Doors' keyboardist Ray Manzarek dies from cancer
Influential rock musician loses battle with bile duct cancer
The Doors were probably best known for flamboyant front man Jim Morrison's antics. Musically, however, it was the sinewy lines contributed by keyboard player Ray Manzarek that made the Doors' songs remained in the rock music standard playbooks. The rollicking keyboard of "People Are Strange;" the eerie funeral dirge in "The End," among others insures that these songs continue to flow from speakers to this day. Manzarek has lost his long battle with bile duct cancer. He was 74.
The Doors formed in 1965 after keyboardist Ray Manzarek happened to meet Morrison on California's Venice Beach, where Morrison was living - literally, on the beach.
Morrison's wet and reckless lifestyle ended in 1971, at the classic age of 27, for many other rock music legends such as Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. Manzarek carried on The Doors' legacy, continuing to work as a musician, producer and an author.
"I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and band mate Ray Manzarek today," Doors guitarist Robby Krieger says. "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."
The Doors famously pushed buttons and crossed boundaries throughout the drug-drenched Sixties. Among many other shenanigans, the Doors famously defied the producers of
"The Ed Sullivan Show" by refusing to delete the drug reference "higher" when they performed "Light My Fire" on his show in 1969. A show producer approached them in the dressing room shortly before they were to go on.
"'Yes, sir,' we told him," he recalls. "'Whatever you say, sir. We'll change.' (The producer) looked at Jim and said, 'You're the poet. Think of something else -- 'wire,' 'flyer.'" Then the Doors went out and did the song exactly as they always did. The enraged Sullivan refused to shake their hands.
Always in the moment, Manzarek went on to produce the Los Angeles punk band X in the 1980s. Bassist John Doe said the band learned a lot from him.
"To have someone like Ray -- like rock 'n' roll royalty -- embrace what we do, it was great for our confidence," Doe told CNN in a 2004 interview. "In the studio, he knew what to try to do. He went for performance. He was smart enough to realize that the band had the arrangements all worked out."
Manzarek is survived by his brothers Rick and James, his wife Dorothy, his son Pablo, and three grandchildren.
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