At night, during a recent weekend trip to the Utah desert, I listened to music of the Doors. I loved their music in the 60s and 70s, and I still enjoy it to this day. I really appreciate the eclectic sounds from Ray Manzarek’s keyboard and Jim Morrison’s opaque imagery and voice.
Unfortunately, on Monday May 20th, 2013, Manzarek died, at the age of 74. I must be getting old.
According to AP music writer Chris Talbot:
Manzarek founded the Doors after meeting then-poet Jim Morrison in California. The band went on to become one of the most successful rock ‘n’ roll acts to emerge from the 1960s and continues to resonate with fans decades after Morrison’s death brought an effective end to the band.
Doors were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Manzarek is among the most notable keyboard players in rock history. His lead-instrument work with the band at a time when the guitar often dominated added a distinct end-times flavor that matched Morrison’s often out there imagery and persona.
In my formative years, I purchased everyone of the Doors‘s albums, even the disappointing Soft Parade. I watched Oliver Stone’s movie The Doors (but I haven’t seen the recent documentary) and a few years ago, while in Paris, visited Morrison’s grave at the intriguing Pere Lachaise Cemetary.
While Morrison was the face of group, it is the keyboard work of Manzarek that I will always remember. I still enjoy listening to the long version of Light My Fire. The words are inane, but the keyboard work is truly memorable.
According to Steve Futterman, writing for “Milestones” in Time magazine (3 Jun 2013):
If the soul of the Doors was singer and resident pop shaman Jim Morrison, the musical architect of the legendary band was keyboardist Ray Manzarek. It was Manzarek’s swirling Vox Continental organ, as well as his imaginative use of piano, harpsichord and tack piano, that gave the group its mysterious sound on recordings. In performance, his keyboard bass–substituting for the accustomed bass guitar–further lent the Doors a distinctive texture.
The fact that Manzarek’s obit was the principal entry on June 3rd Time‘s “Milestones,” says a lot about the respect that the world has for Ray’s work.