Doors Founding Member, Keyboardist Ray Manzarek Dies

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If you've ever heard the organ in The Door's hit "Light My Fire," you've heard Ray Manzarek play, even if you never knew his name.

Credit Image: © Globe Photos/

The band's founding member and keyboardist, Manzarek died in Germany yesterday at 74 after a long fight with bile duct cancer.

A chance conversation about music with eventual lead singer Jim Morrison on a beach in Venice, California led to the formation of the band that would become famous upon the 1967 release of debut album The Doors, and remain so long after Morrison's death in 1971.

Manzarek recounted his immediate connection with Morrison and belief in what they would accomplish together in many interviews, including this one in 2000 with NPR:

"We were aware of Muddy Waters. We were aware of Howlin' Wolf and John Coltrane and Miles Davis. Plus, Jan and Dean and The Beach Boys and the surf sound. Robby Krieger brings in some flamenco guitar. I bring a little bit of classical music along with the blues and jazz, and certainly John Densmore was heavy into jazz. And Jim brings in beatnik poetry and French symbolist poetry, and that's the blend of The Doors as the sun is setting into the Pacific Ocean at the end, the terminus of Western civilization. That's the end of it. Western civilization ends here in California at Venice Beach, so we stood there inventing a new world on psychedelics."


The Doors carried on for a few years after Morrison's death, but broke up in 1973. Manzarek's publicist released a statement today, speaking of his prolific work in music and writing since then:

Manzarek went on to become a best-selling author, and a Grammy-nominated recording artist in his own right. In 2002, he revitalized his touring career with Doors' guitarist and long-time collaborator, Robby Krieger. "I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and bandmate Ray Manzarek today," said Krieger. "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 and Krieger continued to tour until late 2012.

The Doors' official Facebook page noted tonight that several Hollywood clubs would honor Manzarek.

Tonight, Monday May 20th, The Whisky A Go Go, The Roxy, The Viper Room and The House Of Blues on The Sunset Strip will all dim their lights at 9:31PM PDT in honor of Ray Manzarek. Ray sadly passed away last night in Germany at 9:31PM.

The Doors got their first break as house band at Whisky a Go Go shortly after they formed.

Manzarek told Billboard in 2006 that he never expected The Doors to have the impact they did , but the fans were responsible.

Hardly, but on the other hand, that's not [a musician's] concern. I don't think musicians play music thinking in terms of posterity. It's just the opposite. You have to think in that individual moment in time, the Zen moment in time. And if you capture the energy, then you do what a musician is supposed to do. If by the grace of the gods on Mount Olympus you happen to be liked 40 years from now, that's only a testament to the Doors' audience as far as I'm concerned.


Manzarek's family has requested that donations in his memory be made to .


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