Sad news tonight for rock fans: The Doors’ keyboard player Ray Manzarek died on Monday after a long battle with bile duct cancer. Manzarek brought jazz influences to The Doors’ brand of dark, poetic rock and held down most of the bass duties on stage and in the studio – playing a keyboard bass with his left hand and an organ or electric piano with his right. Manzarek had a jovial, engaging persona, but was also known for his controversial and obstinate relations with his surviving bandmates and the band’s music. In this Los Angeles Times article, Doors drummer John Densmore remembers his friend:
“There was no keyboard player on the planet more appropriate to support Jim Morrison’s words,” Densmore said through a spokeswoman. “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.”
For me Ray was an invaluable contributor to a band that I consider to be America’s greatest. The Doors were massively popular, but their influence was outrageously deep. It’s no exaggeration to say “No Doors, no punk rock.” Their songs are among the most original and moving of those of their peers, and are now considered to be timeless classics. Their live shows – inspired and infuriating – were the stuff of legend.
Smooth sailing, Ray. One more passenger on the Crystal Ship.
A thousand girls, a thousand thrills
A million ways to spend your time
When we get back
I’ll drop a line