Visionary songwriter, performer and all-around musical pioneer Gary Wright has spent more than thirty years shattering conventional ideas about how to make chart-topping rock music. Not only have his classic songs “Dream Weaver”, “Love is Alive” and “Really Wanna Know You” proven their genius by achieving hit status in three different decades; Wright’s musical wizardry has also extended, more than once, to changing the very sound and texture of contemporary pop.
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As far back as the late 70’s Wright was challenging audiences with pioneering instrumentation and cutting-edge keyboard technology. He blazed another trail as one of the first artists to season classic, progressive rock ‘n’ roll with fresh rhythms and tonalities borrowed from India, Africa and South America. And he has been a longtime collaborator and creative influence to fellow artists ranging from his contemporaries George Harrison, Steve Winwood, Mick Jones (of Foreigner) and Joe Cocker -- to 90’s “rap” artists Third Base, Ton Loc, and Busta Rhymes as well as Salt-N-Pepa, Joan Osborne, Anastacia and Mya.
It was in 1967, after earning a degree in psychology and then touring Germany as a singer/songwriter, that Wright met Island Records founder Chris Blackwell and moved to London, where he formed the rock group, “Spooky Tooth.” That year Island released the group’s first record, “It’s All About,” which immediately won critical acclaim and launched the group on a successful career that included sellout U.S. tours with rock legends Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones, and culminated in the band’s classic second album, “Spooky Two.”
In the early 1970’s Wright took a brief hiatus from Spooky Tooth to produce records, and to play keyboards on George Harrison’s classic “All Things Must Pass,” which also featured Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Phil Collins and other greats. Thus began a continuing musical relationship with Harrison that embraced playing as well as co-writing several songs on George’s subsequent albums.
Together with Harrison, Wright visited India in 1972 as a guest of Ravi Shankar. He began cultivating long term relationships with Shankar as well as some of India’s other leading classical artists. (This musical cross-fertilization would continue to enrich Wright’s life and work, and would ultimately blossom in his award-winning 1988 album “Who I Am,” on Cypress Records, that used an all-star cast of musicians including a South Indian percussion section and performances by classical Indian masters Lakshmi Shankar and L. Subramanian.)
After two critically praised albums on A&M Records, and three more with a revived Spooky Tooth including Mick Jones, Gary signed a solo deal with Warner Bros. Records in 1974. His ground-breaking 1975 release “The Dream Weaver” stretched the pop music envelope by featuring the first-ever all keyboard/synthesizer band, and by pioneering technologies in cut down versions of synthesizers and drum machines that revolutionized the musical instrument business and changed the sound of pop, rock and r&b forever.
In 1976 the song “Dream Weaver” hit #1 in the charts, and its follow-up release “Love is Alive” climbed to #2. In all, “The Dream Weaver” resulted in sales of over 2 million albums and 2 million singles. In a business where even the biggest success is often written in the wind, the popular appeal of Wright’s songwriting genius has endured. In 1991 Warner Bros. Records asked Gary to remake “Dream Weaver” for the “Wayne’s World” movie soundtrack -- which went on to become Billboard’s #1 soundtrack album, selling over 2 million copies. “Dream Weaver’’ was also featured in the Golden Globe winner ‘’The people vs Larry Flynt.’’ The 1990’s also brought a successful cover of “Love is Alive” by Joe Cocker, a Top 40 hit dance version of the same song by female vocal group Third Party, and a successful dance music cover of “Dream Weaver” by vocalist Erin Hamilton. The year 2001 brought 2 more new versions of “Love is Alive”—one by Anastacia, whose International sales topped 3.5 million—the other by Joan Osborne whose version became the first single for the Michael Douglas/Matt Dylan film “One Night at McCool’s.” DG Armand Van Helden also sampled one of Gary’s songs “Comin” Apart” and renamed it “mymymy. ” The track became a huge hit in Europe and Asia selling 3.8 million copies. In addition, several well known “rap” artists, including Eminem, Third Base, Ton Loc, Salt-N-Pepa, Busta Rhymes and Mya have used samples of Gary’s music on their records.
Gary Wright’s creative output as both a composer and performer has been steadily innovative and prolific for the length of his successful career. It has extended to film scoring, with music for the Alan Rudolph thriller “Endangered Species,” the Sylvester Stallone-directed “Stayin’ Alive,” the Oscar-winning German film “Fire and Ice,” and the 2000 Imax release “Ski to the Max” —both directed by Willie Bogner. It has included Gary’s 1995 world music album, “First Signs of Life,” which incorporated music and percussion from Brazil and Nigeria, and featured guest appearances by George Harrison and Terry Bozzio. And it continues with his current solo effort “Human Love,” a studio album on which Gary is joined by guest artists Jeff Lynne , L. Shankar, Steve Farris. The year 2007 will usher in the release of a live Spooky Tooth DVD featuring 3 of the original members, Mike Harrison, Mike Kellie and Gary titled “Nomad Poets.”
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