Richard Wright helped shape the sound of the 1970s as one of the founding members of Pink Floyd. We remember Wright’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
Richard Wright helped shape the sound of the 1970s as one of the founding members of Pink Floyd. Playing keyboards and singing, including lead vocals on occasional songs including “Time,” Wright was an integral part of the band for most of the group’s history, only leaving for a few years in the late 1970s and early ’80s. He wrote or co-wrote well-known songs including “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” “The Great Gig in the Sky,” and “Us and Them.” We remember Wright’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2017: Harry Dean Stanton, the prolific character actor who starred in HBO’s “Big Love” and the cult classic movie “Repo Man,” dies at 91.
2013: Jackie Lomax, English guitarist and singer-songwriter who had a solo album released on the Beatles’ Apple Records label in 1969 that was produced by George Harrison and features musical contributions by Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and Eric Clapton, dies of cancer at 69.
Lomax was signed to the Beatles’ Apple label in the 1960s. He had known the band members since their early days at Liverpool’s Cavern Club, when he was a member of the Undertakers, one of the most popular bands on the thriving Liverpool music scene. “He was a great rocker, a solid out-and-out rock and roller,” said Tony Bramwell, the former publicist for the Beatles’ Apple Records, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. “They were one of the great groups in Liverpool in the early ’60s. They did a great version of ‘Mashed Potatoes.'” Read more
2012: James “Sugar Boy” Crawford, rhythm and blues musician who wrote the song “Jock-A-Mo,” which was recreated as “Iko Iko,” becoming a hit song for the Dixie Cups, dies at 77.
2011: Frances Bay, Canadian actress who appeared in the “Seinfeld” episode “The Rye” as the old woman from whom Jerry Seinfeld steals a loaf of marble rye, dies of pneumonia complications at 92.
After working as a radio actress before World War II, Bay married and became a housewife. She returned to acting in the 1970s and her career took off, according to her obituary by The Associated Press. Bay played Fonzie’s Grandma Nussbaum on “Happy Days” and kindly older ladies in shows like “The Jeffersons,” “The Dukes of Hazzard,” and “Who’s the Boss?” The Canadian-born actress also was cast by director David Lynch in several films, including “Blue Velvet” and “Wild at Heart.” Read more
2010: Arrow, Montserratian musician who was a superstar of soca music and wrote and performed the international hit song “Hot, Hot, Hot,” which was later covered by David Johansen, dies of complications of brain cancer at 60.
2008: Richard Wright, English musician, composer, and songwriter known best as a member of Pink Floyd, dies of cancer at 65.
Wright was one of the band’s most important contributors. One of Pink Floyd’s founders, “his spacious, somber, enveloping keyboards, backing vocals, and eerie effects were an essential part of (the band’s) musical identity,” The New York Times noted in his obituary. “He was an integral part of the band, but often underrated,” music critic and editor Mark Blake said in an interview with Legacy.com. “He was the only formally trained musician in the group. I think this was a great strength, especially in the band’s early years with vocalist/guitarist Syd Barrett. Wright brought a lot of melody and structure to their sound.” Read more
2007: Brett Somers, U.S. actress known best as a regular panelist on the game show “Match Game” and for her recurring role as Blanche Madison on “The Odd Couple” opposite her real-life husband, Jack Klugman, dies of stomach and colon cancer at 83.
2006: Pablo Santos, Mexican actor who starred on the television series “Greetings From Tucson,” dies in the crash of a private plane at 19.
Clad in leather jackets and long black mops of hair, the group started out in legendary New York clubs like CBGB and Max’s Kansas City, where they blasted their rapid-fire songs. Since its debut album in 1976, the band struggled for commercial success, but they left a formidable imprint on the rock genre. Though they never had a Top 40 song, the Ramones influenced scores of followers, including bands such as Green Day and Nirvana. Even Bruce Springsteen was moved. After seeing the Ramones in Asbury Park, New Jersey, Springsteen wrote “Hungry Heart” for the band. His manager, however, swayed him to keep the song for himself and it became a hit single. Read more
1991: John Hoyt, U.S. actor who played the strict principal in the movie “Blackboard Jungle,” dies of cancer at 85.
1989: Robert Penn Warren, U.S. poet and author known best for his novel “All the King’s Men,” dies of cancer at 84.
1986: Virginia Gregg, U.S. actress who appeared in numerous radio and television shows including “Gunsmoke,” “The Jack Benny Program,” and “The Rockford Files,” dies of lung cancer at 70.
1980: Bill Evans, U.S. jazz pianist who is considered one of the great jazz pianists of all time and was a member of Miles Davis‘s sextet that recorded the classic album Kind of Blue, dies at 51.
1979: Tommy Leonetti, U.S. singer and actor who appeared on “I Spy” and “Hawaii Five-O” and had a hit song in 1956 with “Free,” dies of cancer at 50.
1938: Thomas Wolfe, U.S. author who was a major American novelist of the early 20th century whose novels included “Look Homeward, Angel,” dies at 37.
1930: Milton Sills, U.S. film actor who was popular during the silent era and starred in the Cecil B. DeMille comedy “Adam’s Rib,” dies at 48.