Gary Wright takes the stage Oct. 4 at Largo Cultural Center.
LARGO – American rock musician Gary Wright will weave melodic dreams when he performs Friday, Oct. 4, 8 p.m., at Largo Cultural Center, 105 Central Park Drive, Largo.
Tickets start at $34.50, plus applicable service fee. Call 587-6793 or visit largoarts.com.
Best known for his 1975 synthpop hit “Dream Weaver,” Wright has recorded more than a dozen solo albums in a career that has spanned more than half a century. His biggest hit, “Dream Weaver,” has been featured in many movies including “Wayne's World,” “The People vs. Larry Flynt” and “Toy Story 3.” Wright has continued to have success on the Billboard charts with “Love Is Alive,” “Really Wanna Know You” and “Phantom Writer.” In 1986, he contributed the song “Hold On to Your Vision” on the soundtrack of Sylvester Stallone's movie “Cobra.” “Better By You, Better Than Me,” a song written by Wright, was covered by Judas Priest on their 1978 album “Stained Class.”
In recent years, Wright has been seen touring with Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band.
The ‘Dream Weaver’
Wright’s signature song, “Dream Weaver,” appeared on the 1975 album “The Dream Weaver.” It is generally considered the first synthpop hit song as all instrumentation in “Dream Weaver” was created by synthesizer, except for percussionist Jim Keltner’s drums. Synthpop, defined by its primary use of synthesizers, drum machines and sequencers, had roots in electronic art music by artists such as Jean Michel Jarre, Vangelis and Tomita. By the late 1970s, an increasing number of musicians began dabbling with the sound, including Devo and The Human League. As a genre, synthpop did not achieve mainstream commercial success until the early 1980s and the introduction of the New Romantic movement associated with bands such as Duran Duran, ABC, Soft Cell and Ultravox.
“The Dream Weaver” stretched the pop music envelope by featuring the first-ever all keyboard/synthesizer band, 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 No. 1 in the charts, and its follow-up release “Love is Alive” climbed to No. 2. In all, “The Dream Weaver” resulted in sales of over two million albums and two 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. Wright’s “Dream Weaver” has directly or indirectly inspired and influenced generations of electronica musicians since its release 38 years ago.
Wright’s music career actually began 16 years before the release of “Dream Weaver.”
Wright joined Billy Markle in 1959 to record as Gary & Billy. The duo released “Working After School” and “Lisa” for the 20th Century Fox Records label. Wright was 16. Prior to that, Wright appeared on Broadway in “Fanny,” originating the role of Acolyte and, later, replacing Lloyd Reese in the role of Cesario, the son of Fanny.
In the 1960s, Wright put his recording career on hold to complete his education. He earned a degree in psychology.
According to the artist’s biography, provided by Larkio Music, Wright met Island Records founder Chris Blackwell in 1967 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 path that included sold-out U.S. tours with rock legends Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones. The band followed up with its classic second album, “Spooky Two.”
Wright next released two solo albums on A&M Records, “Extraction” (1971) and “Footprint” (1972). He also recorded three more albums with a revived Spooky Tooth featuring Mick Jones, who would later found the band Foreigner. In 1974, Wright signed a deal with Warner Bros. Records, which resulted in his groundbreaking 1975 release “The Dream Weaver.”
The 1970s proved an extremely prolific period for Wright. He produced records for Traffic and Rolling Stones producer Jimmy Miller’s production company. He quickly became a part of London’s elite session musicians, playing keyboards on George Harrison’s 1970 classic “All Things Must Pass,” which also featured Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Phil Collins and other greats.
Together with Harrison, Wright visited India in 1974 as a guest of Ravi Shankar. That visit developed into a long term relationship with Shankar as well as some of India’s other leading classical artists which ultimately blossomed in his award-winning 1988 album “Who I Am” 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.
Wright continued recording and releasing solo albums through the 1980s and 1990s. His output included “The Right Place” (1981), “Who I Am” (1988), “First Signs of Life” (1995) and “Human Love” (1999).
In 2008, Wright became the newest touring member of Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band before releasing an instrumental album of ambient music called “Waiting To Catch the Light” and an EP called “The Light of a Million Suns” that featured a duet with his son Dorian on a re-record of his hit song “Love Is Alive.”
Wright began another new decade in the music industry with the 2010 release of “Connected,” his first pop-rock album in more than 20 years. “Connected” is described as a culmination of Wright’s vast life experiences, songwriting ability and production know-how.
Wright, a visionary songwriter, performer and all-around musical pioneer, has spent more than 40 years shattering conventional ideas about how to make chart-topping rock music, according to Larkio Music. His classic songs “Dream Weaver,” “Love is Alive” and “Really Wanna Know You” have given ample evidence of Wright’s musical genius by achieving hit status in four different decades while his musical wizardry has helped shape and redirect the very sound and texture of contemporary pop.