May 20, 2013

"I’d never heard lyrics to a rock song like that before."

"We talked a while before we decided to get a group together and make a million dollars."

When Jim Morrison first read his song lyrics to Ray Manzarek.
Outwardly the two seemed so different. The strikingly tall, dark and handsome Morrison looked the part of rock star, while Manzarek, with glasses and comparatively close-cropped blonde hair, retained a more professorial look.
Ray Manzarek has died of bile duct cancer at the age of 74. Manzarek was the keyboardist for their group, The Doors, and if you know any keyboard riff from that era, you know his.


Bob_R said...

First song I learned to play in a rock band was Light My Fire. One of my friends in seventh grade was an excellent organist, and the band needed a bassist...I'm not actually that big a Doors fan, because I was much more a Manzerek fan than a Morrison fan. Light My Fire will always mean a lot to me.

Cedarford said...

My Dad is more musically inclined than I am.
One of his themes is that many of the good bands rely on their identity from a really good, unique player/composer more than the frontman or frontwoman. The Rolling Stones owe more to Keith Richard than Jagger in his view, the Door unique sound more to Manzerek.

Methadras said...

RIP Ray. One of my favorite musicians in one of my favorite bands ever. The first time I ever got high was when a doors song was playing on the radio in my friends car. Good times back then. Then I grew up.

edutcher said...

Never had heard of the guy, but sounds like a bad way to go.

Hope he had fun while could.

Unknown said...

While attending film school at UCLA, I encountered Mr. Morrison smoking a joint in the hallway. A couple of months later, he was dead. At 50, needing some extra money, I took a night job at the Coffee Bean in Redondo Beach, and worked with Ray Manzarek's nephew. Nice guy.

bagoh20 said...

" Then I grew up."

You have my condolences.

Manzarek seemed to stay fun, engaged and interested all the way through, even in his 70s. I enjoyed the guy every time I heard him speak or play.

Methadras said...

bagoh20 said...

" Then I grew up."

You have my condolences.

Manzerek seemed to stay fun, engaged and interested all the way through, even in his 70s. I enjoyed the guy every time I heard him speak or play.

He was the spine of the group. I felt the same way about him. He was always thoughtful and provocative and was always trying to be creative while not hanging onto his past so much.

virgil xenophon said...

Ray is personally responsible for reinforcing my belief that the end is indeed neigh. One night in SoCal circa 2009/10 I was lying in bed in limbo trans-like listening to indie alt rock on the local stations when I heard him flacking a MADD-sponsored anti-drunk-driving PSA. A guy like him from one of the most drunked-up, drugged-up bands in history NOW doing MADD PSAs!!!??? Holy shit! I thought...the END is obviously just around the corner! LOL.

Petunia said...

Aw, that's too bad. Seventy-one is too young.

Petunia said...

So is 74! Sorry.

Dad said...

"C'mon, baby, light my fire.
C'mon, baby, light my fire.
Try to set the night on fire!"

"Hello, I love you, won't you tell me your name.
Hello, I love you, let me jump in your game."

And who could forget the sublime "Riders on the Storm"?

What lyrics!

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

Very sad. The Doors got me through the (musically) bleak and passionless years of the mid-seventies. And then I heard the first Clash album!

chickelit said...

The Doors fell apart after Morrison died. Who can forget that awful track You Need Meat which they tried to pass off as Morrison singing (it's Manzarek).

I just had a flashback of hitchhiking in Italy with my girlfriend. A truck driver picked us up and I remember he was listening to one of those post-Morrison Doors albums released after Jim's death. It sounded familiar yet different and I had never heard it before. Ray Manzarek sang lead on those albums.

Just 9 years after The Doors, Manzarek was back producing the band "X", Los Angeles punk act which I came to like.

He rode the post-Morrison decline pretty well and as far as I know cooperated with all the idolatry (books, films) which came later and which kept the albums selling. Hell, I just bought collector's editions of their first two albums because there are lots of bonus songs and truncated takes and some fully restored songs which had deleted Morrison's potty mouth lyrics.

RIP, Mr. Manzarek

Oso Negro said...

Break on through, Ray.

Oso Negro said...

Break on through, Ray.

Anonymous said...

I stick by my "Yoko-Ono-joins-The-Doors-after-Morrison's-Death" screed(s) of a week or two back..

Broken Glass Crystal Ships Forever.

Anonymous said...

Danny Sugerman's "Wonderland Avenue": a great read, even if not a Doors' fan. Him trying to get Iggy Pop to front the Doors is not the best of its Magic, but a Good Part of It.

I've bought the paperback three times -- all copies now lent indefinitely to Friends.

Basically, a "Catcher in the Rye" for the Youth of the Seventies. I bet you can buy it through the Althouse Portal.


Worth it.

Anonymous said...

I hope I got that right, portally.

Anonymous said...

Quote from above:

Call the cab company Tiffany, and get one over here as fast as possible,’
We got Iggy into a bathrobe, stuck a pack of Camel filterless in the breast pocket, and when the cab pulled up, carried him outside. He still wasn’t coherent enough to disagree……..

‘Just drive’ I told him, ‘All you have to do is drive him.’
‘Where to?’
‘Anywhere,’ I said. ‘North’ I handed him a hundred dollar bill. ‘Go as far North as this will take you, stop fifteen, twenty bucks short, and then shove him out wherever you are.’ I stuck another fifty in with Iggy’s cigarettes. Enough to help him, but not enough to allow him to return too far too soon.

The driver gave me an odd look, but he took the money and started off in the general direction of the San Fernando mountains. Two days later at 5:00am, we were awakened by a furious banging on the front door. ‘Oh who the fuck can that be?’ I wondered.
Tiffany contributed a typical positive thought ‘one of your asshole friends, no doubt.’
‘Ssssshhh, listen’ I said to her. We both began giggling.
Someone was outside screaming: ‘I don’t think it’s funny; I’m not laughing, let me in, goddammit! Open this goddamn door!’
Iggy had come home."

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TMink said...

Ray worked those minor thirds. There music is so interesting, some is timeless, and some hopelessly dated. Jim was cool, no doubt, but I also always loved the band.

RIP Ray, thanks for the great tunes.


Ernst Stavro Blofeld said...

You can hear a lot of Manzarek/The Doors in X's "Nausea".

Ernst Stavro Blofeld said...

Ray Manzarek in the studio with X laying down "White Girl."

Kirk Parker said...


"the Door's unique sound [owes] more to Manzarek [than to Morrison]"

For sure, but it's a mistake to give Manzarak solo honors in this regard; Robby Krieger's style and sound on the electric guitar really contributed to the Doors' unique sound, too.

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gerry said...

Bile duct cancer. Poor man!

Chuck said...

Professor Althouse;

Did you see the Doors (before they had become international superstars) playing the student dance in Ann Arbor when you were an undergrad? It was held at the Old Intramural Building, and a young Jim Osterberg (n/k/a Iggy Pop) was in attendance.

Reportedly, the band came out and Morrison was so totally wrecked that the band couldn't even play anything. The crowd was rightfully furious. They took a long break, and a lot of people left, in anger. When they came back, Morrsion had sobered up, and the band played a good set.

Iggy has said that was the night he decided what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.