Whenever a band gains some measure of success, usually one or two members are chosen as the leaders or spokesmen of the band. The personalities of these leaders often overshadow their bandmates, which often leads to a band's breakup. Pink Floyd's leadership changed from Syd Barrett to Roger Waters and finally to David Gilmour, but always in the background, unassuming to a fault, was keyboard player Richard Wright.
Wright, who died of an undisclosed form of cancer earlier this year, hovered behind the stronger personalities but remained with the band from its inception in the late 60's until his death. (There was a brief interlude during one of Water's more ego driven phases shortly after the recording of The Wall.) Wright wrote a handful of tunes over the years - two of the best are "Summer ‘68" from Atom Heart Mother and "Wearing The Inside Out" from The Division Bell - but his main contribution to the band was through his sense of melody and atmosphere on keyboards. Floyd classics such as "Great Gig In The Sky" and "Us and Them" likely wouldn't have become classics without Wright's input and jazz-influenced improvisational skills.
While Syd was eventually consumed by his shadows and Roger and David struggled to keep those shadows at bay, Richard and drummer Nick Mason, attempted, on every Floyd album, to create a recognizable horizon line for the rest of us to enter into the Floydian world of shadows and light with a certain degree of familiarity and safety. That line may be redrawn by other musicians in time, but never with Wright's artistry. - Paul Hollingsworth