Rest in Peace, Ray Manzarek

Michael McClure (left) with Ray Manzarek (right)

Ray Manzarek, best known as the innovative keyboardist for The Doors, died Monday, May 20th, after a long battle with cancer. He was 74.

Manzarek and Jim Morrison formed The Doors in 1965, later recruiting John Densmore (drums) and Robby Krieger (guitar). Manzarek’s Vox Continental keyboard arrangements epitomized The Doors’ sound, setting the band apart from the rest of the psychedelic music scene in the mid-to-late Sixties. He also played bass parts on a Rhodes piano, accommodating for The Doors’ lack of a bass player. When The Doors broke up after Morrison’s death in 1971, Manzarek mounted several related projects, which were instrumental in keeping the band’s music and legacy in the public consciousness.

“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,” Robby Krieger said in a statement.

Manzarek also worked extensively with San Francisco Beat poet Michael McClure (pictured). The two recorded There’s a Word! and Love Lion, which capture some of their live performances together, while The Third Mind, a documentary film by Tyler Smith, focuses on their collaborations.

From his autobiography, Light My Fire:

I suppose if Jack Kerouac had never written On the Road, The Doors would never have existed. It opened the floodgates and we read everything we could get our hands on — Howl, Allen Ginsberg; Gasoline, Gregory Corso; A Coney Island of the Mind, Lawrence Ferlinghetti; Peyote Poem, Michael McClure…

All mind-benders, soul-twisters, heart-openers, foot-tappers, bone-crushers, eye-wideners… and general fine things. I suggest you read them all.