Pink Floyd's Nick Mason on former bandmate Richard Wright (R.I.P.)

Pinkfloyd_2Although he tended to be overshadowed by bandmates Dave Gilmour and Roger Waters, Pink Floyd keyboardist Richard Wright, who died on Monday following a battle with cancer, was a vital part of the group’s sonic explorations. He also co-wrote several of the Floyd’s strongest songs, including “Us and Them,” from 1973’s Dark Side of the Moon. The day after Wright’s death, EW talked to Floyd drummer Nick Mason about his colleague and friend of more than 40 years.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How important was Rick to Pink Floyd?
NICK MASON: The reality is, like any band, you can never quite quantify who does what. But Pink Floyd wouldn’t have been Pink Floyd if [we] hadn’t had Rick. I think there’s a feeling now — particularly after all the warfare that went on with Roger and David trying to make clear what their contribution was — that perhaps Rick rather got pushed into the background. Because the sound of Pink Floyd is more than the guitar, bass, and drum thing. Rick was the sound that knitted it all together.

More on Wright’s musical style, and what he was like on a personal level, after the jump…

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That seems to have been particularly true in the band’s early, musically adventurous, days.
Yeah. He had a very special style. He probably did more than I did in terms of notworrying too much about tempo, to the point where eventually we didproduce arrhythmic pieces. That was, I think, probably rathergroundbreaking in 1967.

What was he like on a personal level?
[Laughs] hewas very like…Rick! Really. He was by far the quietest of the band,right from day one. And, I think, probably harder to get to know thanthe rest of us. But after 40 years, we probably felt we did know himquite well. We were just beginning to make inroads, perhaps.

Would this be an example of the British stiff upper lip at work?
Well,we did talk to each other. But we spent an awful lot of time sort ofteasing each other, really, and winding each other up. It’s thatcurious thing. You form a gang. And so, to the outside world, you mounta united front. But four guys in a car, you spend an awful lot of timearguing and bickering and not being very creative.

Do you have a particularly fond memory of Rick?
I have tosay that I think a number of our memories have to do with the ways thatwe all dealt with money. The first meeting with Roger I wouldn’t lendhim my car and Rick wouldn’t give him a cigarette. And really we justcarried on exactly like that for the next 40 years.

And Roger’s been punishing you ever since.

Yeah, absolutely. But he’s beginning to get over it, we think.

Can you remember the first time you met Rick?
Well, it was’62 because we were all [studying] architecture together. He lookedlike an architect, but he had no interest in architecture whatsoever,and within months, as far as I remember, he was off to music college,which is exactly where he should have gone in the first place.

What was he like back then?
Exactly the same. Of course,with the people you really know, no one changes that much. Roger was arather sort of forbidding presence in 1962, and he hasn’t changed atall. He’s just got a bit more grizzled. And Rick was the quiet onethen, as it was throughout.

He also wrote a fair amount of songs for the Floyd.
Somethinglike "Us and Them" was absolutely a Rick piece. It’s almost that GeorgeHarrison thing. You sort of forget that they did a lot more thanperhaps they’re given credit for.

Well, you have our condolences, and sorry to bother you at a time like this.
No, it’s absolutely fine. I’d rather talk about him, I think, than not.

For more on Richard Wright and Pink Floyd, check out our remembrance of Wright, coverage of Roger Waters at Coachella this past spring, a review of Saucerful of Secrets: The Pink Floyd Odyssey and of the 1995 music documentary Pulse.


Comments (24 total) Add your comment
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  • Kathleen

    Thank you so much for posting this. Rick Wright was always the Floyd member that I looked up to most. News of his death really hit me hard, harder than I ever thought I would be affected by someone I never really knew.

  • Anonymous

    A GREAT LOST TO ALL FLOYD FANS SO SAD I NEVER GOT TO SEE HIM PERFORMING LIVE IN SOUTH AFRICA

  • Anonymous

    LEONARD-CAPE TOWN,SOUTH AFRICA.
    See you on the dark side of the moon

  • nick

    rick was a true british rock star gentleman. he added greatly to my formative years, along with the other ‘floyds’, and he is already missed. the great gig in the sky awaits!

  • keith byrne

    so sad to here one off the greatest keyboard player’s has left us,such is life,respect to roger and his family for all the great time’s he gave us through his music,god be good to his family, k

  • veronica

    R.I.P Mr.Wright your sound will be missed ive been listening to your music since monday my condolinces to the wright family i wish you all the best.

  • vikash

    Wright may be the quietest member of z band but was at the heart of the sonic background of the atmospheric floyd’s music. My condoleances to his family.. A living dinosaur has left us but his unequalled inspiring contribution would always pervade.

  • chris

    glad to see Mr. Mason said a few words, i know us fans will miss Mr. Wright in our own way, so thank you Rick for the beauty you brought to the musical spectrum and hope you are enjoying your great gig in the sky!

  • KG Kumar

    Rick inspired my son to take up the keyboard, and Pink Floyd were the beacons of my generation…In whichever music hall you now are, Richard, may you always be surrounded by the notes of passion, daring and hopefulness that you bequeathed all of us…
    kg

  • Ferguson in Texas, USA

    I’m happy to hear Nick Mason’s reaction to Wright’s passing.
    I wonder what Roger Waters’ reaction to this is now, however.
    RIP Wright One

  • Eric Friedmann

    Pink Floyd is still my favorite rock band. I’ve been listening to nothing but them all week.

  • Mr. Dave

    Sad day it is. Pink Floyd has had an incredible effect on the music of our lives and I was always praying they’d reunite for more albums. – true Floyd fan!!

  • Anonymous

    I totally thought this article was going to be about the author of Native Son and Black Boy. Oops.

  • Noel Falzon

    Thank you Rick, for the great 40 years you gave us.Those of us floydians with floyd blood know what impact Rick did withen floyd. Thank you for “Us and Them” it will be great forever. God bless You. Noel(Malta)

  • Tom Ashby

    Tom Ashby Mon, Sep 22, 2008 at 01:57 PM EST
    My first exposure to Floyd was at 15 and Ummagumma. They instantly grew on me in 1970. 3 years later it was the Dark side of the Moon concert in Detroit MI at Cobo Hall. It was a knock out concert that I think was their best ever. They blew up the stage somewhat with a couple canon fireworks halfway into the concert. They had to halt the concert because some amps were knocked over in the blast. Everyone was just STUNNED and STONED. Probably all 20,000 or whatever the seating was there.
    Anyway, Richard Wrights keys were the grounding and mesh that made Floyd. Very unmistakable and so very musical. Long after we are gone, Floyd and Wright will be still rocking the people in some medium.

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