Turn it up: "Riders on the Storm."
Ray Manzarek, the keyboardist who started The Doors with Jim Morrison after they were film students at UCLA, died last night at a clinic in Rosenheim, Germany. Manzarek had been sick for several months with cancer of the bile ducts, his publicist said in a statement. His wife, Dorothy, and his brothers, Rick and James, were at his bedside, the New York Times says. “I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and bandmate Ray Manzarek today,” Doors guitarist Robby Krieger said in a statement. “I’m just glad to have been able to have played Doors songs with him for the last decade. Ray was a huge part of my life and I will always miss him.” Manzarek's website has gone dark except for the nice portrait below.
Manzarek and Morrison reconnected by chance at Venice Beach 1965, after UCLA, and decided to launch The Doors. Manzarek brought in Krieger and drummer John Densmore, and the band began playing clubs on Sunset Strip such as the Whisky A Go Go. "The Doors were among the most intense and revolutionary bands of the Sixties (or any decade, for that matter). The impact of their meteoric career has resonated far beyond their brief half-decade as a recording and performing entity. Their words and music captured the Sixties zeitgeist with undeniable power," says the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Their music combined classical elocution with jazzy improvisation and infused heady psychedelic rock with the earthiness of the blues. As Manzarek put it in a 1997 interview: “We just combined the Apollonian and the Dionysian. The Dionysian side is the blues, and the Apollonian side is classical music. The proper artist combines Apollonian rigor and correctness with Dionysian frenzy, passion and excitement. You blend those two together, and you have the complete, whole artist.” Quite obviously, the Doors were no ordinary group. Thirty years earlier, in the group’s original bio, Manzarek had listed his “hobbies” as “projecting the feel of the future.”
After The Doors, Manzarek continued to perform and produced records for the Los Angeles band X, among others. He lived recently in Northern California. His memoir, "Light My Fire: My Life with The Doors," was published in 1998. Morrison died in 1971 and is buried in Paris.
10:20 p.m. Update: Sunset Strip clubs the Whisky, the Roxy, the Viper Room and the House Of Blues dimmed the lights at 9:31 p.m. to honor Manzarek, per music journalist Chris Morris.
Below, Manzarek discusses the creation of The Doors' song "Riders on the Storm" on "Mr. Mojo Risin': The Story of L.A. Woman."
Photo of Manzarek and Morrison, via Boing Boing. Manzarek alone from his website.