Gary Wright, the musician finest recognized for his hit singles “Dream Weaver” and “Love Is Alive,” has died. He was 80. Wright’s son Dorian confirmed the information to Variety; no reason behind demise was introduced.
He was a founding member of the U.Ok.-based band Spooky Tooth and was an in-demand session participant from the late ’60s on, enjoying on all of George Harrison’s solo albums — together with his epochal 1970 debut, “All Things Must Pass” — and on Ringo Starr’s early singles (and, a lot later, with Starr’s All-Starr Band) in addition to Nilsson, Tim Rose, B.B. King and plenty of others. Yet he shall be finest remembered for the mid-Nineteen Seventies hits talked about above, which have been a part of a vaguely mystical, synthesizer-driven model of hit single of the period — Steve Miller’s “Fly Like an Eagle” is one other instance — and which noticed him showing on many music exhibits, carrying satin gear and rocking a keytar.
A local of New Jersey, Wright was a baby actor who appeared on Broadway in a model of “Fanny.” He later determined to turn out to be a health care provider and traveled to Berlin to check drugs, however continued enjoying with bands, together with one referred to as the New York Times. While that group was on a 1967 tour of Europe with Traffic, Wright met Chris Blackwell, founding father of Traffic’s label, Island Records — the 2 additionally had a mutual buddy in Traffic/Rolling Stones producer Jimmy Miller — who was impressed with the younger musician’s expertise and satisfied him to return to London. There, Blackwell teamed him up with pianist Mike Harrison and drummer Mike Kellie and, with Wright as singer and organist, Spooky Tooth was shaped.
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 featured Wright cowriting every song, were not chart successes but created a major buzz in musicians’ circles. The members have been all recruited for session work and their songs have been lined by many artists, with the Three Dog Night rendering “I’ve Got Enough Heartache,” the Move performing “Sunshine Help Me” repeatedly and Judas Priest overlaying “Better by You, Better Than Me.” However, the group’s third album, “Ceremony,” was a inventive misstep and Wright left the band in 1970.
He signed with A&M Records and launched a robust solo album, “Extraction,” in 1970, and two gamers on that albums — drummer Alan White and bassist Klaus Voorman — introduced Wright into the Beatles’ orbit. While Harrison was recording “All Things Must Pass” with producer Phil Spector, the latter characteristically referred to as for extra musicians. Voorman advised Wright, who occurred to be enjoying a unique session throughout city — upon getting the decision, Wright canceled that session and dashed over to EMI’s storied Abbey Road studios, the place he started a friendship with Harrison that was to endure for the remainder of their lives. He performed on all of Harrison’s solo albums and a number of associated tasks, together with Ringo Starr’s early singles “It Don’t Come Easy” and “Back Off Boogaloo”; Harrison even backed Wright throughout an look on American TV’s “Dick Cavett Show” in 1971.
The following yr he reformed Spooky Tooth and launched two albums whereas persevering with to work with Harrison, with whom he shared an curiosity in Eastern religions; the 2 traveled to India collectively in 1974.
After the reformed group cut up once more, Wright relocated to New York and united with energy supervisor Dee Anthony (who managed Humble Pie and soon-to-be celebrity Peter Frampton) and signed with Warner Bros. Records. His first album for the label, “The Dream Weaver” — with a title observe impressed by his journey to India with Harrison — was launched in 1975, and whereas the only was a gradual builder, by the next spring it was a serious hit and Wright had turn out to be a serious star. However, it was practically two years earlier than he adopted with “The Light of Smiles,” and his subsequent efforts didn’t strategy his earlier success. His final charting single was 1981’s “Really Wanna Know You.”
In the next years, Wright specialised in instrumental and soundtrack work — though he made a shock look within the 1992 movie “Wayne’s World,” singing a re-recorded model of “Dream Weaver” — however he returned to extra typical rock music and issued a sequence of albums, with the final one, “Connected,” being launched in 2010. He reformed Spooky Tooth once more in 2004, and toured steadily, as a solo act and with Ringo’s All-Starr Band.
Over the years, his songs have continued to be lined — Chaka Khan recorded a blazing model of “Love Is Alive” for her 1984 smash album “I Feel for You” — and sampled by artists starting from Jay-Z to Tone-Loc.
Additional reporting by Michaela Zee.