Joining Jim Morrison in the next world: Ray Manzarek dead at 74
Ray Mazerek, long-time keyboard player, writer, producer and part of the iconic American underground band the Doors, passed away at 74. He died in Rosenheim, Germany, after a long battle with bile duct cancer.
Joining with the only drummer and guitar player they knew, John Densmore and Robby Krieger, the four found many opportunities to play in the burgeoning Los Angeles music scene of the mid-60’s. By 1966, they had taken their name from the Aldous Huxley book “The Doors of Perception.” This book described experiences and experiments with psychedelic substances. That year they recorded their self-titled first record with Elektra Records.
Since the band never found a permanent bassist, Ray wrote and played most of the bass lines to their music on the low end keys of his Fender Rhodes piano. The Doors’ were recognizable by the sound of his Vox Continental organ. The most well-known and enduring example is the introductory riffs to their first hit single, “Light My Fire.” The four held song-writing credits equally on almost all their songs, and reportedly evenly divided the revenues from their recordings.
After the Doors released four well-received albums, Jim Morrison died while living in Paris in July, 1971. The Doors recorded two records without him, but then the band broke up in 1973.
Ray Manzarek stayed very relevant and worked with many new artists considered part of the punk and new wave tides of music in the late 70’s and 1980’s. He produced records for X and played with Iggy Pop, Echo and the Bunnymen and many other acts.
Ray Manzarek will be remembered as an innovator of popular music for more than three decades, and a seminal influence on the music still popular today.