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.”