Bernard Wright, musician and oft-sampled artist, dies at 58

Wright is best known for his 1985 R&B hit, 'Who Do You Love.'

Bernard Wright, musician, singer, and songwriter, has passed away at age 58. Though Wright is best known for his 1985 hit single, “Who Do You Love,” much of his music was sampled by rappers.

News of his death was first disclosed on Friday by William “Spaceman” Patterson, a fellow musician and colleague of Wright’s in the group, The Jamaica Boys. His cause of death is currently unknown.

“On behalf of the family of Bernard Wright (Nard), We are saddened to announce that yesterday Bernard has been called home to the Most High,” Patterson posted on his Facebook page. “Thanks for everyone’s support, encouragement, and prayers for Nard throughout the years. Please keep the family in your thoughts and prayers through this difficult time.”

Patterson continued, “Our hearts are heavy and our faith is strong. To be absent from the body is to be present with The Lord! LOVE! Rest In Power, Nard.”

Wright was a talented keyboardist and composer. Born and raised in Jamaica, Queens, he collaborated extensively with fellow jazz and R&B musicians from the area, including bassist Marcus Miller, drummer Lenny White, keyboardists Weldon Irvine and Don Blackman, and trumpeter Tom Browne, according to the 2011 article “Jamaica Kats” in Wax Poetics. Wright played keyboards on Browne’s 1980’s R&B hit, “Funkin’ For Jamaica (N.Y.).”

Wright is also the godson of Grammy-winning singer Roberta Flack. Although numerous reports list her as Wright’s mother, Vibe reports that is inaccurate.

In 1981, at just the age of 18, Wright released his first album, ‘Nard. By 1985, he released his third album, Mr. Wright, containing the biggest hit of his career, “Who Do You Love,” peaking in the Top 10 of the R&B charts.

Much of Wright’s music was often sampled by hip-hop artists. “Who Do You Love” was sampled by LL Cool J in 1995 for the hit remix of his single, “Loungin’.”

Wright’s ‘Nard album proved to be fertile ground for samples. The song “Spinnin'” was famously sampled by rapper Skee-Lo for his 1995 number one pop single, “I Wish.” YoYo and Ice Cube reached number one on the rap charts in 1993 by sampling Wright’s “Master Rocker” for “The Bonnie and Clyde Theme.” Snoop Dogg sampled “Haboglabotribin” for his song “G’z and Hustlas” from his 1993 debut album, Doggystyle.

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