’70s rock star Gary Wright has died at the age of 80. TMZ reported the news after the singer’s son Justin Wright confirmed his father has passed away Monday morning (Sept. 4) at his Palos Verdes, California estate. Wright is best known for his ’70s hit “Dream Weaver.”
In addition to Justin Wright’s confirmation, fellow musician Stephen Bishop shared the news of Wright’s death on social media, commenting, “It is with great sadness that I received the news of my dear friend Gary Wright’s passing. The attached photos hold precious memories from the very first and last time we shared the stage together, alongside our mutual musical pal John Ford Coley. Gary’s vibrant personality and exceptional talent made every moment together truly enjoyable. His legacy will live on for many years to come. I will always cherish the warmth and kindness shown to me by Gary and his wife Rose, and I will forever hold dear the stories he shared with me about days gone by. My heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends, and fans during this difficult time.”
Per TMZ, Wright had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and Lewy body dementia in recent years. Justin Wright revealed that the singer’s family and loved ones were by his side at the time of his death.
Wright was born April 26, 1943 in Cresskill, New Jersey. He actually started in the entertainment industry as a child star, appearing at the age of 7 on Captain Video and His Video Rangers and later taping both TV and radio commercials before landing a role in the 1954 Broadway production of Fanny.
He studied piano and organ in high school, but decided that music was not a stable enough career and opted to study to become a doctor while attending college. But he never lost the love for music, continuing to perform in bands while getting his education. While in Europe, he decided to forego being doctor and pursue music, with his group at the time, The New York Times, getting a support slot opening for Traffic.
From there, Chris Blackwell introduced the singer to a group called Art, who eventually changed their name to Spooky Tooth upon Wright’s addition to the band. While a member of the band, he appeared on three albums as the group’s singer and keyboardist. They released a cover of The Band’s “The Weight” and the singles “Sunshine Help Me” and “Feelin’ Bad.” But by 1970, the group was considering a change in direction and Wright opted for a solo career.
He recorded 12 albums as a solo artist, with 1975’s Dream Weaver album being his biggest success, climbing to No. 7 on the Billboard 200 album chart and going on to a double-platinum certification in the U.S. In addition to the Dream Weaver title track that hit No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, Wright also scored a ’70s hit with “Love Is Alive,” which also hit No. 2. And, in 1981, “Really Wanna Know You” climbed to No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Wright also took a brief and notable detour from his solo career in the ’70s to work with George Harrison on Harrison’s 1970 album All Things Must Pass. Wright played keyboards on the record and then went on to play on all of Harrison’s ’70s albums as well as on hits for Ringo Starr and Ronnie Spector as well.
As the years passed, Wright started to get more involved with film work, having contributed the score to 1982’s Endangered Species and working on music for the films Fire and Ice and Cobra. The 2000s saw Wright tour with Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band and he also recorded a new age album in 2008.
Revisit some of Gary Wright’s musical works and see a few more tributes from his peers below. Our condolences to the Wright family.
Gary Wright, “Dream Weaver”
Gary Wright, “Love Is Alive”
Gary Wright, “Really Wanna Know You”
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