Gary Wright, a spiritually minded singer-songwriter who helped modernize the sound of pop music along with his pioneering use of synthesizers whereas crafting infectious and seemingly inescapable hits of the Nineteen Seventies, notably “Dream Weaver” and “Love Is Alive,” died on Monday at his house in Palos Verdes Estates, Calif. He was 80.
The trigger was issues of Parkinson’s illness and Lewy physique dementia, his son Justin stated.
The New Jersey-bred Mr. Wright rose to prominence within the late Nineteen Sixties after relocating to London and serving to to kind the bluesy British progressive rock band Spooky Tooth.
He quickly befriended George Harrison, with whom he would collaborate ceaselessly over time, together with enjoying keyboards on that former Beatle’s magnum opus triple album, “All Issues Should Cross,” launched in 1970.
Their lengthy friendship would have a long-lasting influence on each Mr. Wright’s life and his music. Mr. Harrison launched him to Jap mysticism, giving him a duplicate of “Autobiography of a Yogi,” by Paramahansa Yogananda, who helped popularize yoga and meditation in the USA. Mr. Harrison traveled with him to India.
“That was his life path after that,” Justin Wright stated in a cellphone interview. “Deep down inside him, he was trying to find one thing, and this was the reply for him.”
His non secular awakening helped spawn “Dream Weaver,” a observe from his 1975 album, “The Dream Weaver,” which hit No. 7 on the Billboard album chart and rocketed Mr. Wright to fame. The music was impressed by the yogi’s poem “God, God, God,” which incorporates the road “My thoughts weaves goals.”
Mr. Wright begins the music with the lyrics “I’ve simply closed my eyes once more/Climbed aboard the dream weaver practice/Driver take away my worries of immediately/And go away tomorrow behind.”
“Dream Weaver,” swept alongside by a wave of lush electronica that bordered on the interstellar, soared to No. 2 on the Billboard single chart in March 1976. The music turned a soft-rock touchstone, showing in such motion pictures as “Wayne’s World” (1992) and “The Individuals vs. Larry Flynt” (1996), in addition to on a 2010 episode (referred to as “Dream On”) of the musical comedy-drama TV collection “Glee.”
It was not the one smash hit from that album. That July “Love Is Alive,” like “Dream Weaver,” rose to No. 2, conjuring the languid sexuality of the waterbed period. Mr. Wright carried out at stadium reveals on the identical invoice as heavyweights like Peter Frampton and Sure, standing out among the many guitar gods along with his strap-on keyboard often known as a keytar.
Whereas his greatest hits turned emblematic sounds of the Nineteen Seventies, Mr. Wright had taken an unconventional musical strategy on the album “The Dream Weaver.” He relied nearly fully on keyboard devices, together with a Minimoog synthesizer, versus guitars, foreshadowing the synth-pop growth of the early ’80s.
“The theme of getting solely keyboards, drums, voices — and no guitars — got here by chance,” Mr. Wright stated in a 2010 interview with Musoscribe, a music web site. When he went again and listened to the demos he had recorded, he stated, “I believed, ‘Wow. This sounds good. It doesn’t really want guitars.’”
Gary Malcolm Wright was born on April 26, 1943, in Cresskill, in northeast New Jersey. He was the center of three kids of Lou and Anne (Belvedere) Wright. His father was a structural engineer.
Gary’s mom helped instill in him an curiosity in music and appearing, driving him to piano classes and finally to auditions. Their efforts paid off when he made an look on the seminal science fiction TV collection “Captain Video and His Video Rangers” and later gained a job within the 1954 Broadway musical “Fanny,” starring Florence Henderson.
“I initially got here into the play as an understudy to the principle position, after which I picked up the most important youngster position,” Mr. Wright stated in a 2014 interview with Smashing Interviews journal. “I used to be solely 11 and 12 throughout these years. It was a tremendous expertise to behave and sing each evening earlier than sold-out audiences and sing with a full orchestral band.”
Inside a couple of years, he deserted the stage and display screen “to be a traditional type of particular person in class, enjoying sports activities and Little League baseball and that type of factor,” he instructed Smashing Interviews. Whereas attending Tenafly Excessive Faculty, he performed in varied rock teams, together with a duo referred to as Gary and Billy along with his college good friend Invoice Markle. Their single “Working After Faculty” was performed on the Dick Clark tv present “American Bandstand.”
After highschool, Mr. Wright attended William & Mary in Virginia for a yr earlier than transferring to New York College, the place he switched his focus to drugs. After graduating in 1965, he briefly enrolled in medical college earlier than shifting to Berlin to review psychology.
Shedding curiosity in a life in scientific apply, he went again to music, serving to to kind a band that constructed a following in Europe; at one level it opened for the rock group Visitors in Oslo. There he caught the eye of Chris Blackwell, the founding father of Island Data. Mr. Blackwell summoned him to England to hitch a band referred to as Artwork, which advanced into Spooky Tooth.
Spooky Tooth briefly disbanded in 1970, and a yr later Mr. Wright launched his first solo album, “Footprint.” That album featured Mr. Harrison on guitar on the observe “Two Confronted Man,” which the 2 carried out with Mr. Wright’s band Wonderwheel on “The Dick Cavett Present” in 1971.
Along with his son Justin, Mr. Wright is survived by his spouse, Rose (Anthony) Wright; one other son, Dorian; a sister, Lorna Lee; and two grandchildren. His marriages to Christina Uppstrom, the mom of his sons, and Dori Accordino led to divorce.
Within the Musoscribe interview, he mentioned his 2010 launch, “Linked,” and the album’s hook-laden opening observe, “Happy,” in phrases that would have utilized to “Dream Weaver.”
“The phrase ‘hook’ means drawing individuals into one thing,” he stated. “Once I write songs, I at all times attempt to make them that approach — catchy — so that folks will bear in mind them. They’ll be extra embedded in individuals’s consciousness.”