The Doors – John Densmore, Robby Krieger, Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek – were hugely successful in their heyday
Ray Manzarek, keyboard player and founder member of the 60s rock band The Doors, has died aged 74.
He formed the band with lead singer Jim Morrison in 1965 after a chance meeting in Venice Beach, Los Angeles.
Manzarek, who had battled bile duct cancer for many years, died in a clinic in Rosenheim, Germany, with his wife and brothers at his bedside.
The Doors found fame in the 1960s with hits such as The End, Break on Through to the Other Side and Hello I Love You.
They sold more than 100 million albums worldwide and Manzarek became one of the best-known keyboardists of his era, his artistry colouring tracks like Riders on the Storm and Light my Fire.
In his latter years, Manzarek played in other bands and, in 1998, wrote a best-selling memoir, Light My Fire: My Life with The Doors.
Drummer John Densmore paid tribute to Manzarek, saying he felt “totally in sync” with his “musical brother”.
“There was no keyboard player on the planet more appropriate to support Jim Morrison’s words,” he added.
Guitarist Robbie Krieger, who continued to play with Manzarek following Morrison’s death on 3 July 1971, said he was “deeply saddened” to hear the news.
“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,” he said.
British rock musician Billy Idol tweeted, “I was lucky to get a chance to rock out with him and the other two Doors. Cheers mate, say hi to Jim.”
Bill Siddons, the band’s manager in the 60s, told the BBC it was a “tremendous loss” to musical culture.
“He understood what Jim’s talent was, and he put the band together to make it work,” he said. “The Doors really had a huge impact, and still do, on our musical culture.”
The original line-up, which included drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger, made six albums in their six years together.
The death of Morrison, who died of heart failure in a bath in Paris, effectively spelled the end for the band, although Chicago-born Manzarek took on singing duty.
Manzarek, who was of Polish descent, was born and raised in south Chicago before studying cinematography at the University of California in Los Angeles where he first met fellow film student Morrison.
“There was no idea of forming a rock and roll band at the time. Jim was a poet and a film maker – and not a very good film maker but a really good poet and a real intellectual,” he told singer Suzi Quatro in a documentary for the BBC.
He took classical piano lessons as a child which later contributed to the fusion style of The Doors’ music.
“The introduction to Light My Fire was my little Bach study. I had a good time with that,” he said.
“The whole point of The Doors was a fusion of rock and roll but with some jazz, a little bit of classical, Robbie Krieger’s flamenco guitar, and my classical background.”
He met Morrison again by chance on Venice Beach in 1965 after finishing their course, where Morrison sang him an early version of Moonlight Drive, which would later feature on their second album, Strange Days.
Manzarek met Densmore and Krieger at a Transcendental Meditation lecture and the four became the house band at The London Fog on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles in 1966.
He played with a number of other bands throughout his career including Iggy Pop and punk rock band X.
Manzarek is survived by his wife Dorothy Fujikawa, who he married in 1967, his son, Pablo and three grandchildren.
Source: bbc.co.uk ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-22604798 )