Ray Manzarek, one of the founders of the hugely popular ’60s and ’70s rock group The Doors, has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 74 years old.
Manzarek was one of the group’s principle writers, penning hits like “L.A. Woman”, “Light My Fire”, and “Hello, I Love You”. He also played keyboards in the band and made history after a chance encounter on Venice Beach with Jim Morrison in 1965.
“We were aware of Muddy Waters,” Manzarek said of the group. “We were aware of Howlin’ Wolf and John Coltrane and Miles Davis. Plus, Jan and Dean and The Beach Boys and the surf sound. Robby Krieger brings in some flamingo guitar. I bring a little bit of classical music along with the blues and jazz, and certainly John Densmore was heavy into jazz. And Jim brings in beatnik poetry and French symbolist poetry, and that’s the blend of The Doors as the sun is setting into the Pacific Ocean at the end, the terminus of Western civilization. That’s the end of it. Western civilization ends here in California at Venice Beach, so we stood there inventing a new world on psychedelics.”
From there, The Doors became an international sensation and as controversial as any rock group would ever be, with Morrison getting arrested for his various stage antics and keeping the rest of the group on their toes with his rampant drug use. Manzarek would go on to become a Grammy winner and a best-selling author, and revitalized his music career with a tour in 2002.
“I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and bandmate Ray Manzarek today,” said bandmate Robby 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.”