Gary Wright, the musician best known for his hit singles “Dream Weaver” and “Love Is Alive,” has passed away. He was 80. Wright’s son Dorian confirmed the news Variety; no cause of death was disclosed.
He was a founding member of British band Spooky Tooth and was a member from 1967 to 1970, and was a much sought-after session player from the late 1960s. He played on most of George Harrison’s solo albums – including his seminal 1970 debut, “All Things Must Pass” – and on Ringo Starr’s early singles and, much later, with Starr’s All-Starr Band. Still, he’ll be best remembered for the mid-1970s hits mentioned above, which were part of a vaguely mystical, synthesizer-driven style of hit single of the era — Steve Miller’s “Fly Like an Eagle” is another example. – and in which he appears on many music shows, wearing satin gear and rocking a keytar.
Born in New Jersey, Wright was a child actor who appeared on Broadway in a version of “Fanny.” He later decided to become a doctor and traveled to Berlin to study medicine, but continued to play in bands, including that of the New York Times. While that group was touring Europe with Traffic in 1967, Wright met Chris Blackwell, founder of Traffic’s label Island Records – the two also had a mutual friend in Traffic/Rolling Stones producer Jimmy Miller – who was impressed with the talent of the young musician. and convinced him to come to London. There Blackwell teamed up with pianist Mike Harrison and drummer Mike Kellie and Spooky Tooth was formed with Wright as singer and organist.
The band’s first two albums, ‘It’s All About’ and 1969’s ‘Spooky Two’, ‘Spooky Two’, both of which were produced by Miller and with Wright co-writing each track, were not chart successes but created a major buzz among musicians. circles. The members were all recruited for session work and their songs were covered by many UK bands, with The Move regularly playing ‘Sunshine Help Me’ and Judas Priest covering ‘Better by You, Better Than Me’. However, the group’s third album, Ceremony, was a creative misstep and Wright left the band in 1970.
He signed with A&M Records and released a strong solo album, “Extraction,” in 1970, and two players on those albums—drummer Alan White and bassist Klaus Voorman—brought Wright into the Beatles’ orbit. While Harrison was recording “All Things Must Pass” with producer Phil Spector, the latter typically called in more musicians. Foreman suggested to Wright, who happened to be playing another session across town – when he got a call, he canceled that session and rushed to EMI’s legendary Abbey Road studios, where he struck up a friendship with Harrison that changed the rest of their lives would continue. lives. He played on all of Harrison’s solo albums and multiple related projects, including Ringo Starr’s early singles “It Don’t Come Easy” and “Back Off Boogaloo”; Harrison even supported Wright during an appearance on American TV’s “Dick Cavett Show” in 1971.
The following year, he reformed Spooky Tooth and released two albums, while continuing to work with Harrison, with whom he shared an interest in Eastern religions; the two traveled to India together in 1974.
After the reformed group broke up again, Wright moved to New York and reunited with power manager Dee Anthony (who managed Humble Pie and soon-to-be superstar Peter Frampton) and signed with Warner Bros. Records. records. His first album for the label, ‘The Dream Weaver’ – with a title track inspired by his trip to India with Harrison – was released in 1975, and although the single built slowly, it was a big hit the following spring and Wright was a big become a star. However, it took him almost two years to follow up with ‘The Light of Smiles’, and his ensuing efforts failed to match his earlier success. His last single was 1981’s ‘Really Wanna Know You’.
In the following years, Wright specialized in instrumental work and soundtrack work – although he made a surprise appearance in the 1992 film “Wayne’s World” in which he sang a re-recorded version of “Dream Weaver” – but he returned to more conventional rock music and released a series of albums, the last of which, ‘Connected’, was released in 2010. In 2004, he reformed Spooky Tooth again and toured regularly, as a solo act and with Ringo’s All-Starr Band.
His songs continue to be covered – Chaka Khan recorded a blazing version of “Love Is Alive” for her 1984 hit album “I Feel for You” – and sampled by artists ranging from Jay-Z to Tone-Loc.
Additional coverage by Michaela Zee.
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