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RIP Ray Manzarek, Keyboardist And Founding Member Of The Doors
May 20, 2013
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Ray Manzarek playing at Sunset Strip Music Festival in August, 2012 (Photo: AP)

Ray Manzarek, a founding member of The Doors and a musician who had a major impact on rock and roll, has died following a long battle with bile duct cancer. He was 74.

Manzarek, The Doors' keyboardist, founded the band after a conversation with lead singer Jim Morrison (who was a poet at the time) on a beach in California.

The story goes that the two men (both of whom were alumni of UCLA film school, where they met) ran into one another by chance on Venice Beach one day in 1965.

Morrison told Manzarek he'd been writing tunes - "I was taking notes a fantastic rock 'n' roll concert going on in my head" - and Manzarek encouraged him to sing something.

Morrison busted out 'Moonlight Drive', which would later appear on The Doors' 'Strange Days' album. Rock 'n' roll music would never the same again.

Manzarek recruited his brothers Jim and Rick from the band they all played in (Rick & The Ravens), and drummer John Densmore who he had met in meditation class. The five were joined by bassist Patty Sullivan, and the band recorded a six-song demo.

You can listen to the whole thing below:

An undated shot of The Doors (Photo: AP)

After the recording, The Doors recruited guitarist Robby Krieger, cementing the group's final lineup: Morrison, Manzarek, Krieger and Densmore.


They would go on to massive success. Their self-titled debut record hit number two on the Billboard 200, and was listed at 42nd place on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

In all, the band has sold more than 100 million records worldwide, and was honoured with induction into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, with Manzarek's unique keyboard style playing a big part in the distinctive nature of their sound - and helping to inspire countless bands who came after.

For an idea of just what Manzarek could do with a keyboard, check out this 10-minute performance of the classic 'Light My Fire', live in Europe in 1968:

Following Jim Morrison's death, Manzarek and the other members of the band continued to release music, and Manzarek continued to tour with Krieger until his death, playing songs from The Doors catalogue.

Manzarek also played with several other groups, including Nite City, and worked with musicians like Philip Glass, the band X, and Echo & the Bunnymen.

He released a memoir about his time with The Doors in 1998, 'Light My Fire: My Life with The Doors'.

Manzarek married Dorothy Fujikawa on December 21, 1967, with Jim Morrison in attendance. The couple had a son, Pablo, and three grandchildren, and remained together until his death.


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