Ray Manzarek, founding member of The Doors, dies at 74

RIP Ray Manzarek

Thank you for your music, your wisdom and for helping us all break on through to the other side.

Ray Manzarek, a founding member of 1960s rock group The Doors has died at the age of 74, the group's manager Tom Vitorino has said.

Keyboardist Manzarek died in Rosenheim, Germany, following a battle with bile duct cancer, the band said in a statement.

Singer Jim Morrison and Manzarek formed The Doors in 1965 after a chance meeting at Los Angeles' Venice Beach, and Manzarek's keyboard work would go on to be a touchstone of hits like "Break On Through to the Other Side" and "Light My Fire."

"I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and bandmate Ray Manzarek today," The Doors guitarist Robby Krieger said in a statement.

"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, who was born in Chicago in 1939, is survived by his wife, Dorothy, two brothers, a son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren.

He died surrounded by his wife and brothers in a clinic in Rosenheim, Germany.

“There was no keyboard player on the planet more appropriate to support Jim Morrison’s words,” Densmore told Twitter followers after the news of Manzarek’s death broke. “Ray, I felt totally in sync with you musically. It was like we were of one mind, holding down the foundation for Robby and Jim to float on top of. I will miss my musical brother.”

Densmore’s eulogy was particularly poignant, given that he’d been feuding with Manzarek and their fellow surviving Door, guitarist Robby Krieger, for more than a decade following a contentious disagreement over licensing the band’s music for advertising — and Manzarek and Krieger’s subsequent decision to start touring as the Doors with Cult singer Ian Astbury subbing in for Jim Morrison.

The Doors sold more than a hundred million album worldwide. Singer Jim Morrison died in 1971 aged 27 in Paris of a suspected heart failure. 

Manzarek’s jazz- and classical-inspired organ playing was a giant part of the Doors’ sound — imagine hits like ‘Light My Fire’ without it — and even after the band went kaput in 1971 following Morrison’s death, he remained a towering figure, recording solo material, writing books and working with younger bands, most notably L.A. punk luminaries X and British Doors disciples Echo and the Bunnymen. Also collaborated with Beat poet Michael McClure.


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