February 22, 2024
PVE resident who helped establish the synthesizer as a leading instrument in rock and pop music, died on Monday, Sept. 4.

Gary Wright, a singer-songwriter best known for the 1970s hits “Dream Weaver” and “Love Is Alive,” died this week at his home in Palos Verdes Estates. He was 80.

Family members said Wright, who had Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia for the past several years, was surrounded by loved ones in his final moments. Word of his death, on Monday, Sept. 4, quickly spread, with fans and fellow musicians sharing their memories on social media.

The artist, who helped establish the synthesizer as a leading instrument in rock and pop music, released his “The Dream Weaver” solo album in 1975. The songs “Dream Weaver” and “Love is Alive” were multi-platinum hits.

Prior to that, he was a founding member of the U.K.-based band Spooky Tooth.

Wright’s career also included several notable collaborations with other musicians, including work he did with George Harrison of The Beatles, detailed in the 2014 memoir, “Dream Weaver: Music, Meditation, and My Friendship with George Harrison.”

Fellow singer-songwriter Stephen Bishop on Monday wrote a tribute to Wright on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“It is with great sadness that I received the news of my dear friend Gary Wright’s passing,” Bishop wrote. “Gary’s vibrant personality and exceptional talent made every moment together truly enjoyable. His legacy will live on for many years to come.

“I will always cherish the warmth and kindness shown to me by Gary and his wife Rose, and I will forever hold dear the stories he shared with me about days gone by,” he added. “My heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends, and fans during this difficult time.”

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Besides music, Wright was also “very serious about his spiritual path,” and passionate about his guru Paramahansa Yogananda, said his youngest son, Dorian Wright, 50.

It’s a passion he shared with Harrison — and passed along to his children.

“They were very much into his teachings,” Dorian Wright said in a Tuesday phone interview from his home in Hawaii.

The younger Wright said his younger father started him with meditation when he was 6 years old. And today, the younger Wright teaches yoga.

“This morning, I got to sit in lotus by my father’s side, chanting and meditating for 2 hours,” he posted on Instagram Monday. “As I chanted his last chant, I watched him take his last earthly breath. Thank you, Dad, for letting me help you leave your body for the Astral Plane!”

The elder Wright also opened doors for his sons in the music business, with Dorian Wright becoming a producer and his brother, Justin Wright, who lives in San Pedro, becoming a musician who had played in the band Intangible.

The elder Wright would was also generous, Dorian Wright said, always lending a helping hand to musicians and his neighbors.

“What I learned from a lot of these great musicians he worked with,” Dorian Wright said in an interview, “is he was someone that always helped people in their career.”

David Pack, of Ambrosia fame, was a neighbor and friend of Gary Wright’s who experienced that generosity.

“David Pack said, ‘Your Dad would show up to my house with a basket of tomatoes from his garden,’” Dorian Wright recalled his father’s friend telling him. “He’s one of those guys. He would learn and introduce himself to all the neighbors in the neighborhood.”

The elder Wright was a “grinder” when it came to work, his youngest son said, from his days as a child actor and throughout his musical career. But that musical career nearly ended before it began. At one point, Wright almost left the music business because his career hadn’t taken off, his son said.

“The Dream Weaver,” in fact, would have been his last album and if it wasn’t successful, he would have quit music, Dorian Wright recalled his son telling him.

“And then all the stars aligned,” Dorian Wright said.

They did indeed. The album, which came out in 1975, was eventually certified platinum and both the title track and “Love Is Alive” hit No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Chris Agajanian was with the musician a lot during the late 1970s.

While operating Ascot Raceway in Gardena, Agajanian also had a foot in the music business when he met Wright, who he recalled as a generous man.

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Agajanian said he first met Wright around 1975 or 1976 when he was Stephen Stills’ interim manager. Stills was hosting a party, which major stars attended and where he met Wright’s road manager at the time.

When Wright’s road manager died, he called Agajanian “out of the blue” and they met at the Red Onion restaurant in Redondo Beach.

Soon after, Agajanian became Wright’s manager and was so during the late 1970s.

They also traveled the world together, including to South America and India, around 1977 or 1978, where they took a spiritual journey inspired by Harrison.

Besides the working relationship, they also became close friends, buying a boat together to travel to Catalina Island, and Wright would attend races at Ascot.

Agajanian, who lived in Manhattan Beach for years and currently lives in San Pedro, also co-wrote “Love is a Rose” with Wright, which was on his 1981 album “The Right Place.”

Agajanian remembered his longtime friend on Tuesday as someone who was spiritual and an atypical rock star, someone who took care of his body by running and eating properly.

“He was always careful about that,” Agajanian said. “He didn’t take drugs. The only alcohol he drank would be wine once in a while at dinner. He was very spiritual and loved God.”

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