Whoa, how did I miss this? Rick Wright, the keyboard maestro and co-founding member of Pink Floyd, died on September 15.
Like many others, I immediately thought of “Great Gig in the Sky” (the title so painfully appropriate now). Obviously a meditation on death, it features some of his most impressive work on the keys, and the vocals still give me goosebumps.
News of Wright’s death kicks up all sorts of personal history—the death of those we so strongly admired in our youth always does.
Pink Floyd was the very first band I was “in to”, thanks to the influence of my older brother. Memories of riding shotgun with him on some errand or another, him blasting Floyd from the stereo. In 4th grade, me with Brian Axel (God, I still remember that kid’s name!) on the playground, listening to The Wall over and over on a crappy tape recorder while other kids were playing dodgeball, kill-the-man or nerf football. I was definitely one quirky 9-year old…
That obsession later grew into a deep appreciation (and *cough* experimentation) of their other albums, from Syd Barrett-era psychedelia to the morose machinery of the Roger Waters regime. Rick Wright was always there, adding a touch of melancholy, of humanity and I might suggest, spiritualism to the music. “Great Gig in the Sky” is a perfect example, as is “Eclipse”, the near-religious, ecstatic conclusion to Dark Side. His best can be heard throughout Wish You Were Here, too.
Farewell, Rick. Thank you.
(Nod to, of all things, A Lego A Day for the tribute I found that alerted me to Wright’s passing.)