Ray Manzarek, keyboardist and founding member of The Doors, passed away today at 12:31PM PT at the RoMed Clinic in Rosenheim, Germany after a lengthy battle with bile duct cancer. He was 74. At the time of his passing, he was surrounded by his wife Dorothy Manzarek, and his brothers Rick and James Manczarek.
Manzarek is best known for his work with The Doors who formed in 1965 when Manzarek had a chance encounter on Venice Beach with poet Jim Morrison. The Doors went on to become one of the most controversial rock acts of the 1960s, selling more than 100-million albums worldwide, and receiving 19 Gold, 14 Platinum and five multi-Platinum albums in the U.S. alone. “L.A.Woman,” “Break On Through to the Other Side,” “The End,” “Hello, I Love You,” and “Light My Fire” were just some of the band’s iconic and ground-breaking songs. After Morrison’s death in 1971, Manzarek went on to become a best-selling author, and a Grammy-nominated recording artist in his own right. In 2002, he revitalized his touring career with Doors’ guitarist and long-time collaborator, Robby Krieger.
“I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and bandmate Ray Manzarek today,” said Krieger. “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.”
Manzarek is survived by his wife Dorothy, brothers Rick and James Manczarek, son Pablo Manzarek, Pablo’s wife Sharmin and their three children Noah, Apollo and Camille. Funeral arrangements are pending. The family asks that their privacy be respected at this difficult time. In lieu of flowers, please make a memoriam donation in Ray Manzarek’s name at www.standup2cancer.org
Below, a post-Jim Morrison Doors do “Love Me Two Times” on Germany’s Beat Club TV show, with Manzarek taking over the vocal duties:
When my wife and I got together and our record collections were merged, I was pleased to see that I was marrying a fellow Shirley Bassey fan. We were in firm agreement on the Welsh songbird’s cover of The Doors’ “Light My Fire” from her 1970 comeback album, Shirly Bassey is Really Something. Both of us had used it DJing. I don’t know about Tara, but it was something I played all the time. As in every time I DJ’d. Every single time.
Shirly Bassey is Really Something was, and still is, an album that you can find for between 25 cents and a dollar in virtually any used record store. It’s amazing, an A+ album, in my opinion. Considering that nearly all of the songs are cover versions—albeit skillfully selected ones—it’s a pretty cohesive listening experience. Aside from “Light My Fire,” she does the best version of George Harrison’s “Something” this side of Frank Sinatra, as well as incredible takes on “Easy to Be Hard” (from the musical Hair), Blood, Sweat & Tears’ “Spinning Wheel” and what is probably the definite performance of Michel Legrand’s “What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life,” one of the most powerful love songs ever written, and made all the better with that amazing voice of hers. (The only other version that’s anywhere near as good as Bassey’s comes from a similarly powerful “belter,” Scott Walker).
“Easy to Be Hard”:
Below, Shirley Bassey performs “Light My Fire,” backed by a large orchestra, on her 1973 All About Shirley TV special and just kills it:
Okay I lied. Morrison was dead months before “Stairway To Heaven” was released. What we have here is The Australian Doors in a highly entertaining video that manages to take the piss out on both bands.
This performance appeared on Australian TV show The Money Or The Gun, which ran for one season (1989-90) and each week featured a guest performer doing a version of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven,” over 25 in all.
I’ve picked three “Stairway” covers I like: Elvis, The Doors and The Beatles.
The Doors perform “Crawling King Snake” in the Elektra Records studios in 1970 as part of a promo for the soon-to-be released album L.A Woman. Morrison would be dead less than a year after this film was shot.
This footage was produced by ABC Australia for TV program “Getting To Know.”
A little something for a Sunday, 3 excellent showcases from The Doors recorded in Toronto, Denmark and New York between 1967 and 1969. With introductions and interviews with Ray Manzarek, John Densmore and Robby Krieger.
01. “The End” Performance Europe 1968 - Denmark TV
02. “Whiskey Bar”
03. “Back Door Man”
04. “Love Me Two Times”
05. “When The Music´s Over
06. “Unknown Soldier” New York 1968 PBS ‘Critique’ 1969
07. “Follow Me Down”
08. “Whiskey Bar”
09. “Back Door Man”
10. “Wishful Sinful”
11. “Build Me A Woman” Critique interview with The Doors
12. “The Soft Parade”
When producer Bruce Botnick was putting together the new 40th anniversary edition of the Doors classic L.A. Woman, he discovered the tape of an unreleased song recorded during those sessions titled “She Smells So Nice.”
Considering how many times this album has been released and re-released over four decades (the 5.1 surround mix in the Perception box set that came out in 2006 is the one I listen to, it’s great) and that this is probably the final time it’ll come out on any kind of disc media, it’s about time they gave the public a lil’ something new.
Pre-order the new 40th anniversary edition of L.A. Woman at Amazon.
Listening to The Doors’ second album, Strange Days, while peaking on half a tab of Purple Owsley was one of those mindbending events that alter the course of a young man’s life forever. I was 16 years old, living in the suburbs of Virginia and, with the exception of a couple of freak friends, was pretty much alone in the world. There weren’t a lot of support systems during the Summer Of Love in the American South for a kid who wanted to explore his spiritual side. Organized religion had more than failed me, it terrified me. Catholicism spooked me so bad that even the sight of a nun or priest would send me rushing in a cold sweat in the direction of the nearest mental exit sign.
Getting LSD was the easy part. Knowing the best way to navigate the experience was the challenge. You just took the trip and put your faith in the loving hands of the cosmos. At least that’s what I did. Jim Morrison and his band mates were the dark guides on my solitary psychedelic journey.
Well the music is your special friend
Dance on fire as it intends
Music is your only friend
Until the end
Until the end
Until the end!
The Doors’ apocalyptic rock might seem like an entry way to a bad trip, but for me their music echoed and expanded upon an interior shadow world I had always been drawn to and their anti-authoritarianism played into my distrust of bully gods and their black-robed hitmen. LSD gave me a glimpse into the spiraling DNA that contained everything I needed to know about the Universe and all I had to do was crack the code.The Doors provided the soundtrack in my search for the key. A search that continues to this day. Breaking through to the other side turned out to be harder than I imagined.
Jim Morrison was the first rock star that tapped into the same rich vein of poetic dreaming that had lured me into the web of the French surrealists and the American counter-culture. Here was a young Navy brat, like myself, who drew inspiration from Rimbaud, Baudelaire, the Beats, The Living Theater and cinema. He took it all in and spun it back out into lyric-driven music that was familiar and strange at the same time. Intense and filled with mystery and sex, you couldn’t call it pop, but you could dance to it….or melt to it like a pillar of Biblical salt. In my rock and roll world, Morrison was the benign high priest who led me not so gently into a dark night of the soul shot through with glistening shards of seductive light.
Along with most of the rock groups I grew up with, I don’t listen to The Doors these days. The iconic songs of my youth are etched in my genes - musical scarification. I hear them whenever I want by tilting my head in the direction of the Akashic records that spin on turntables somewhere in the Bardo. Years of hearing “Light My Fire” and “When The Music’s Over” on classic rock radio has dulled some of the magic for me. Yet I still get excited when I see a new book on The Doors, particularly when it’s written by someone who was “there.” The thought that hidden secrets might be unlocked from old songs making them feel new again or that some lost piece of history has been unearthed like a rock and roll version of the Dead Sea Scrolls triggers little jolts of excitement along my spine as electric as a Nicolai Tesla neck massage. Yes, hope springs eternal for fools like me.
Greil Marcus’s new book The Doors: A Lifetime Of Listening To Five Mean Years teased me into thinking there might be something fresh to be said about The Doors. Marcus has a rep for knowing a thing or two about rock and roll and pop culture, so I assumed he’d bring something to the mix that lesser writers managed to overlook, you know, a different perspective. But Marcus fails in almost every respect to engage the reader. Even the most devout Doors’ fan will find this slim volume of overstuffed prose and wild tangents a numbing experience. The Marcus perspective consists of bloated descriptions of Doors’ songs and performances, descriptions that are so subjective and adjective heavy that at times it’s like reading Olympia Press fetish porn by someone named “Anonymous.”
The Doors is less a book about the band than it is the experience of being subjected to Marcus’s stream of consciousness vamps on Thomas Pynchon, cult flick Pump Up The Volume, Oliver Stone’s dreadful Doors movie, Val Kilmer’s post-Morrison career, 20th century pop art, Eduardo Paolozzi, the Manson Family and so on. None of which he connects in any compelling way to the subject at hand (the subject becoming less clear as the book lurches along). It’s as if Marcus put some of The Doors’ music on shuffle and started writing whatever popped into his head - a Jackson Pollock action painting connected to The Doors by the mere juxtaposition of sharing the same room as their music. There are threads of elegant symmetry in Marcus’s writing but the center wobbles like a bead of sweat on a brooding hipster’s brow.
Read The Doors to get inside of Greil Marcus’s head if that’s of interest to you. He’s a smart guy and the book gives him an opportunity to show it off. But as a book about one of the planet’s great rock bands, The Doors is a brainy wankfest in which little of any significance is actually said. No amount of pop culture name-dropping and metaphoric over-kill in describing The Doors’ art can obscure the fact that there’s a big hole where the soul of a book ought to be. Marcus claims to be a Doors’ fan and yet there’s little love for the band between the pages of this frustratingly irrelevant book. The Doors may have been a labor of love for Marcus, but for the reader it’s just labor.
Meanwhile, somewhere in the south of France, an overweight bearded poet is writing his autobiography about his early days as a rock star: The End by J.M.
Video: The Doors interviewed in New York in 1969 for public television.
Ray Manzarek desperately attempts to resurrect the 40 year old corpse of Jim Morrison.
Yesterday, on the 40th anniversary of Jim Morrison’s death, Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger played a Doors gig after visiting Morrison’s grave site at Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. Fronted by one of the band’s endless series of faux Lizard Kings, Morrison look-a-like David Brock of Doors cover band Wild Child, Manzarek and Krieger did their best to remind anyone watching why their music careers have been utterly insignificant since Morrison died. John Densmore had the good taste and wisdom to not attend.
Advice to Manzarek: stop pissing on your legacy. I know your Muse - and cash cow- abandoned you when Jim checked out in that bathtub but your determination to milk every last drop out of the Doors’ legacy has been arrogant, pathetic and shameless. If you must perform, call up the former members of your Doors knock-off Nite City. They could probably use the work. And Ian Astbury has probably got some holes in his Cult tour schedule. Every time you drag out another version of The Doors, you remind us all of how utterly empty the band is without Jim’s voice and presence.
Last night in Paris, the “Doors” played “Riders On The Storm” with all of the conviction of a jaded lounge band eternally grinding it out in a Ramada Inn somewhere in Hell. May the wrath of the ghost of the Lizard King be upon them.
This is the infamous performance of “Light My Fire” by The Doors on The Ed Sullivan Show in September of 1967.
Jim Morrison and the band had been asked by the producer of the Sullivan show, Bob Precht, to alter the lyrics of the song so as to eliminate the phrase “we couldn’t get much higher.” Sullivan’s sponsors didn’t dig the idea that the song’s lyrics might suggest drug use. The band agreed to change the lyrics but come show time Morrison sang the lyrics as originally written. As a result, The Doors were banned from ever again appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show. As if it really mattered. The Doors were unstoppable and nothing, certainly not a TV variety show, was going to get in their way.
While The Doors banishment by Sullivan is an oft told tale, the video footage of the performance has only been available on the Internet in low quality truncated form. Here’s a good quality clip of the performance in full.
Rare color footage of The Doors performing on September 7,1968 during their two night stand at London’s Roundhouse.
Other than when and where it was shot, I can’t find any information about this video. I know it’s not from the Roundhouse footage (‘Doors Are Open’) which was broadcast on Granada TV. I know that the sound source is not the mixing board and may have been synched after the fact. And I know as a Doors fan I dig it.
If anyone knows more about the history of this footage, please share.
Before attending UCLA to study film, The Doors’ lead singer Jim Morrison was a student at Florida State University, where he studied art and psychology. It was during his stint at FSU that Morrison appeared in a promotional film, called Florida State University - Towards a Greater University. Even in this little clip, the teenage Morrison exudes the sullen charisma that would later make him a star.
GM: I was a film student at FSU. At that time, the department consisted of two people: myself and Werner Vagt who ran the operation. There were no formal classes. Werner made short films for the university and some outside clients. He had been a director in Germany. Jim Morrison appeared in a short we did for United Way. As I recall, he walked to a mailbox and mailed a letter.