Since news first broke yesterday of the passing of legendary rock keyboardist Ray Manzarek, who co-founded The Doors in 1965 with Jim Morrison, people have been playing Doors music and sending out tributes. I never realized just how many people loved the Doors so much but such is the sign of a truly great band. Some people, upon hearing the news at first, didn't believe it and questioned if it was a hoax. Such is the ere we live in. But soon everyone found out that sadly the news was no hoax and that the greatly admired musician/author/film director, who maintained a consistent passion for his art throughout his life, had left this earth. Yesterday, Monday May 20th, the South Chicago born Manzarek died at the RoMed Clinic in Rosenheim, Germany following a battle with bile-duct cancer. Manzarek was 74.
While Jim Morrison - the late great vocalist and front man of The Doors - might be the first one to come to mind when the average person thinks of the Doors it was the blues rooted keyboard playing of Manzarek and his signature hooks, that also doubled as the bass backbone of the group's sound, that helped distinguish the Doors' warm sound. And the fact that the Doors even came about in the first place is thanks to Manzarek's intuition and foresight. As the story goes; following a chance encounter on Venice Beach with Morrison, who he first met at UCLA before the two film students had graduated, Manzarek convinced the future Doors front man, who considered himself a poet and not a musician, that his poems/songs would be best presented with the backing of a blues-based rock band. And the rest as they say is rock n roll history. Manzarek's soulful musicianship was instrumental in defining such Doors classics as “Light My Fire,” “Riders on the Storm,” “Love Her Madly,” and (my personal favorite) “Roadhouse Blues.”
After Morrison's 1971 death The Doors continued for a couple of more years before disbanding. But after that Manzarek continued making music as artist and/or producer working over the years with such acts as LA punk band X, Echo and the Bunnymen, Philip Glass, Iggy Pop, Northern Cali bluesman Roy Rogers, and of course Nite City - his latter 70's group that featured vocalist Noah James and Blondie bassist Nigel Harrison who recorded two albums (1977's Nite City and 1978's Golden Days Diamond Nights). Along with fellow former Doors member Robby Krieger he continued performing Doors material - under both their names but sometimes under the name The Doors of the 21st Century - up until recently. Four years ago the duo were guests on Daryl Hall’s monthly performance Live From Daryl’s House when they played several Doors songs. In addition to music Manzarek penned a memoir and two novels. Below are a few Manzarek themed videos including one uploaded just yesterday by "Weird Al" Yankovic of a session he recorded four years ago at Sausalito Sound with Manzarek playing keys on the Doors derived Yankovic song "Craigslist." Another is of Manzarek telling the story behind "Riders On The Storm" which is an excerpt from Mr. Mojo Risin':The Story of L.A. Woman. Meanwhile for just a taste of his amazing work with The Doors alone check out the Doors catalog available from Amoeba.com.
Ray Manzarek-The Story of Riders on the Storm
The Doors "Roadhouse Blues"
Ray Manzarek plays "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Craigslist"