Ray Manzarek from The Doors Has Died

Ray Manzarek, along with Jim Morrison, Robby Krieger, and John Densmore was a founding member of The Doors. He has passed away at the age of 74.

Ray Manzarek
Ray Manzarek in 2009
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The official website of The Doors is reporting that Ray died at 12:31PM PT at the RoMed Clinic in Rosenheim, Germany after a lengthy illness with bile duct cancer.

It's not often that we write about a keyboard player here on GuitarSite.com, but Ray Manzarek's contribution to Rock was phenomenal.

His trademark sound was a blaring, and sometimes distorted, Vox Continental organ pumping out through Leslie rotating speakers creating the Doppler effect, while at the same time playing the bass lines with his left hand on a Rhodes electric piano.

The following video shows live scenes of The Doors playing "Riders On The Storm" in Toronto in 1967 with the sound taken from their studio recording in 1970. Ray Manzarek said this was the last song recorded by the band with Jim Morrison.

With the 1991 release of Oliver Stone's movie The Doors, the band became huge all over again as a new generation discovered them and their music.

The Doors sold over 100,000,000 albums world wide and had 19 Gold, 14 Platinum, and five multi-Platinum albums in the United States.

Despite their success, and perhaps due to the controversy that often surrounded the band, and their lead singer Jim Morrison in particular, it wasn't until after The Doors had disbanded that the music industry recognition they deserved began to flow.

Here are some of their awards listed at Wikipedia:

  • In 1993, The Doors were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
  • In 1998, "Light My Fire" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame under the category Rock (track).
  • In 2000, The Doors were ranked number 32 on VH1's 100 Greatest Hard Rock Artists, and "Light My Fire" was ranked number seven on VH1's Greatest Rock Songs.
  • In 2002, The Doors was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame under the category Rock (Album).
  • In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked The Doors number 41 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
  • In 2007, The Doors received a lifetime achievement award at the 2007 Grammy Awards.
  • In 2007, The Doors received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
  • In 2009, "Riders On The Storm" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame under the category Rock (track).
  • The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine includes three studio albums by The Doors; The Doors at number 42, L.A. Woman at number 362 and Strange Days at number 407.
  • The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine includes two songs by The Doors: "Light My Fire" at number 35 and "The End" at number 328.
  • The Doors were ranked number 20 on VH1's list of the 100 Greatest Artists of Rock and Roll.
  • They would become the first American band to accumulate eight consecutive gold and platinum LPs.
  • The Recording Academy announced the 2010 Grammy Hall Of Fame Inductees, including The Doors' Riders On The Storm.
  • In 2011, The Doors received a Grammy Award in Best Long Form Music Video for the film, When You're Strange, directed by Tom DiCillo.

"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."

He is survived by his wife Dorothy, two brothers, son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren.

More information about the life and career of Ray Manzarek is available at Wikipedia.

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Ray Manzarek and Me

I tend to get a bit bored when someone writing an article makes it about themselves instead of about the real subject of the story - so I left this bit for the comments section...

The Doors were a massive influence on my own music and musical experience, despite the fact the Jim Morrison died about a year before I was born.

Sure, for a while when I was about 17 I took my lyrical and physical imagery from Jim Morrison (as in my high school yearbook photo), but I took the musical side from Ray Manzarek.

Like the time I spent several days programming, and re-programming the bass sounds on an Ensoniq ESQ-1 which we were to use on an upcoming demo recording. The reason it took me so long is because at the heart of the matter, I couldn't decide if I was trying to make an organic bass sound, or if I was trying to make something that sounded like Ray Manzarek playing live.

Or like the time I spent weeks trying to learn to play minim triplets on the toms while simultaneously playing a solid 4/4 on the kick, not because I was a drummer (which I wasn't), but because I just wanted to conquer a feat that Ray pulled off effortlessly on keyboards.

Or like the time when my band, which included Daniel - the other co-founder of Hitsquad (the business that publishes GuitarSite.com), recorded its first (and only) single and we brought in an extra musician - an organist running his sound through a distortion pedal into Leslie speakers.

Or like the many times our band went to see a Doors tribute show band, who probably had a better live sound than the technology The Doors had access to could have afforded them.

And on my instrument of choice, nylon stringed guitar, where I developed a playing style which resembled Ray's organ playing more than it did the style of any particular guitarist.

As musicians we all have influences, and those we outright steal from. Even The Doors lifted their US hit "Hello I love You" from The Kinks UK hit "All Day and All of the Night".

One of my greatest sources of plunder was The Doors - which in effect meant Ray Manzarek who was what I think of as the 'musical director' of the band.

Ray Manzarek - one of the best.

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