Clare Torry in 2003
|Known for||"The Great Gig in the Sky"|
Clare Torry attended Battle Abbey School in East Sussex, where she found it hard to cope with the school's conservative and strict code, making it difficult for the teachers to support her singing and songwriting skills.
By the end of the 1960s, Clare Torry managed to start a career as a performer, mainly based on covers of popular songs. Alan Parsons asked her to take part in Pink Floyd's recording of the album The Dark Side of the Moon, on the instrumental song penned by Richard Wright going under the name of "The Great Gig in the Sky".
Since then, Torry has also performed as a session singer (singing on a number of 1970s UK TV adverts) and as a live backing vocalist with Kevin Ayers, Olivia Newton-John, Shriekback, The Alan Parsons Project (for which she also sang lead vocal on one track on their 1979 Eve album), Procol Harum mainman Gary Brooker, Matthew Fisher, Cerrone, Meat Loaf and Johnny Mercer. She reprised her Pink Floyd appearance during a few 1980s concerts with Roger Waters' band, and also contributed to Waters' 1986 soundtrack When the Wind Blows and to his 1987 album Radio K.A.O.S.. She sang with the David Gilmour-led Pink Floyd at a 1990 concert at Knebworth.
Torry also sang the Dolly Parton song "Love Is Like a Butterfly" as the theme music to the 1970s Wendy Craig/Geoffrey Palmer sitcom Butterflies. The song was released as a single in 1981. Torry also released the song "Love for Living" in 1969, which was produced by Ronnie Scott and Robin Gibb.
Torry sang backing vocals on the track "The War Song" from Culture Club's Waking Up with the House on Fire album in 1984, as well as on the track "Yellowstone Park" on the Tangerine Dream album Le Parc the following year. Her voice can also be heard singing "Love to Love You Baby" (originally by Donna Summer) during the opening scene of the cult BBC Play for Today production of Abigail's Party in 1977.
Torry is also credited on the 1987 album En Dejlig Torsdag (A Lovely Thursday) by the Danish pop rock band TV-2, where she sings in fashion similar to that of "The Great Gig in the Sky" at the end of the tracks "Stjernen I Mit Liv" ("The Star in my Life") and "I Baronessens Seng" ("In the Bed of the Baroness").
In 2004, she sued Pink Floyd and EMI for songwriting royalties on the basis that her contribution to "The Great Gig in the Sky" constituted co-authorship with keyboardist Richard Wright. Originally, she was paid the standard flat fee of £30 for Sunday studio work. In 2005, an out-of-court settlement was reached in Torry's favour, although the terms of the settlement were not disclosed. All releases after 2005 credit 'Richard Wright/Clare Torry' for the "Great Gig in the Sky" segment.
In February 2006, Clare Torry released a CD Heaven in the Sky, a collection of her early pop tunes from the 1960s and 1970s.
- "'Dark Side' at 30: Alan Parsons". Rolling Stone. 12 March 2003. Retrieved 18 February 2009. "She had done a covers album; I can remember that she did a version of "Light My Fire". I just thought she had a great voice. When the situation came up, they started head-scratching, saying, "Who are we going to get to sing on this?" I said, "I've got an idea – I know this girl." She came, and in a couple of hours it was all done. She had to be told not to sing any words: when she first started, she was doing "Oh yeah baby" and all that kind of stuff, so she had to be restrained on that. But there was no real direction — she just had to feel it."
- "'Dark Side' at 30: Roger Waters". Rolling Stone. 12 March 2003. Retrieved 18 February 2009. "It was something that Rick had already written. It's a great chord sequence. "The Great Gig in the Sky" and the piano part on "Us and Them," in my view, are the best things that Rick did – they're both really beautiful. And Alan [Parsons] suggested Clare Torry. I've no idea whose idea it was to have someone wailing on it. Clare came into the studio one day, and we said, "There's no lyrics. It's about dying – have a bit of a sing on that, girl." I think she only did one take. And we all said, "Wow, that's that done. Here's your sixty quid.""
- Harris, John (2005). "Interviewed by author John Harris for his book "Dark Side of the Moon"". Brain Damage. Retrieved 18 February 2009. "I went in, put the headphones on, and started going 'Ooh-aah, baby, baby – yeah, yeah, yeah.' They said, 'No, no – we don't want that. If we wanted that we'd have got Doris Troy.' They said, 'Try some longer notes', so I started doing that a bit. And all this time, I was getting more familiar with the backing track. ... "That was when I thought, 'Maybe I should just pretend I'm an instrument.' So I said, 'Start the track again.' One of my most enduring memories is that there was a lovely can [i.e. headphone] balance. Alan Parsons got a lovely sound on my voice: echoey, but not too echoey. When I closed my eyes – which I always did — it was just all-enveloping; a lovely vocal sound, which for a singer, is always inspirational.""
- "'Dark Side' at 30: David Gilmour". Rolling Stone. 12 March 2003. Retrieved 18 February 2009. "Clare Torry [session singer] didn't really look the part. She was Alan Parsons' idea. We wanted to put a girl on there, screaming orgasmically. Alan had worked with her previously, so we gave her try. And she was fantastic. We had to encourage her a little bit. We gave her some dynamic hints: "Maybe you'd like to do this piece quietly, and this piece louder." She did maybe half a dozen takes, and then afterwards we compiled the final performance out of all the bits. It wasn't done in one single take."
- "Seventies Singer". 2005. Retrieved 23 January 2009. "A female vocalist may have become the first British artist to win an out-of-court settlement for a piece of music recorded over 30 years ago. Clare Torry was paid £30 to perform on Pink Floyd's 1973 album 'Dark Side of the Moon' and was given a written credit at the time. Yet the session singer, who contributed to the track The Great Gig in the Sky, took her claim to the High Court where she has won a half-share on copyright ownership on the song performed. Although most details of the case are secret, the Daily Telegraph has reported the singer secured a cash payment with Pink Floyd and their label, EMI."