Singer-songwriter Gary Wright, known for Dream Weaver and for co-founding the band Spooky Tooth, has died. He was 80.
The death of the child actor-turned-musician was confirmed to Variety by son Dorian. His son Justin confirmed Tuesday (Sept 6) to NBC News that his father died from Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia.
Born in Cresskill, New Jersey, Wright was a child star who appeared in Broadway’s Fanny, alongside eventual Brady Bunch star Florence Henderson.
Even as he pursued an education in medicine, the Love Is Alive singer maintained his musicianship and continued playing with bands.
This included the band the New York Times, with whom he played on Traffic’s 1967 European tour.
The gig proved fateful as it led him to Island Records founder Chris Blackwell – whose label represented Traffic. Through Blackwell, Wright met the British musicians with whom he’d form Spooky Tooth.
Though he left in 1970 after the band’s third album, Wright’s work with Spooky Tooth has been covered by the likes of Three Dog Night (I’ve Got Enough Heartache) and Judas Priest in versions (Better By You, Better Than Me). Wright eventually reformed the group in 2004.
Wright also became a frequent collaborator of former Beatles guitarist George Harrison – with whom he had a close friendship until the latter’s 2001 death – and drummer Ringo Starr. Wright’s relationship with Starr saw him touring with Ringo’s All-Starr Band.
It was a trip to India with Harrison that resulted in the title track of Wright’s 1975 album, The Dream Weaver.
The track has played an important role on screens big and small. Wes Craven credited the song with helping him finish developing the concept of A Nightmare On Elm Street.
The song also found its way into films like Wayne’s World – in which Wright appeared – and Toy Story 3.
The Dream Weaver album also featured Love Is Alive, Wright’s other most well-known track. The song was covered by Olivia Newton-John, Chaka Khan, Joe Cocker and more. – New York Daily News/Tribune News Service