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RAY MANZAREK: The Doors’ Keyboardist and Co-Founder (February 12, 1939-May 20, 2013) | In Memoriam


It’s based on Johann Sebastian Bach.*  It’s my Bach studies which turned the introduction to ‘Light My Fire’ into a rock and roll piece

— Ray Manzarek (alongside guitarist Robbie Krieger in interview with Karl Dallas, UK Morning Star, Friday 30 July 2010)
* [Francesco Cera at the harpsichord on Bach’s Harpsichord Concerto #1 in D minor]

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manzarek 1968

Ray Manzarek USMag
ray manzarek by matthew peyton
© Matthew Peyton / Getty Images

Ray Manzarek, 74, Keyboardist and a Founder of the Doors, Is Dead

By © NYTimes, May 20, 2013

Ray Manzarek, who as the keyboardist and a songwriter for the Doors helped shape one of the indelible bands of the psychedelic era, died on Monday at a clinic in Rosenheim, Germany. He was 74.

The cause was bile duct cancer, according to his manager, Tom Vitorino. Mr. Manzarek lived in Napa, Calif.

Mr. Manzarek founded the Doors in 1965 with the singer and lyricist Jim Morrison, whom he would describe decades later as “the personification of the Dionysian impulse each of us has inside.” They would go on to recruit the drummer John Densmore and the guitarist Robby Krieger.

Mr. Manzarek played a crucial role in creating music that was hugely popular and widely imitated, selling tens of millions of albums. It was a lean, transparent sound that could be swinging, haunted, meditative, suspenseful or circuslike. The Doors’ songs were generally credited to the entire group. Long after the death of Mr. Morrison in 1971, the music of the Doors remained synonymous with the darker, more primal impulses unleashed by psychedelia. In his 1998 autobiography, “Light My Fire,” Mr. Manzarek wrote: “We knew what the people wanted: the same thing the Doors wanted. Freedom.”

The quasi-Baroque introduction Mr. Manzarek brought to the Doors’ 1967 single “Light My Fire“ — a song primarily written by Mr. Krieger — helped make it a million-seller. Along with classical music, Mr. Manzarek also drew on jazz, R&B, cabaret and ragtime. His main instrument was the Vox Continental electric organ, which he claimed to have chosen, Mr. Vitorino said, because it was “easy to carry.”

Read Jon Pareles’ obituary in its entirety at the New York Times source
© NYTimes

‘Ray Manzarek, a founding member of The Doors, dead at 74’ | Hiram Lee, World Socialist Web Site,
25 May 2013



Manzarek, legendary Beat poet Michael McClure & Big Mix in ‘live’ performance

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Pianist Ray Manzarek, poet Michael McClure and Big Mix, Mill Valley, CA, August 10, 2011

Michael McClure & Ray Manzarek Official Website

The Ray Manzarek Website


Michael McClure and Ray Manzarek
from the album cover of Love Lion, 1993


From  a collection dedicated to Ray Manzarek (1939-2013)



Here’s the river of night with forty songs
I’m standing on the river of night with forty songs
I’ll be stepping in the boat before too long
Stepping in the boat with all these songs
White hair hanging in my beard like moss

Everything I see is movies in a dream
Look at bubbles flowing round the rocks
in the stream
I’ll be stepping in the boat before too long

Deer make noise
As they walk over old dead leaves
I’ll be stepping in the boat before too long
Deer make noise
As they walk over old dead leaves


Like Ali Baba
And the thieves

When you get home

When you get home
Sit down with your back against a tree

See pictures go by like movies in a dream

© 2013 by Michael McClure


 Hear ‘Cover to Cover’ with Jack Foley

jack foley miniKPFA logo
KPFA 94.1 FM
(available via streaming audio at

Today’s show is a tribute to Ray Manzarek (1939-2013). Selections from the Ray Manzarek-Michael McClure CD, The Piano Poems will be heard. Michael McClure writes,

 “On a cold, foggy night in San Francisco after a great Japanese meal, Manzarek and I stepped onto the stage and there were sparks of consciousness – the stage was on fire with poems and piano Improvisations. The symbiosis and the synergy made lights. Then Larry Kassin stepped up to join us with his jazz flute and Lou Judson was recording.

 “This is a live album with its heart still beating – no tricks, gimmicks, or second takes. We are bringing together my poetry and Ray’s improvisations that shape my word-sounds into richer meanings: Piano Poems.

 “There’s no way to be without a politics or an antipolitics, no way to be without art, without anger and generosity, without laughter and kindness.

 “That’s the edge we’re whetting on this album.”

 Gary Snyder called Manzarek and McClure “two great shaman-artists of deep experience and long practice.” They were, in addition to being brilliant artists, deep friends for whom “collaboration” and “love” were synonyms. “It was all joy,” McClure said of their many exciting performances.

 Sleep well, Ray Manzarek.

— Jack Foley




Saturday, June 8, 2013

SF Jazz Poetry Festival
(June 6-9, 4 nights of jazz poetry)
San Francisco Jazz Center


Click here for details

 11119046-a-sketch-brass-musical-instrument-saxophone-tenorThe Text
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One Response to “RAY MANZAREK: The Doors’ Keyboardist and Co-Founder (February 12, 1939-May 20, 2013) | In Memoriam”

  1. Brandt Hardin Says:

    Ray’s keyboards were a staple of The Doors. He’ll certainly be missed after such a long and fruitful career helping to create such haunting music. The Doors’ songs opened my mind to other realms of possibilities and cleansed my perception. I paid tribute to Ray when I heard of his passing by creating a new portrait of him and some melting doors which you can see on my artist’s blog at Drop by and let me know how The Doors influenced you too.

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