Remembering the man best known for his hit singles “Love Is Alive” and “Dream Weaver”
Gary Wright, best known as one of the pioneers of incorporating synthesizers into pop music with his 1975 hit “Dream Weaver,” has died at the age of 80.
Born in Creskill, NJ on April 26, 1943, Wright started out as a child actor who appeared on Broadway in a production of Fanny. He would move to Berlin, Germany in the mid-60s to study medicine and play in bands, namely the New York Times, who found themselves opening for Traffic on a 1967 European tour. It was during that time Wright would meet Island Records founder Chris Blackwell, who was so impressed with Wright’s musicianship he invited him to London. It was there that Blackwell would introduce him to pianist Mike Harrison and drummer Mike Kellie, thus forming the sensational psych rock act Spooky Tooth.
Wright co-wrote most of the songs on the band’s first two albums 1968’s It’s All About and 1969’s Spooky Two, including “Better by You, Better Than Me,” which would be covered by Judas Priest on their 1978 LP Stained Class. After leaving the Tooth in 1970, Wright went on to play keyboards on George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass as well as early solo singles by Ringo Starr in addition to notable recordings by B.B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis, Harry Nilsson and Ronnie Spector. Additionally, he rejoined Spooky Tooth in 1972 and would go on to record three more albums with them, including 1974’s The Mirror, which featured Foreigner’s Mick Jones–also formerly of Wright’s short-lived band Wonderwheel–on guitar.
His first two solo albums, 1970’s Extraction and 1971’s Footprint, are a pair of soft AOR gems on A&M Records that are worth seeking out if you are a vinyl hound. But it wasn’t until he signed with Warner Brothers and released The Dream Weaver did Wright take flight as a solo act. The album’s title track and the single “Love Is Alive” both peaked at no. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, the former enjoying further success in 1992 as part of the soundtrack to the 1992 SNL comedy feature Wayne’s World.
AUDIO: Gary Wright “Dream Weaver (Wayne’s World version)”
Wright would continue to work with Harrison throughout the ’70s, and again in 1987 on the Beatles guitarist’s Cloud Nine album. He would turn to more soundtrack-based work in the ’80s, his music appearing in such films as 1982’s Cobra and 1986’s Fire and Ice. He returned to more conventional rock and pop and would release four more albums throughout the next two decades, with the last one, Connected, being released in 2010. He reformed Spooky Tooth in 2004, and toured frequently, both as a solo act and as a valued member of Ringo’s All-Starr Band. His music can also be heard in hip-hop as well, with artists like Jay-Z, Tone-Loc, 3rd Bass, Nas and Company Flow.
According to TMZ, Wright had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and Lewy body dementia in recent years. His son Justin Wright revealed that the singer’s family and loved ones were with him at the time of his death.
- WATCH: Adam Birnbaum Digs Bach - September 26, 2023
- LISTEN: Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Shares New Song “Terror’s Pillow” (Live) - September 23, 2023
- LISTEN: Saruna are Seattle’s Latest Soul Purveyors - September 21, 2023