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Ray Manzarek of the Doors dies at 74

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Ray Manzarek Dead: (one of) The Doors Founding Members Dies At 74


Ray Manzarek, most known as a founding member of the '60s rock band The Doors, is dead. According to a message posted on the the bands facebook page, Manzarek died of bile duct cancer while in Rosenheim, Germany, on Monday, May 20. He was 74. Wife Dorothy Manzarek and brothers Rick and James were by his side.



Ray Manzarek was the highly influential and and innovative keyboardist for the Doors in the late sixties/early seventies.

The following clips show Manzarek's use of the organ in "Light My Fire" and the electric piano in "Riders on the Storm".

When so many bands were power trios, the Doors and others showed that if you were innovative in their use, keyboards could and did add serious depth and strength to any line up.

RIP Ray. You will be missed.



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God, that's awful. One of the greatest rock keyboardists of all time, a hugely important contributor to the sound of all the Doors' hits. And also an extremely articulate, literate, passionate, well-spoken man.

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I believe Ray was the one who held the band together, especially during live performances. In the years after '71 and Jim Morrison's death there were a lot of interviews in the aftermath of that shock, wish I could find some of them now to show you.

Of course there was drug use and with it came Morrison's outlandish behavior (I had a crush on him when I was in high school). I think it was Ray who said that they all went on stage a little afraid because they never knew what Morrison would do and there were times when the vocals just stopped because he was spaced out and the band had to fill in the spaces with adlibbed music. Vamp 'til ready...but it gave us some of the best instrumental solos.

Gotta love that 60's music and the tight pants. The Doors were an awesome band.

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One thing I'll always remember is how Ray would passionately defend Jim Morrison's memory from people who criticized him. Manzarek was particularly critical of Oliver Stone's 1992 film biopic, with scenes that showed Morrison flipping out on college professors and quitting school, and also a scene where the singer went nuts during a recording session when he found out that a Doors song had been used in a TV commercial, and smashed the TV and left the studio.

Manzarek claimed <paraphrasing>: "Not only did Jim not quit school, he was a favorite of the professors there at UCLA film school and graduated with honors. He never stormed out of a class -- he enjoyed school and got along with everybody. As far as the commercial goes, we all approved putting our songs in TV commercials. Jim thought it was hilarious, a way to subversively expose our music to all kinds of white collar families and housewives in middle America. We never had a TV set on during a recording session, and Jim certainly never smashed a TV in a studio."

So a lot of Morrison's temper tantrums and mood swings were amped up for the film. Ray did say that Morrison had his demons, but mainly said his problems were more in just showing up late to rehearsals and concerts, and also being drunk a lot in the last year or so they were together. Unfortunately, the truth apparently wasn't interesting enough for the film.

Note also in the film that when they went on the Ed Sullivan Show, they did sing all the words to "Light My Fire" (the infamous "girl we couldn't get much... higher" line). But in real life, Jim Morrison looked down at the floor and kind of muttered the words on the live show. In the film, actor Val Kilmer defiantly looked right into the camera and sang it very loudly... which again, is not at all what really happened.

I always admired Ray Manzarek for wanting to make sure that the true story was told, and that people understood both the good side and the bad side of Morrison. And Manzarek was always very interesting and articulate when he told that story, tirelessly, in many hundreds of interviews over the past 40 years.

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