Nick Morris ’15
Legendary keyboardist and co-founder of The Doors, Ray Manzarek, passed away in Rosenheim, Germany. He died last Monday night May 20, following a long struggle with bile duct cancer. Manzarek was known for his overwhelming abundance of creativity, as well as bringing a new element to rock music with his skillful playing and unique “organ” sound. Some of Manzarek’s most notable works include Doors’ songs which he co-wrote such as “Break On Through (To the Other Side)”, “The End”, “Riders on the Storm”, “Light My Fire”, “L.A. Woman”, “The Unknown Soldier”, and “When the Music’s Over”, among others.
Both film alumni at UCLA, Manzarek and lead singer Jim Morrison formed The Doors in July 1965 when they accidentally stumbled upon each other in Venice Beach, having been acquaintances at UCLA. Drummer John Densmore knew Manzarek from their meditation classes together, and he soon became part of The Doors. Guitarist Robby Krieger replaced Manzarek’s brothers for the position of guitarist in mid-1965. The Doors became famous locally, becoming the house band at the “Whiskey a Go Go”. The Doors then went on to become more and more famous throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, becoming the first American band to accumulate eight consecutive gold LPs. The Doors brought up controversial themes and the band was well-known for Morrison’s wild and unpredictable stage presence causing further controversy. The band was never the same after Jim Morrison’s death in 1971 caused by reasons unknown. There are rumors that he actually did not die, and Manzarek wrote about this idea in his 2001 story Poet in Exile touching upon a “what-if” scenario in which Morrison asks for his help 40 years after he faked his death. The band officially disbanded in 1973 after experimentation without Morrison proved to be a failure.
Aside from various reunions, Manzarek and Krieger began regularly touring, playing Doors songs as “Manzarek-Krieger” from 2001 until Manzarek’s death. Manzarek also had done a good deal of solo work from the end of The Doors until his death.