Ray Manzarek brought The Doors together. His jazz influenced keyboarding style helped illuminate the band’s iconic sound. His musical connection with his bandmates lives on through time and continues to inspire musicians and fans of all generations. His high-powered blend of blues, jazz and rock and roll harnessed the sound of The Doors and made it their own — from their self-titled album The Doors all the way to L.A. Woman.
Sadly, Ray Manzarek, founding member and keyboardist of The Doors, passed away on Monday from bile duct cancer. He was 74.
Ray had vision that came alive with Jim Morrison’s poetry. He saw something special in him the day they met in Venice Beach, California in 1965. He knew from the start that Jim emulated who The Doors were meant to be. Ray understood that Jim needed to express his feelings to the world through words. Ray, along with guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore, took Jim’s poetry and made sense of it through music. In “Riders on the Storm,” Ray’s keyboarding paints the picture. You’re suddenly on the road in the rain, taking part in the journey controlled by Jim’s poetry. Jim’s haunting lyrics and the band’s melody take you there and attach you to the blues-infused rhythm. That’s the bottom line with The Doors — every song is an experience.
Doors concerts often turned into jam sessions steered by Jim’s poetry, allowing them to improvise. The band played off the audience’s reactions, which made their performances innovative and different from other bands in that era. The Doors’ music has outlasted time, and will always have an incredible impact on their fans.
The Sunset Strip was deeply saddened by Ray’s passing, and flowers were placed on his Hollywood Walk of Fame star in remembrance. On Tuesday, The Whisky a Go Go, The Roxy and The Viper Room also honored Ray by dimming their lights for 10 minutes at 9:31 p.m., the exact time he passed away in Germany a day earlier.
The Doors are one of the most influential bands of all time, and their captivating sound brought to life by Ray Manzarek will forever be remembered.
The Doors Remember Ray:
“Ray Manzarek and Jim Morrison were the two most unusual people I have ever known. It didn't take long to realize this about Jim. He was obviously a genius, and he worked hard at being different. Did a good job of it too. Ray on the other hand, was a late bloomer. I guess it took all of his [and our] energies to keep Jim in line. The real Ray didn't appear until after Jim was gone. He was constantly doing projects with different people, producing, playing with different poets. He always saw the good side of people, and that was his genius. He was the only guy at UCLA that saw something good about Jim. Everyone else thought of Jim as a phony or worse. He saw the genius of Jim's words and the rest is history. Ray sure did influence my life, and I hope yours to. I'll always be grateful to John for introducing me to Ray and Jim, and I'll never forget them.” - Robby Krieger, May 20, 2013 (via Facebook)
“There was no keyboard player on the planet more appropriate to support Jim Morrison's words. Ray, I felt totally in sync with you musically. It was like we were of one mind, holding down the foundation for Robby and Jim to float on top of. I will miss my musical brother.” - John Densmore, May 20, 2013 (via Facebook)
By Candice Wheeler
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