Song of the Day: Pink Floyd – “The Great Gig In The Sky”

Today marks the birthday of late Pink Floyd keyboardist Richard Wright, who was born on this day in 1943 (Wright passed of lung cancer in 2008). This stirring song is certainly one of Wright’s most memorable moments, and there are a few fascinating tidbits surrounding it:

–The song evolved from a chord progression to an instrumental and eventually vocalist Claire Torry was brought in to accompany it, which was the idea of producer Alan Parsons.
–Roger Waters once said Torry was told the song was about dying and then belted out her vocals in one take. David Gilmour’s account of Torry’s vocals was different as he said it took about a half dozen takes and that her vocals were spliced together afterwards.
–Torry sued Pink Floyd for songwriting royalties in 2004. The case was settled out of court, and as of 2005 her name has been listed as a writer.
–Who spoke the other words on the song? “And I am not frightened of dying. Any time will do, I don’t mind. Why should I be frightened of dying? There’s no reason for it – you’ve got to go sometime” was said by Gerry O’Driscoll, Abbey Road Studios janitorial browncoat, while “I never said I was frightened of dying” was said by Patricia Watts, the wife of road manager Peter Watts.

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This song is also without question one of the most fun to see Pink Floyd cover bands perform. There are a few terrific covers out there, starting with this one.

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