On May 20th, 2013, Raymond Daniel Manzarek, one of the founding members of the seminal psychedelic rock group, The Doors, passed away at the age of 74 after fighting a long battle with bile duct cancer. Ray was the official mouthpiece of The Doors, championing his group every chance he got. And with good reason. The Doors were, in my opinion, the most important rock band to come out of 1960’s and that’s saying a lot when you consider the other acts that were around at the time: Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, the list could go on and on and not that I’m taking anything away from these other artists listed. Indeed, they we’re important in shaping that era, and on a larger scale, music in general, but the difference between those acts and The Doors was that The Doors were the total package, and Ray Manzarek left a legacy in today’s music (Sublime sampled Manzarek’s organ part from the song “When The Music’s Over” in their song “Cisco Kid” off of their 1994 album, Robbin’ The Hood; Jay-Z sampled The Doors classic, “Five To One” in his song, “Takeover” on his 2001 album, The Blueprint. In 2009 Ray played the organ music from “When The Music’s Over” on a “Weird Al” Yankovic parody titled “Craigslist” In the purposely psychedelic video for the song, Yankovic is giving us his best Morrison impression. “Weird Al” will never be Jim Morrison, but he gets an ‘A’ for effort).
The Doors were, in my opinion, the most important rock band to come out of 1960’s
Even after Jim Morrison’s death on July 3rd, 1971, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, and John Densmore released two more Doors albums (1971’s Other Voices and 1972’s Full Circle) with Ray taking over lead vocal duties. Neither album was as successful as the other albums in their catalog, but it just goes to show you, once music gets in your system, you can’t help but heed its call whenever it moves you to do so. Needless to say, the band disbanded in 1973.
once music gets in your system, you can’t help but heed its call whenever it moves you to do so.
After the dissolution of The Doors, Ray Manzarek, ever the restless soul, went on to perform for groups such as, Nite City. In 1980 he played bass for and produced the debut album, Los Angeles for punk band, X. He also backed the band, Echo and the Bunnymen on their 1987 self-titled album playing keyboard on the song “Bedbugs and Ballyhoo” (The 2003 reissue of this album featured tracks not released on the original. One of the featured tracks was a cover of The Doors’ Soul Kitchen, on which Ray did not perform. Also in 1987, Echo and the Bunnymen recorded another Doors song, this time choosing People Are Strange, which was also produced by Ray and was included in 1987’s The Lost Boys soundtrack. Below, I have included the official music video of People Are Strange by The Doors)
Always one to keep the lifeblood of The Doors music alive and kicking, Ray Manzarek, Doors guitarist, Robby Krieger, and Doors percussionist, John Densmore reunited countless times since Morrison’s passing. The first time was in 1978 when the then three remaining members got together to provide backing music for some of Jim Morrison’s poetry which he had recorded between the years 1969-1970 for what was to be the group’s ninth and final studio album titled, An American Prayer. In 2000, the then-remaining Doors reunited for one last live performance for VH1 Storytellers. For this performance, The Doors recruited guest vocalists to fill in for Jim.
Ray Manzarek was and always will be remembered not only for being a founding member of The Doors, but also for the treasure chest of music he left behind. His music has transcended genres and more than anything else, Ray was always cutting edge because no matter where the music scene was going, he was always there to greet it. Case in point, in 2011 Ray, Robby, and John collaborated with up and coming deejay, Skrillex to record the song, “Breakin’ A Sweat” for the music documentary RE:GENERATION. Years will advance, new forms of music will come into being, but one thing that will remain true is that Ray Manzarek and the music he helped create is and always will be immortal, just like the man himself. Rest in peace Ray. It seems you finally broke on through to the other side.
Ray was always cutting edge because no matter where the music scene was going, he was always there to greet it…Rest in peace Ray. It seems you finally broke on through to the other side.
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