May 20, 2013

Remembering The Doors Ray Manzarek (1939-2013)

                    "when the music's over............"

This is a sad day as Ray Manzarek of the Doors has passed away from complications of bile duct cancer in Germany. Manzarek was 74 years old. He is survived by his wife of forty years Dorothy, a son & three grand children.

Raymond Daniel Manzarek was born on February 12th 1939, in the south side of Chicago. He originally wanted to play basketball but only in the forward position. In high school when he was told he had to play at guard or not at all, he quit the team. He later claimed there would have been no Doors if not given that ultimatum.

Manzarek took piano lessons as a boy & later was in some local bands with his two brothers, most notably Ray & the Ravens.

Manzarek attended DePaul University, earning a degree in economics. He then went West, to UCLA Film school in the Department of Cinematography & his life changed. There he met Dorothy Fujikawa whom he would eventually marry & be with the rest of his life.

It was also there, he first met Jim Morrison. A month after classes had ended, Ray was meditating on Venice Beach. Jim Morrison whom, Ray thought had gone to New York, came walking up the beach. The two began to talk about what they had been up to & Morrison said he had written some songs. When he sang what was to be Moonlight Drive: "Lets swim to the Moon, Lets climb through the tide" to Manzarek, he said said lets start a rock band. The Doors were born.

Through Manzarek's  meditation classes came drummer John Densmore & guitarist Robbie Krieger. The band soon practiced at a beach house, rented by Manzarek on Venice Beach. Their first gig was on the Sunset Strip at a low keyed club called the London Fog. Manzarek has said, it was there that the band perfected the Doors sound, since no one was in the audience.

Soon, the band were booked at The Whiskey A Go-Go, the main club on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood. The Doors shows became legendary, as did their dark, erotic, mysterious music with the outrageous lyrics.

Ray Manzarek was the bands keyboard / piano player. His Vox Continental organ, was his signature sound for the Doors music & probably the most distinct instrument of the three. The band had no steady bass player & most bass parts, were played by Manzarek on his fender Rhodes piano. He would play bass parts with his left hand or on foot pedals. Ray Manzarek was an incredible musician. Together with Densmore's jazz/rock drumming & Krieger's flamenco/rock n roll style of guitar playing, the Doors were the perfect backdrop to front man Jim Morrison's words.

The Doors success began with their self titled first album in 1967. They were the first band to have a billboard to promote their album. It reached #2 on the charts & has gone five times platinum since. It was the first in their string of seven top ten albums as a band.

Their third album Waiting For the Sun, reached number one in 1968 & has been certified platinum since. All six original Doors studio albums have gone platinum as well. Four of their live albums have also gone Gold. Their last album; L.A. Woman, has been certified two times platinum. on it's own. All in all, The Doors have sold over 100 million records & still sell over one million records a year.

The Doors have become one of the most successful rock bands of all time, finding a new popularity with every generation since the sixties.

(this is a tribute to Ray Manzarek- so I'll keep the Doors & Morrison history brief)

As for Manzarek as a singer, he would occasionally if the dark side of Jim Morrison showed up (which Ray called Jimbo) & was unable to out on stage. Manzarek sang lead vocal on the Doors song  Close To You, from Absolutely Live (1970). He also sang lead on Love Her Madly's B-side- You Need Meat (Don't Go No Further).

After the death of Jim Morrison in 1971, the three remaining Doors released Other Voices & Full Circle in which Manzarek did some more vocals. Since then, he has played with Nite City, Philip Glass, X, Echo & the Bunneymen, Iggy Pop as well as backing beat poet; Michael McClure.

Manzarek reunited with the Doors Robbie Krieger in the 21st Century Doors (2002) & Manzarek-Krieger since 2003.

Manzarek has helped keep the Doors legacy alive with his great story telling in interviews, his book Light My Fire (My Life With The Doors) and the collaboration of post Doors musical releases. These include the Bright Midnight Concert Series', The Doors Box sets & the When Your Strange movie/album in 2009. Manzarek was very outspoken & critical of the Doors 1991 Oliver Stone movie.

Quotes: Manzarek told Rolling Stone in 2006: "Morrison required all three of us diving into his lyrics and creating music that would swirl around him. Without Jim, everybody started shooting off in different directions. The Doors was the perfect mixture of four guys, four egos that balanced each other. But after Jim died the whole dynamic was screwed up, because the fourth guy wasn't there."



In July 1981, on the tenth Anniversary of Jim Morrison's death, the surviving Doors visited the gravesite together. In 2011 on the 40th anniversary of Jim's death, Manzarek & Krieger revisited Jim's grave once again.

Manzarek continued to live in Hollywood for most of his post Doors life. More recently he had moved North, to Napa Valley.

Doors' guitarist Robby Krieger released a statement saying, "I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and band mate Ray Manzarek. 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."

          "music is your only friend, until the end......"


No comments: