Ray Manzarek, a founding member and keyboardist of 1960s rock group The Doors, has died at a medical clinic in Germany at age 74 following a battle with cancer.
Manzarek, who lived in Northern California’s Napa Valley wine country for the past decade, had been seeking treatment in Germany for bile duct cancer. He died in Rosenheim, Germany, surrounded by his wife and brothers.
Singer Jim Morrison and then UCLA film student Manzarek, formed The Doors in 1965 after a chance meeting at Los Angeles’ Venice Beach, and Manzarek’s keyboard work would go on to be a touchstone of hits such as “Break On Through to the Other Side” and “Light My Fire.”
The band, which was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, sold 100 million records since its heyday with psychedelic-era classics such as 1971’s “Riders on the Storm.”
The Doors broke up shortly after Morrison’s death from heart failure in 1971, but their mythology exploded following the 1980 publication of the biography “No One Here Gets Out Alive” and the 1991 film, “The Doors”, by director Oliver Stone.
The band recorded a total of eight albums between 1967 and 1972. After the band’s break up, Manzarek released two albums with the rock band “Nite City” in the late 1970s and six solo albums, most recently “Translucent Blues” in 2011 with blues-rock guitarist Roy Rogers.
Manzarek and Krieger became locked in a legal battle with drummer John Densmore in 2003 after the two reunited under The Doors name and later “The Doors of the 21st Century,” but were finally forced to tour as Manzarek-Krieger.
I managed to see The Doors of the 21st Century, with Ian Astbury from The Cult on vocals. Without Jim Morrison you might think there’s no point in going to see The Doors. If you thought this…you’d be oh so very wrong.
Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger, along with Ian Astbury (vocals) and Stewart Copeland (on drums, formerly from The Police), were amazing.
They started off with Roadhouse Blues and just went through a plethora of their music. I could go through every song and write an essay about each one. It made me realise how good the songs are, and see the musicianship in Manzarek and Kreiger. This night, The Doors had a bass player, and Manzarek’s left hand almost, at times, didn’t know what to do with itself. But when both hands did come together…it was just sheer fucking bliss to watch and hear.
Some mad, bald English bloke next to me was shouting, “Ray, Ray…get your cock out”. Ray Manzarek looked, and smiled…
It was a night that was very special in so many ways. Obviously, we won’t see it again…but the memory will hold all that was seen and heard.
Manzarek, who was born in Chicago in 1939, embraced old age in 2006.
“We occupy these bodies for 70, 80, 90 years, and it’s so much fun being alive on planet Earth that you want to keep this thing as fresh as you possibly can,” he said.
“The spirit, the mind, the soul, what’s inside of you just gets hipper and hipper as you get older … you get a whole broadened outlook on things,” he added. “That just naturally keeps going, but the damn body slows down.”
Manzarek is also the author of two novels and most notably the 1998 memoir, “Light My Fire: My Life with The Doors.”
Ray Manzarek is survived by his wife, Dorothy, two brothers, a son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren.
Manzarek’s electric organ was a defining aspect next to Morrison’s booming voice in the band’s blues and jazz influenced take on rock and roll.
But it wasn’t just the organ that Ray Manzarek gave to us all.
The Doors didn’t have a bass player when they started. So, Mr Manzarek use to play all the bass-lines with his left hand and play all of the wonderful keyboard riffs and tunes with his right hand. Sometimes, as I am sure you are aware, Jim Morrison would be a bit too ‘out-of-it’ to stand let alone sing…he sometimes never used to even turn up to the gig.
Most bands would have maybe cancelled, but not The Doors. Ray Manzarek would sing the songs. So he’s playing the bass, keyboard AND singing. The man was a fucking genius !
I don’t think there has anything even remotely like The Doors since they graced us with their oral vision. All four members (Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Robby Kreiger and John Densmore) are so unique their own individual sound, the way they play, and the way they perform…that’s not even including the songs, which are as important today, as they ever were. I can’t honestly think of another band where all band members in-print their own uniqueness and individuality in a song. It’s possible with all of these factors that the songs would become a mess…but this is not the case.
If you haven’t listened to The Doors, then listen.
If you haven’t read about The Doors, then read.
For fuck’s sake, just download the first album, and then the last album (“The Doors” and “LA Woman” respectively). Start at ‘Break On Through’, work your way through ‘The End’, and then keep on going onto ‘LA Woman’ and end up at ‘Riders On The Storm’.
Once you understand these songs and others on these two albums, you can then find out what went on in between. After that…get reading…I promise you won’t be bored.
Amazing songs…written and played by an amazing man, of which we will never see again.
R,I,P. – Ray Manzarek
by Wallace McTavish