Gary Wright, singer of the mid-1970s hit ‘Dream Weaver,’ dies at 80 – NBC US

Gary Wright, the musician best known for his hit singles “Dream Weaver” and “Love Is Alive,” died Monday. He was 80. Wright’s son Dorian confirmed the news to Variety.

His son Justin told NBC News the cause was Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia.

He was a founding member of the U.K.-based band Spooky Tooth and was an in-demand session player from the late ’60s on, playing on all of George Harrison’s solo albums — including his epochal 1970 debut, “All Things Must Pass” — and on Ringo Starr’s early singles (and, much later, with Starr’s All-Starr Band) as well as Nilsson, Tim Rose, B.B. King and many others. Yet he will be best remembered for the mid-1970s hits mentioned above, which were part of a vaguely mystical, synthesizer-driven style of hit single of the era — Steve Miller’s “Fly Like an Eagle” is another example — and which saw him appearing on many music shows, wearing satin gear and rocking a keytar.

His first album for Warner Bros., “The Dream Weaver” — with a title track inspired by a trip to India with Harrison — was released in 1975, and while the single was a slow builder, by the following spring it was a major hit and Wright had become a big star. However, it was nearly two years before he followed with “The Light of Smiles,” and his subsequent efforts did not approach his previous success. His last charting single was 1981’s “Really Wanna Know You.”

In the following years, Wright specialized in instrumental and soundtrack work — although he made a surprise appearance in the 1992 film “Wayne’s World,” singing a re-recorded version of “Dream Weaver” — but he returned to more conventional rock music and issued a series of albums, with the last one, “Connected,” being released in 2010. He toured frequently, as a solo act, with Spooky Tooth and with Ringo’s All-Starr Band.

Over the years, his songs have continued to be covered — Chaka Khan recorded a blazing version of “Love Is Alive” for her 1984 smash album “I Feel for You” — and sampled by artists ranging from Jay-Z to Tone-Loc.

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