It’s really hard for me to imagine The Doors without him.
One of the most important keyboard players in rock history?
That’s a big call I know but imagine another great and successful rock band without a bass player on stage and how Ray Manzarek had to critically fill in the famous sound of the band with his mystical and distinctive playing. For example, try and think of “Light My Fire” and the epic “Riders On The Storm” without those iconic intros. He made the keyboard the signature instrument of the band, rather than lead guitar, which was highly unusual for the times.
Think of The Doors blues, classical, Eastern music, and rock and pop styles that they moved between, and then there was Jim Morrison’s poetry and his erratic on-stage behaviour for which the rest of the band had to frequently cover.
Keyboardist Ray Manzarek of The Doors died a few days ago in Rosenheim, Germany at age 74 after a battle with bile duct cancer.
The Chicago-born Manzarek founded The Doors after meeting then-poet Jim Morrison in California. Morrison and Manzarek met at UCLA film school in 1965 and ran into each other in Venice a few months after graduation. The Doors, which also included guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore, has sold more than 100 million albums and their music has been re-released and repackaged multiple times over the years. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
I was taken by Manzarek’s bestselling 1998 memoir “Light My Fire: My Life With The Doors” and how truly positive he was about life, his love of the psychedelic and the fact that he felt that his meeting with Morrison was predestined.
“I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and bandmate Ray Manzarek today,” said Krieger in a statement. “I’m just glad to have been able to have played Doors songs with him for the last decade. Ray was a huge part of my life and I will always miss him.”
Other classic songs by The Doors include “L.A.Woman,” “Break On Through to the Other Side,” “The End,” “Waiting For The Sun” and “Hello, I Love You,”. After Morrison’s death in 1971, it was Manzarek who most aggressively kept the band’s legacy alive, releasing the singer’s poetry set to new musical backings and, in 2002, forming The Doors of the 21st Century with Krieger and singer Ian Astbury of the Cult. In between those efforts, Manzarek released a series of solo recordings and co-produced the first four albums by seminal late-’70s, early-’80s L.A. punk band X. Manzarek also went on to become a Grammy-nominated recording artist in his own right.
Manzarek’s last release, Translucent Blues on Blind Pig Records, was a 2011 collaboration with slide guitar master Roy Rogers.
So long Ray.