George Harrison once helped Gary Wright strike gold: ‘He was a true genius’

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When Gary Wright’s The Dream Weaver was certified gold on March 8, 1976, it only solidified the importance of George Harrison as a collaborator and confidant.

The album produced a pair of No. 2 hits, “Love is Alive” and — as history would show, much more enduringly — its languid, endlessly mystifying title track. George Harrison played a key role on the latter, Wright tells us in an exclusive Something Else! Sitdown, by sharing something that ultimately inspired “Dream Weaver.”

“George had given me several books written by Paramahansa Yogananda, a god-realized master whose poem ‘God, God, God’ contained the words ‘when at night, my mind weaver dreams …,’” says Wright, who was earlier a member of Spooky Tooth from 1969-74. “He became my guru and, later on, George’s guru as well.”

Their relationship began to flourish just as George Harrison began his solo career, with Wright contributing piano to Harrison’s overstuffed 1970 release All Things Must Pass. They worked together again on the studio follow up, 1973’s smaller-scale Living in the Material World — and, in truth, Wright says he was far more comfortable away from Phil Spector’s much-derided Wall of Sound.

“I’m not a big fan of that style of production, and later on in the project, when things were reduced production-wise, I enjoyed those sessions more,” Wright tells us. “There was only George, Klaus Voorman, Eric Clapton, Jim Gordon and I as the rhythm section.”

Gary Wright co-wrote “If You Believe” for George Harrison’s 1979 self-titled album, and played keyboards on his 1987 comeback smash Cloud Nine, as well. Even Wright’s most recent studio effort, 2010’s Connected, includes two Harrison-related tracks — though it arrived nearly a decade after his friend had gone.

“To Discover Yourself,” was co-written by Gary Wright and Harrison in 1971 and recorded by Wright on the day of George’s death in 2001. “He was over at my apartment,” Wright remembers. “I wrote most of the lyrics; he did the music. I put it in the back of my mind. The actual day that George passed, I was in the studio [and] I decided to memorialize that day by recording the song.”

“Never Give Up,” which like “To Discover Yourself” was included in an expanded edition of Connected, was recorded in 1989 and features George Harrison on guitar. But, even more than those musical remembrances, Wright says a relationship with Harrison that was always based on something deeper, and more spiritual, has continued beyond death.

“George was, and is, one of my dearest friends — and I always admired his creativity and sincerity,” Wright tells us. “He was a true genius, and probably one of the most creative people I’d ever met.”

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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