Clare Torry

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Clare Torry
Clare torry.png
Clare Torry in 2003
Born (1947-11-29) 29 November 1947 (age 75)
Marylebone, London, United Kingdom
Known forGuest vocalist on Pink Floyd’s "The Great Gig in the Sky" from the album Dark Side of the Moon

Clare H. Torry (born 29 November 1947) is a British singer, well-known for improvising and performing the wordless vocals on the song "The Great Gig in the Sky" on Pink Floyd's 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon. She sang the theme of the 1977 film 'OCE' in the same style, and also covered the Dolly Parton single "Love Is Like a Butterfly" for the opening titles of the BBC TV series Butterflies, which ran for four series between 1978 and 1983.

Early life[edit]

Clare Torry was born in November 1947 in Marylebone, London,[1] to Geoffrey Napier Torry (1916-1979), who combined careers as Lieutenant-Commander in the Fleet Air Arm and as a Flight Lieutenant in the RAF, and his wife Dorothy W. Singer (1916-2017), who was the secretary to six BBC Directors-General.


By the end of the 1960s Torry had started a career as a performer, mainly singing covers of popular songs.[2] In 1973 Pink Floyd were recording The Dark Side of the Moon at Abbey Road Studios, and engineer Alan Parsons booked Torry to sing on an instrumental by Richard Wright to be called "The Great Gig in the Sky".

"They simply said, 'Who shall we get to sing this?' And I said, 'Well, I know a great singer.' I just knew her through one album of hit cover versions she'd done – you know, the cover albums that proliferated in the early 1970s. They were always done in a day. And I was very impressed with her. There was a bit of direction given: they said, 'Sorry, we've got no words, no melody line, just a chord sequence – just see what you can do with it.' She was only there for a couple of hours. As I remember, she did two or three tracks, from which we assembled the best bits for a master version. But somewhere in the archives are the bits we didn't use, and I'm sure it would make for an interesting remix version one day." – Alan Parsons.[3]

On 4 November 1973, Torry sang "The Great Gig in the Sky" at the Rainbow Theatre in London.[2][4][5][6] She sang it with Pink Floyd again at their 1990 concert at Knebworth, and with Roger Waters at some of his 1980s solo shows.[7] She also contributed to Waters' 1986 soundtrack When the Wind Blows and to his 1987 album Radio K.A.O.S..[7]

Torry performed as a session singer (on 1970s UK TV adverts) and as a live backing vocalist with Kevin Ayers, Olivia Newton-John, Shriekback, The Alan Parsons Project (for whom she also sang lead vocal on one track on 1979's Eve), Procol Harum mainman Gary Brooker, Matthew Fisher, Cerrone, Meat Loaf (a duet on the song "Nowhere Fast", and the hit "Modern Girl"), Johnny Mercer and Doctors of Madness.

She performed Dolly Parton's "Love Is Like a Butterfly" as the theme music to the 1970s Wendy Craig/Geoffrey Palmer, Carla Laine sitcom Butterflies. The song was released as a single in 1981. Torry also released "Love for Living" in 1969, which was produced by Ronnie Scott and Robin Gibb. She sang the theme of the 1977 film 'OCE' in the same style as "The Great Gig in the Sky".[8]

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.[citation needed]

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 a fashion similar to "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").[9]

On 20 October 2010, Torry was presented with a BASCA Gold Badge Award in recognition of her unique contribution to music.[10]


In 2004, Torry 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 (the equivalent of £400 in 2022).[7] In 2005, an out-of-court settlement was reached in Torry's favour, although the terms of the settlement were not disclosed.[11] All releases after 2005 carry an additional credit for "Vocal composition by Clare Torry"[12] for the "Great Gig in the Sky" segment of the booklet or liner notes.

Later work[edit]

In February 2006, Torry released Heaven in the Sky, a collection of her early pop recordings from the 1960s and 1970s. In 2011, she released a collaboration with musician and composer John Fyffe.


  1. ^ GRO Register of Births: JUN 1949 5d 499 MARYLEBONE. Clare H. Torry, mmn = Singer
  2. ^ a b "'Dark Side' at 30: Alan Parsons". Rolling Stone. 12 March 2003. Archived from the original on 14 June 2009. 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.
  3. ^ Cunningham, Mark (January 1995). "The other side of the moon". Making Music. p. 19.
  4. ^ "'Dark Side' at 30: Roger Waters". Rolling Stone. 12 March 2003. Archived from the original on 14 October 2009. 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."
  5. ^ 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."
  6. ^ "'Dark Side' at 30: David Gilmour". Rolling Stone. 12 March 2003. Archived from the original on 14 October 2009. 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.
  7. ^ a b c Mabbett, Andy. Pink Floyd: A Visual Documentary. pp. [unnumbered].
  8. ^ "Clare Torry - theme from film 'OCE'". Mojo. February 2023.
  9. ^ "Album: En Dejlig Torsdag". Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  10. ^ "Gold Badges For Heather Small, John Paul Jones". Billboard. 20 October 2010.
  11. ^ "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.
  12. ^ "The Dark Side Of The Moon" vinyl gatefold / booklet