Singer and keyboardist Gary Wright, best known for his mid-’70s hits “Dream Weaver” and “Love is Alive,” reportedly died this morning at the age of 80.
Wright’s son Justin broke the news to TMZ, explaining that his father had been battling Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia in recent years.
Born on April 26, 1943 in Creeskill, New Jersey, Wright first rose to fame as a member of the British hard rock band Spooky Tooth. In 1970 he was invited to join a recording session for George Harrison‘s All Things Must Pass album. In his 2014 book Dream Weaver, Wright describes how a case of nerves nearly derailed the process.
How Gary Wright and George Harrison Became Lifelong Friends
“Producer Phil Spector’s voice rang out from the control room into the studio where all the musicians were: ‘Wait a minute, wait a minute; who’s that on the Wurlitzer piano making all those mistakes?’ Devastated and utterly embarrassed, I meekly raised my hand and said, ‘Sorry it’s me, Gary. I’m still learning the structure of the song.’ George immediately walked over to me and said consolingly, “Take all the time you need, we’re in no rush.” He was so kind at that moment; I immediately felt a rapport with him.”
Hear Gary Wright Perform ‘Love is Alive’
Wright wound up not only playing on the entire album but becoming lifelong friends with the former Beatle. After disbanding Spooky Tooth for a second time, Wright became a solo superstar with 1975’s double platinum The Dream Weaver. The album was notable for its near-total reliance on keyboards and synthesizers.
“I didn’t know it would take off as it did when I made it. The theme of having only keyboards, drums, voices – and no guitars — came accidentally,” Wright told Musoscribe in 2010. “I had just left Spooky Tooth, and I had a Minimoog, a Clavinet, a Fender Rhodes, a Hammond organ, and a little Rhythm Ace drum machine. And an Echoplex. So I used all that technology that was available back then in the writing of all the songs, with the exception of ‘Dream Weaver’ which I had written earlier on acoustic guitar.”
Although Wright never topped the success of The Dream Weaver, he remained active both as a solo star and with a reformed Spooky Tooth. He joined forces with another Beatles star as a member of Ringo Starr‘s All-Starr touring bands in 2008, 2010 and 2011.
Hear Gary Wright Perform ‘Dream Weaver’
In Memoriam: 2023 Deaths
A look at those we’ve lost.