January 16, 2017 – Steve Wright (Greg Kihn Band) was born in El Cerrito California in 1950.
Wright had played in a band called Traumatic Experience with El Cerrito residents John Cuniberti and Jimmy Thorsen.
After changing their name to Hades Blues Works (later, Hades) they expanded into a quartet with Craig Ferreira in 1970
In 1975 Greg Kihn had already signed to Berserkley Records and had a song included on the album Beserkley Chartbusters before entering the studio to record the debut album with a new band consisting of Wright, Robbie Dunbar and Larry Lynch – the Greg Kihn Band.
What followed was 20 years of recording and touring with several monster hits composed by Steve Wright and Greg Kihn. Kihn wrote in a tribute, “we were like brothers.” Not only did Wright play bass in the band, but he also became Kihn’s main songwriting partner, including such hits as The Breakup Song (They Don’t Write ‘Em), Testify, Happy Man, Jeopardy and Reunited. He also received a credit on Weird Al Yankovic’s hit parody I Lost on Jeopardy.
Kihn’s Eulogy probably sums up best the nature of their collaboration in those years.
Greg Kihn announcement:
I have some bad news. My soul brother and songwriting partner, Steve Wright, has passed away. He died of a heart attack on January 16, 2017 (Monday) at 1:00am at UC Davis Hospital in Sacramento, California.
Steve and I started the Greg Kihn Band back in 1975 and we were like brothers. We composed all the hits like “Jeopardy,” “Lucky,” and “The Breakup Song,” and dozens of others. Steve was the driving force behind the band and always kept it fresh and new. We had many adventures over the years and lived our lives to the fullest.
Steve was a musician’s musician. He was a natural born songwriter and a creative spark through thick and thin. He pushed the band along through the early years, the us-against-the-world years, the rockstar years, the drugs and divorces, the crack-ups and comebacks, all the while managing to write yet another song. We traveled the miles together, made the videos, cut the records, rehearsed the band, played the gigs, and all the while we thought we were invincible. Steve was there every step of the way, from those tiny clubs to the biggest venues in the land. Steve kicked ass! He was the guy who called the members of the band and told them about that rehearsal Thursday night. He would show up at any hour of the day or night with a new song. He was incredibly creative.
Steve was a monster bass player, the best I ever heard. He could drive the band forward or slow the tempo down to a hush. His voice complimented mine perfectly and his harmonies were incredible. He also played keyboards and guitar. He could write songs in any place at any time: airplanes, busses, cars, on horseback, on merry-go-rounds, anywhere! He was prolific at a time when most songwriters were still rhyming “spoon” and “June.”
I’ll always remember the day in 1983 when he dropped by my house to show his new toy, a new-fangled battery powered Casio keyboard with a built-in drum machine. It had a cheesy clavinet sound and Steve played me a riff he just wrote. I heard the now infamous riff from “Jeopardy.” What happened next was magic. I spontaneously started singing “our love’s in jeopardy, baby, whoo-who-hoo.” That song wrote itself in about 15 minutes. It was as if the song was floating around in the air and we just snatched it up. Magic! Steve was always sensitive to the magic.
To the millions of fans around the world who loved Steve’s music, I say go back and listen to the albums. Listen to the sound of his genius.
Steve was a life partner for the greatest years of my life, and I’ll always love him. My career certainly wouldn’t have been the same without songs like “Jeopardy” and “Breakup.” Of the five original guys who cut “Breakup Song,” only two remain, Larry Lynch and me.
Good-bye Steve, I’ll miss you, my brother. It’s been a hell of a ride. I’ll see you in the next life. Have fun jamming with all the greats in Heaven.
Wright died of a heart attack at UC Davis Hospital in Sacramento, California, in the early hours of January 16, 2017.