Outside in – the return of Richard Wright in Pink Floyd

Diskussionsinlägg hämtat från Neptune Pink Floyd Forum
jtull wrote:
When it comes to conflict between Roger and Rick kilometrs are written about that. But, it seems everyone forgets David treated Rick in much the same way during A Momentary Lapse of Reason(1987) period? David did not let Rick fully rejoin the band for A Momentary Lapse of Reason, nor the tour the following year. We all know this tour as The Delicate Sound of Thunder (1988). Finally, only in the middle of The Division Bell (1994), David got off of his high horse and let Rick rejoin the band. I’m not really sure why Dave was so hesitant?

Peter Harold wrote:

Well, not being an expert on this topic, but I think I can give you an explaination, and I think the information that Mrs Franka Wright provides very much goes in line what I suspected about this story. (Sorry for me spelling her name in-correct in previous post; I think she do look good for her etnic and age and life, etc, so there was no pun intended, although it looks like that).

Let us begin in 1978-1979. Mr Wright was already in this cocaine lifestyle, mostly during the holidays in Greece (He had like the other guys in the circle of the band taken drugs for recreational purpouse in Greece for ages). His solo record “Wet dreams” did not leave a huge mark in the British record history or the billboards, and at the same time it seems that making this record in 1978 had drained a lot of his creativity. The music Pink Floyd created had during some years been a joint band effort, but this tradition was gone under Mr Roger Waters’ lead. Remember that Mr Waters did prefer to bring in Mr Bob Ezrin to organize the work of the new Pink Floyd records, and Mr Waters trusted Mr Ezrin on writing/arranging music more than he trusted Mr Wright.

So Mr Wright had a list of personal problems, induced by drugs and women (remember that his song “Summer ’68” was about an relation with a groupie, and also the last song Mr Wright wrote and composed by himself), but also because of the band. By 1978-1979, Mr Wright had a noticable personality change, perhaps partly caused by the drug abuse/use, but surely because of being victim of the hard jokes by his bandmates, and the frequent attacks from Mr Waters about his persona. Mr Wright became introvert and was the first one to avoid his bandmates on a personal level.

Add to this that Pink Floyd after the success of DSOTM tried a life they were not fit for; being business men. I don’t know how much this affected them in 1974-1975 when recording of WYWH took place, but all money had to be invested. Some of the money went to equipment. They all bought new homes, but there was still more money coming in. Mr Nick Mason invested in collectors automobiles, creating his big garage. Mr David Gilmour invested, like the others, I think, at least like Mr Waters, in property and houses (one of Gilmour investments was sold to the late princess Diana’s brother some years ago, bringing a huge sum to wellfare through the organization Crises). I do think that Mr Wright consumed his money in drugs and sailing onboard his yacht “Gaia”, hopefully the latter as the most expensive part compared to the other not so healthy component.

Anyway, in 1976-1977 (with even more money coming in from the release of “Animals” and the “In the Flesh”-tour), the band realised they were bad business men, and they had to pay a lot in taxes. To avoid this, they invested in Norton Warburg, who escaped with the band’s and others people’s savings when it turned out that Andrew Wartburg’s company was a complete economical disaster. Pink Floyd was robbed!

I can’t imagine nothing about this would has passed without making the life inside and outside the band very stressful for everybody – managment and families included.

The only way out was a tax exile for the band, which separated them from the families for a year. In Mr Wrights case, we knew the split with Juliette was coming, although I think at this time, he already had his house in Provence were the family could assemble. I have an un-volontary inside source telling about big parties at that place (parties were no other member of Pink Floyd was invited). So the time when Pink Floyd was a musical joint venture was over, and Mr Wright was the one who had to suffer most. He was informed by Mr Water that no idea from Mr Wright was useful, and I fear that Mr Waters could have been right on this. If I recall it correctly, Mr Wright may have suggested some instrumental parts to mark endings and beginnings of the chapters in the story of “Bricks”, perhaps in the way he made “Broken China”, to help the record to not be filled with Mr Waters narrative only. Mr Gilmour did not support Mr Wright’s opinion, but he was lucky to have some leftovers from his own first soloalbum to complete “The Wall” with.

The reaction from Mr Wright was not helpful. When he lost the fight about musical content in the new project (a fight he must lose by deafult, because he had no new music!) against Mr Waters and Mr Ezrin (and Mr Gilmour often being absent in the studio until Mr Waters had left), he insisted on still having a role as a co-producer. That was him sitting in the studio or at the mixing desk watching Mr Ezrin doing the work. As Mr Wright wasn’t there for musical reasons (his idea was to be present to get credited for the production, which should give him more money), he was asked to leave by Mr Waters on demand by Mr Ezrin. And that was what happened.

From what I understand now, Mrs Juliette Wright wasn’t present (much) in France during the bands recording. We got the situation that EMI wanted the band to finish the recording for a release before Christmas 1979, and for that reason Mr Wright was asked to re-schedule his vacation (or as other had said, finish the vacation earlier to manage an extra session). From what I understand, Mr Wright saw that vacation maybe as a chance to save his marriage, or at least spend a last and good time with the family before “The Wall” had to be performed in Europe and US, and the coming divorce that surely would follow. Mr Wright said no to came to the studio on Mr Waters demand, giving an answer to the command with a not careful chosen message to the manager, Mr Steve O’Rouke: ” – Tell Rog to fuck off”!

I think that ruined the very rest of the partnership. Mr Waters told Mr Gilmour that he wanted to sack Mr Wright, and Mr Gilmour seemed to be fed up with everything and sarcasticaly said that Mr Waters could get rid of Mr Mason too, which we must see a mild objection against the idea to fire Mr Wright, because Mr Mason was in fact closer friend to Mr Water than to anybody else in the band.

There is a question about how much Mr Wright played on “The Wall”, and as far as I can see, it seems to me that he has been present on most of the tracks of the double album. But the band was not depending on Mr Wright as a muscian anymore. Both Mr Gilmour and Mr Ezrin had great ability as keyboard players, and both knew how to arrange that instrument in a melody. Anyhow, I think the band required an extra studio to speed up the recording, which would prove that Mr Wright showed up for the sessions anyway?

It was pretty clear that Mr Wright didn’t had any future in the band, and he much more prefer to stay in Greece. Although it wasn’t offcial, I am pretty sure he was forced out from Pink Floyd Music Ltd in time of the release of “The Wall”. If he wanted to stop that from happening, I am sure he could have rescued himself. But he must have been pleased to go, because just recieving the ordinary session fee for a musician during the concerts of “The Wall” should been too small money to be paid to him for him leaving the 5-part partnership of Pink Floyd, eventhough I guess they could vote him out. With a good lawyer and more fighter spirit, I think Mr Wright would had got better leaving terms than that, or actually saved his position in the band. Remember that either Mr Mason hadn’t contributed musically since his “Christmas song” in 1975-something, so lack of written music couldn’t justifie the sacking of Mr Wright.

Now follows the obscured chapter of Mr Wright’s life. In the chronology we only know that he was remarried to a woman in Greece, where he under some influence attacked the police because a friend was (according to him) wrongly put in arrest. Next thing was about him putting out a record with Mr Dave Harris under the brand ZEE (I have tried to get in touch with Mr Harris, but I don’t get any reply,a nd it is pretty common that people don’t anwer questions about Mr Wright). I think Mr Franka Wright have filled up with information with the interview in that English newspaper, and more may follow in her book.

What does we know beside this? Well, we know from one documented source that although Mr Wright is low-key in public, and he do like some good drinking. In the right company he also did drugs, and that is also confirmed by Ron Geesin. Geesin was supposed to do the arrangement of “The Amzing Pudding” together with Mr Wright, but the young musician turned up and wanted most to chat and smoke weed with Mr Geesin and his wife (I think Juliette may have been present too). Many years ago I was also informed that Mr Wright was a keen dancer, and he did bond with local musicians in Lindos. There must have been live music at his parties. So he sure knew how to party in the right company. I guess that any of the guests who was present there wouldn’t mind, or think it is odd, that a rich rock n’ roll-star sniffed a line of coke or got drunk. And so far, we only know about one episode when it run out of control, and that was the arrest of another party guests.

And now we near us to the question about Mr Gilmour’s relation to Mr Wright during the following years. Well, Mrs Franka Wright (who I know myself for a year is a hardcore devoted fan of Pink Floyd and her former husband) provide us with the information that her husband and Mr Gilmour did noticed each others presence in Lindos, but they didn’t want to speak to each other. What can we read from this?

My theory is that Mr Gilmour’s lack of support to Mr Wright is obvious, and this may be a reason why the keyboard player avoided any chance to meet the guitarist. And Mr Wright, being an adult, know himself that he blew his position in the band, and was perhaps ashamed about it. Knowing how difficult it is for Mr Gilmour to speak about his feelings, and also manage them, here we have two non-communicative blokes, perhaps both stubborn in their own ways, heading to their middle age and what they both suspect is the end of their careers. This must be around or after 1985, with ZEE going nowere, and “About Face” making a modest commercial success, both in sold records and tickets. Mr Wright has no solo career to entertain, and Mr Gilmour has realised that his name is not selling. But grudges was founded since long time ago, particulary by be-little Mr Wrights ability as a great composer and arranger during the bands early days (and even before that!), and publicly trashing the music he was responsible for before the success of DSOTM. In fact, Mr Wright had earned money as a composer before Pink Floyd became professional, and he could – at least before the drug abuse and the depressions put in – have became a successfull songwriter in (any) band outside Pink Floyd too (as in example the suggested band with Syd Barret after his departure from Pink Floyd). Mr Wright knew he was undervalued in Pink Floyd, and there was no love for him waiting in the band. Yet.

The person who made Pink Floyd to pick up from the ashes was not Mrs Franka Wright. What got the things to start was the Mason-Fenn album “Profiles” were Mr Gilmour had the lead vocals on one of the non-instrumental tracks. Both Mr Gilmour and Mr Mason was very happy being in the studio and working together on “Lie for a lie”, were Gilmour brought his best quality as a singer (and giving the hardcore Pink Floyd-fans a reason to buy the album) and acted in the music video that supported the single from that album.

I think it was during this time that Mr Gilmour and Mr Mason use to spend time together on mutual projects, as taking flying lessons and fullfill the dream of owning a veteran aircraft. Mr Mason said to Gilmour that he enjoyed working together with Mr Gilmour, and it seems that both of them realised that life in the studio was much more laidback when Mr Waters wasn’t present. As Mr Gilmour was planning for yet another solo album, he found that the best thing the two of them could do was recording together as Pink Floyd. This way was possible because their record company had threaten to sue Mr Waters if he blocked the band from continuing (this story is not widely told, but the record company wanted to push Mr Waters back in the studio to record yet another Pink Floyd album, perhaps the thing that was the base of “Back to the radio/Radio KAOS”, or to have him to leave the band; the outcome was the latter without any legal process).

One has to be aware that making a Pink Floyd record – at least in those days – was not a simple task. And it cost a lot. With money from the last Pink Floyd record and the second solo album, Mr Gilmour bought the Astoria houseboat in 1986 and converted it into a studio while he still was working on the demo recordings in his famous Hookend studio he had bought some years earlier from Alvin Lee. So there was a lot of money running away, and to pay all the sessions musicians, Mr Mason had to sell one of his sports cars.

There was sure a good portion of frustration for Mr Gilmour, because without Mr Waters, there was no dictator anymore who directed the work. And none to came up with the lyrics til next morning to whatever Mr Gilmour strummed out on his guitar. There was luckily a good teamship between Mr Gilmour and Mr Ezrin, but the music was not up to Pink Floyd standard. And Mr Gilmour realised that nor was Mr Mason up to his usual standard as a drum player. It had to be said that in this era, Mr Mason was perhaps not sure if he was a musician or a business man, trading aircrafts and vintage sport cars sometimes between Monday and Friday office hours. One thing was sure; it was needed to be a millionaire to run those expensive projects. And the last thing they needed was Mr Richard Wright to turn up.

It have already been known what happened, and the recent interview in the Daily’ with Mrs Franka Wright does confirm the story, and even gives the story more flesh. The talk about Gilmour-Mason being in the preparation of a new Pink Floyd record was known to Mr Wright. He had his own business in London too, but was reluctant to do any action to get in speaking terms with Mr Gilmour.

At this stage, he missed the touring and playing live with Pink Floyd (or any band, but his social character would not permit the latter). He knew that his ability as a composer was burnt, but he had all the time outside Pink Floyd played music when he wasn’t sailing. He was also a multi-instrumentalist, and entertained himself playing jazz on his piano or his saxophone. During those obscured years, he had time to play the music that was according to his own taste. What could he contribute to Pink Floyd now in 1986? Surely not much.

It is said that he woke up one morning, wondering about what he was doing, and calling Mr Gilmour and offering him his service, whenever the band wanted him. We now know, and understand this much better by the words by Mrs Franka Wright, how that more exactly did happen. It was her pushing her husband since two years back, when seeing how sad he was to not anymore do the thing he loved most (beside his love for her, I guess…), which was playing music and touring. And what has not been told; Mr Wright bought a new boat in 1986, the “Evrika”, which needed a skipper and a crew everytime Mr Wright wanted to sail, which he did freqently, with the original sails still on duty the year he died. (Mr Wright composed an instrumental to honour his boat; that tune became the song “Wearing the inside out” by Mr Anthony Moore).

To Mrs Franka Wright, it was obvious that her husband wouldn’t take that first step to contact his old band, and I believe her words when she says she was the one that phoned Mr Gilmour. Mr Wright was obvious not in shape for anything professional mentally. Mr Dave Harris and other has avoided to tell anything publicly about Mr Wright during this era, and it gives me the feeling that they – in good will – want to protect his tragic situation he had before he returned to Pink Floyd and became a star again.

What did change everything? Well, it was of good value that Mr Wright stated that he was willing to follow Mr Gilmour whenever he need his assistance. But Gilmour didn’t needed him at that time. Yet the situation would soon change. The sessions at Hooks End (Hooksend studio) showed that he had a promising partner in Jon Carin. Beside that, he had also rented two promient percussionists and drum players; Jim Keltner and Carmen Appice and the bass player Mr Tony Levin. The role of Mr Mason was more or less limited to make the sound effects and to instruct Mr Keltner and Mr Appice what kind of sound he and Mr Gilmour wanted. And Mr Ezrin was the most valued organizer of the whole project as Mr Gilmour found the burden too heavy, and distracted him from flying and driving racer cars with the manager O’Rouke. But then Mr Waters sent the message that he would sue the rest of Pink Floyd and any promoter of their forthcoming tour. The question of the legality of Gilmour-Mason using the name Pink Floyd was arised to a serious level now.

More than half of the AMLOR was recorded when Mr Gilmour decided to take Mr Wright onboard the project so he could use the keyboard player’s name on the insert of the album cover. This was in February of 1987, and Mr Wright got a weekly salary of USD 11’000 to stick some background layer with a Hammond B3 at the Mayfair studio. And he couldn’t had spent many weeks on that record; I suppose his work was done before the recordings moved to US with Mr Ezrin (and the bonus musicians) the very same month.

Both Mr Wright and Mr Mason kept the appearance when the tour was presented to come. AMLOR was in many ways a different album compared to any previous records by Pink Floyd, with a sound that was very much contemporary, but not that much futuristic as DSOTM or WYWH had been. But to keep a critical view on the record: it is still pretty fair to say that there was only three things that made this a real Pink Floyd-album. First: The guitar of David Gilmour. Second: The voice of David Gilmour. Third: The album cover by Storm Thorgerson and his team. But there was no distinct impression from of Mr Mason, nor Mr Wright.

Mr Gilmour openly said that both of his bandmates had been affected by the despotic Mr Waters, and this was the reason why Pink Floyd was backed up by an army of session musicians in the studio, and doubled on stage with Jon Carin and Gary Wallis. That statement could be true. But one had to add the fact that much of the music was programmed, as much as most of the contemporary pop and rock music in mid 1980 (a horrible era!!!). The question is, did Mr Gilmour made the music on AMLOR driven by sequencers because of the modern taste? Or was it needed because it would help the rusty bandmates keep the appearence onstage, being assisted by gizmos helping them play?

The shy and soft-spoken Mr Wright seems not to be disturbed by this situation of his victimization. But Mr Mason was less happier about his bandleader’s statement. Soon after a while there was no question that both of them were playing better than ever after some weeks into the tour, even on their own classics from the era when the band had four members. Life was fantastic, and Pink Floyd was bigger than ever!

Mr Wright was still credited as an additional musician on the live-album DSOT. But I do think he got full credintials on the “La Carrera Panamericana” 1991. Is that correct? At least, this is the first time he got any composer credits in a new Pink Floyd release since the WYWH-album. But it could be correct that the full membership happened in the mid of writing for TBS (The Bell Session). I actually think that Mr Wright threatend to quit the project if he wasn’t permitted the full partnership. And bringing Pink Floyd on tour without Mr Wright would be… pretty wrong.

It is true that Mr Wright was demanding. And I think it was fair by him to want a full partnership in the band because he was by now (1990-ies) a part of the creative force in the band. I know he was not delivering complete songs, and it is true that Mr Anthony Moore had yet again to assist the band to make the songs to full standard, as well as Mr Guy Pratt did more than he was credited for. So I don’t blame Mr Wright for not delivering complete songs, because the role of bringing lyrics in the good old days was the task of Mr Waters. And even before that, Mr Wright’s compositions were developed together with the other bandmates. That is why Pink Floyd was bigger than each member.

The new tour with Pink Floyd brought yet another sad chapter to the story for Mrs Franka Wright. But it also became a rare glimpse in the personal side of Mr Wright as the theme for his last solo album was around the situation for his then-girlfriend and mother of his third child. Mr Wright confessed after the release of “Broken China” that the concept was about his girlfriend Mildred Hobbes, the very one that Mrs Franka Wright found out wearing her husband’s child. The newly wedded couple moved to France, and from that time, we are yet again out of information how Mr Wright spent his time. I know only a few details, but it is too little for a biography. The only thing I am sure of is that there was less of sex and rock n’ roll, but sure Mr Wright held and watchfull eye on his and the family’s expenses…

Shine on,

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