George Wright, who served as staff organist at Radio City Music Hall and the Paramount Theater in New York, died May 10 of unreported causes in Southern California. He was 77.
He had an extremely successful recording career, chalking up more than 40 albums and nearly 20 compact discs.
Wright was born in Orland and reared in Stockton, where he took organ lessons. His first professional engagement was at the Shanghai Terrace Bowl, a Chinese nightclub in Oakland that boasted a two-manual, six-rank Wurlitzer. The show was broadcast nightly by an Oakland radio station.
In 1941, he joined San Francisco radio station KFRC and performed at Frisco’s Fox Theater on Saturday nights. In 1944 he relocated to New York City, where he played on Jack Berch’s NBC show and later guested with Paul Whiteman and Percy Faith and on the network shows of Bing Crosby and Perry Como.
He also conducted his own orchestra on the Robert Q. Lewis show and began a seven-year stint playing in a trio with Charles Magnante and Tony Mottola for an NBC show sponsored by the Prudential Insurance Co.
In 1949, he signed on as chief organist for the Paramount Theater in New York. In 1951 he returned to California as ABC’s musical director for the West Coast. He also served as organist and choirmaster for the Redemptorist church in Whittier.