As you may have heard, yesterday Ray Manzarek, the keyboardist and founding member of The Doors, died at age 74 after a long bout with cancer. Co-creator of some of the most recognizable songs of the 20th century, Manzarek cemented his legacy with long solos and grabbing intros on a number of Doors songs.
The quasi-Baroque introduction Mr. Manzarek brought to the Doors’ 1967 single “Light My Fire“ — a song primarily written by Mr. Krieger — helped make it a million-seller. Along with classical music, Mr. Manzarek also drew on jazz, R&B, cabaret and ragtime. His main instrument was the Vox Continental electric organ, which he claimed to have chosen, [Manager Tom] Vitorino said, because it was “easy to carry.”
The Doors’ four-man lineup did not include a bass player; onstage, Mr. Manzarek supplied the bass lines with his left hand, using a Fender Rhodes piano bass, though the band’s studio recordings often added a bassist.
After the death of lead singer Jim Morrison in 1971, Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger, the Doors guitarist, tried to continue on without Morrison, only to disband. The two eventually reunited to tour in 2002. Krieger, the son of Orthodox Jews, said this about Manzarek yesterday.
“I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and bandmate Ray Manzarek today. 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.”
More pointedly summing up the legacy of The Doors, Ron Kampeas of the JTA tweeted this gem yesterday:
Creem circa 1977 said Jim Morrison 10 yrs after “The Doors” sounded like an a**hole but Ray Manzarek’s keyboards stood up. #RIP