February 12, 1939- May 20, 2013
Ray Manzarek, keyboardist for the legendary rock band The Doors, had died today in Rosenheim, Germany Manzarek was 74 years old. As for cause of death, Manzarek had been battling with bile duct cancer for some time.
Manzarek is best known for being one fourth of the American rock band the Doors. Manzarek and singer Jim Morrison met in UCLA, both studying film. The two became fast friends and after Morrison sang what would become "Moonlight Drive", Manzarek insisted they form a band. Along with guitarist Robbie Krieger and drummer John Densmore, the Doors were formed in 1965. The band's classic self-titled debut put them on the map thanks to the #1 hit single, "Light My Fire". As a keyboardist, Manzarek was quite different from others. The Doors never had a bassist and this was because the bass was coming from Manzarek's bass organ. His double-decker styled keyboards would become one of the many things that made the Doors what they were.
After Morrison's sudden death in 1971, the band continued on as a three-piece band and released two studio albums. In 1973, the band split. Manzarek would go on to have a solo career as well as produce the first four studio albums of Los Angeles punk rockers, X. Manzarek would occasionally reunite with his former bandmates in the Doors, first in 1978 for the American Prayer album and later in 2002 sans Densmore. Densmore filed a lawsuit against Manzarek and Krieger, barring use of the Doors name. Densmore and Morrison's estate won and Manzarek and Krieger were left performing as Riders on the Storm and later as the Manzarek-Krieger Band.
I'm very saddened by the passing of Ray. The Doors are my favorite American band and Ray has always been my favorite keyboardist. I was lucky enough to see Riders on the Storm in 2008, and Ray was just hilarious. In documentaries, I liked hearing him talk about Jim and share all sorts of stories. He was a pretty smart guy and it's sad to hear of his passing. He will be missed.