Thursday, September 18, 2008

Richard Wright RIP

Jeez, you try and take a break around here and cultural personalities start dropping like flies.

Richard Wright, keyboardist and founding member of Pink Floyd, died of an undisclosed form of cancer Sept. 15th.

While Pink Floyd is largely identified with Dark Side of the Moon and the bloated, self-indulgent concept albums to follow the fact of the matter is The Pink Floyd began their existence as a psychedelic outfit that, by 1967, were the biggest band operating on the famed London Underground scene. Along with guitarist/vocalist Syd Barrett (RIP 2006), considered one of the most innovative British guitarists of the time, Wright contributed to the creation of a sound, despite widespread attempts at imitation, literally and utterly unlike any other. Take a listen to Piper at the Gates of Dawn or any early Floyd singles and tell me there’s anything out there that stand up to their twisted pop genius. Barrett may have been the driving creative force, but the sounds created on those early recordings and, by all reports, their shows during this period would not have been possible without Richard Wright. It’s impossible to say what would have happened had Barrett’s musical career not succumbed to mental illness and drug abuse, but I can say with certainty it wouldn’t have been the narcissistic sledgehammer that was The Wall.

Anyway, pretty much any fan of contemporary rock ‘n’ roll, especially fans of bands like The Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev, owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Richard Wright. Not to mention the bands themselves. The stuff he did before David Gilmoure replaced Syd Barrett in Pink Floyd is more than enough to make up for all the rest.

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