teamed up in college to form the band Sigma 6. Syd Barrett, who left the group in 1968 because of drug problems and died in July 2006, joined the other three to create Pink Floyd in 1965. The group sprang onto London’s “psychedelic scene” in 1967 with their hit album “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” the Associated Press reports.   

Wright and Barrett were considered the groups “dominant musical force” in the beginning, according to the AP.

But as Roger Waters became more influential in the group, he and Wright began to move further apart. Acrimony between the two reached a peak when Waters requested that Wright leave the group during the formation of the album “The Wall.” Instead, Wright took the lesser position of session musician when they went on tour for “The Wall,” and did not perform on the 1983 album “The Final Cut.”

The group then split, and Wright teamed up with musician Dave Harris to launch the new band Zee. But Wright would rejoin Pink Floyd band members Mason and Gilmour after Waters left the group in 1985, working on the albums “The Division Bell” and “A Momentary Lapse of Reason.” The four would not unite again until the charity July 2005 Live 8 concert in London.

Wright had also released solo albums, “Wet Dream” in 1978 and “Broken China” in 1996.

Related Topic: Pink Floyd’s success

Pink Floyd was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. According to the Hall, “The group carried rock and roll into a dimension that was more cerebral and conceptual than what preceded it. What George Orwell and Ray Bradbury were to literature, Pink Floyd is to popular music, forging an unsettling but provocative combination of science fiction and social commentary.”    

Sales for “Dark Side of the Moon,” considered the band’s masterpiece album, have exceeded 40 million copies, according to the AP.

Personally, the musicians in Pink Floyd have differed from other rock stars, avoiding the public spotlight. “Throughout their history, the members of Pink Floyd have projected a rather static personal image, allowing music, lyrics, lighting and theatrical settings to communicate for them,” the Hall of Fame writes.

Wright possibly kept the lowest profile out of any band member, Bloomberg.com reports. In a Billboard magazine feature, Wright expressed that fact when commenting on the band’s extraordinary popularity: “Oh, God, I don’t understand it. All you writers need to talk about that. I know we’ve made some great songs and great music, but I can’t tell you why we’re so popular.”

Reference: Wright and Pink Floyd’s music

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