Founding member of The Doors, Ray Manzarek, passed away on Monday at age 74. After a long battle with cancer, he leaves behind a legacy and permanent imprint on music history.
Ray Manzarek, keyboardist and founding member of The Doors, passed away on Monday in Rosenheim, Germany, at age 74. He had been diagnosed with bile duct cancer for some time. Without a doubt his contribution to music and cultural impact is a testimony to the life he lived.
Born and raised in Chicago, Ray moved to Los Angeles in 1962 to study film at UCLA. Iconic founding member of The Doors, the late Jim Morrison, was studying at UCLA during that same time. It wasn’t until a chance meeting on Venice Beach, California, that Morrison and Manzarek talked about creating the band. In his 1998 biography Light My Fire, Ray wrote, “It dropped quite simply, quite innocently from his lips, but it changed our collective destinies.” Morisson and Manzarek were a perfect combination with Jim’s explosive poetry and Ray’s classically-trained and out of the box melodies.
Band members came to included drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger. The quartet of musicians were able to work synchronously and deliver a fresh, authentic sound. After a now-legendary gig at the Whisky-a-Go-Go on the Sunset Strip, the band was signed by Elektra Records. Within a year The Doors released their first album with Elektra which included the legendary Rock & Roll hit “Light My Fire.” Their ambitious follow up album Strange Days in 1967 proved the band to be a powerful force in the rock music movement.
The Doors went on to sell 100 million albums worldwide, along with 19 gold, 14 platinum and 5 multi-platinum awards in the US. Their body of work includes chart-topping songs, six studio albums and a live album. After Morrison’s death in 1971 the band recorded two final albums together, splitting up in 1973.
Ray went on to tour with Iggy Pop and other legendary artists, post-Doors era. Along with touring and film-making he produced music for groups like Los Angeles band X, which still remains a staple in the punk rock movement. In 1993, The Doors were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and in 2002 Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek reunited under the name The Doors of the 21st Century. The band name revision came after legal battles with drummer John Densmore over the use of The Doors.
In a recent project with popular Dubstep artist Skrillex, the remaining members of The Doors partnered up for the “Regeneration Music Project.” The project follows the musical collaboration of Robby, Ray and John. Skrillex’s modern-electro soundscapes and the expansive musical genius of The Doors, made for an unlikely, yet perfect combination. The making of “Breaking a Sweat” depicts the child-like eagerness of Ray Manzarek and the brotherly music partnership between himself and guitarist Robby Krieger.
Robby released a statement today saying, “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.”
Ray is survived by his wife Dorothy, his son Pablo, and three grandchildren. The family asks that those wishing to pay their respect’s please send a donation in Ray Manzarek’s name to StandUp2Cancer.org