Ray Manzarek, keyboardist and co-founder of the legendary band, the Doors, passed away May 20th in Rosenheim, Germany from bile duct cancer. He was 74. While it’s fair to say that many immediately associate the Doors with the group’s flamboyant and sometimes outrageous frontman, Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek deserves much of the credit for the band’s unique and yet-unmatched sound.
After hearing some of Morrison’s songs and forming the Doors together in 1965, Manzarek and Morrison added guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore to complete the band’s lineup. What most will notice straight away is the lack of a bassist in that rhythm section. Well, it was there where Manzarek found an opportunity to create rhythms and tonalities very much his own and now synonymous with the Doors. He did so by playing both the group’s bass parts on a Fender Rhodes piano as well as those fantastic, psychedelic keyboard parts with a Vox Continental organ.
After Morrison’s death in 1971, Manzarek continued to perform, playing with the band Nite City in the late 1970s. He also wrote Light my Fire: My Life with the Doors, an autobiographical memoir, which was published in 1988.
The Doors music is as fresh today as it was when it was released over forty-five years ago and it’s still a standard on my iTunes playlist, which runs pretty much 24/7. That said; there’s no question much of the Doors groundbreaking sound and staying power owes much to the incredible talent and virtuosity of Ray Manzarek. Thanks Ray!
Curt “Dudley” Miller
Photo Credit : Wikipedia Commons Circa 1968