Say It's Your Birthday: Pink Floyd's Rick Wright

No, that's not Rick Wright.

Rick Wright, keyboardist for the psychedelic turned

arena-rock band Pink Floyd, was born today in 1945. Formed in 1965, Pink Floyd

were one of the many acid-influenced psychedelic bands to come out of England

in the '60s. Led by Syd Barrett, the band, on albums such as The Piper at

the Gates of Dawn (1967) and Saucerful of Secrets (1968) carved out

a jazzy, acid-tinged niche. However, Barrett became one of rock's most infamous

acid-casualty, and in 1969, he left the band; guitarist David Gilmour, who had

joined the band in 1968, filled his role. Pink Floyd, which also contained

bassist (and lead songwriter) Roger Waters and drummer Nick Mason, became one

of the world's most popular bands seemingly overnight with the release of their

1973 album Dark Side of the Moon. The album, which contained the same

quasi-paranoid visions that had marked Waters previous work, was poppier and

more mainstream than any of their other works; it still holds the record for

the album that spent the longest time on Billboard's Top 100. Dark Side

also contained Floyd's first big hit with "Money," set to the ringing of cash

registers. Virtually all of Floyd's albums in the '70s were phenomenally

successful - 1975's Wish You Were Here, an ode to Barrett, 1977's

Animals, and especially the wildly ambitious double-album, 1979's The

Wall. The Wall, perhaps Floyd's best known album, was seen as a

semi-autobiographical work by Barrett, and, in typical Floyd style, it was

relentlessly bleak, filled with hints of schizophrenia of paranoia. The band

only performed a handful of concerts in support of the album because their

elaborate staging including the construction of a full brick-wall by the end of

show. Following the moderately successful A Collection of Dance Songs,

(1981) Wright called it quits. In 1983, after the release of The Final

Cut, the most pessimistic Floyd album to date (and that's saying a lot),

Waters left the band, and it seemed to mark the end of Pink Floyd. However, in

1987, with Gilmour now leading the band and Wright back on board, Pink Floyd

re-grouped, minus a very bitter Waters. Their 1987 album A Momentary Lapse

of Reason contained the trademark Floyd musical collages; however, without

Waters, the band lost its angry edge. Delicate Sound of Thunder (1988)

and The Division Bell (1994) followed this same pattern, and, in support

of The Division Bell, Pink Floyd embarked on a massive tour complete

with their infamous laser-light and complex arena shows. The concert album

which was released the following year Pulse (which contained a

humorously ridiculous flashing light on each CD - Pulse, get it...)

contained a full rendition of Dark Side of the Moon. Also born today:

Dr. Hook, née George Cummings (1938), folkie Jonathan Edwards (1946), Simon

Burke of Bad Company and Free (1949), and T. Rex's Steve Pergrine (1949).

--Seth Mnookin