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Passings: Ray Manzarek of the Doors (1939 - 2013)

Ray Manzarek, the man who played the iconic organ intro on his band, the Doors', Light My Fire, died on Monday from complications related to bile duct cancer. He was 74.

His website only shows a vintage photo with his birth and death years:
According to his publicist, Heidei Robinson-Fitzgerald, said that Manzarek died at the RoMed Medical Clinic in Rosenheim, Germany while his manager, Tom Vitorino, said his passing was at 3:30 PM EDT, surrounded by family.

While studying at the UCLA Department of Cinematography, he met fellow film student Jim Morrison but the two went their separate ways after graduation.  A month-and-a-half alter, they met by chance on Venice Beach and Morrison invited him to listen to a song he had written, Moonlight Drive.

The two decided to form the Doors and met the other two members of the group, John Densmore and Robbie Krieger at a TM lecture. They developed an act and, in early 1966, became the lounge band at The London Fog on the Sunset Strip and, later, the Whiskey A Go Go.

The band was signed to Columbia Records but ended up asking to be dropped, eventually signing with Jac Holzman's Elektra. Their self titled debut album was released the first week of 1967 and, with the release of Light My Fire as the second single, the group's popularity took off into the stratosphere.  Their entire output of albums during the life of Jim Morrison went to the U.S. top ten and they scored top twenty hits with People Are Strange, Hello I Love You, Touch Me, Love Her Madly and Riders on the Storm.

Of course, the Doors years were also full of controversy, mostly at the hands of Jim Morrison who was arrested for everything from obscenities on stage to allegedly exposing himself to the audience.

After Morrison's death on July 3, 1971, the other three members of the group decided to continue with Manzarek and Krieger taking lead vocals. They officially broke up in 1973 although the reformed in 1978 to record the musical backgrounds for American Prayer, an album of Morrison's poetry, their induction in 1993 to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and other events.

Manzarek went on to make three solo albums between 1974 and 1983 along with forming a band called Nite City. From 2002 to 2013, he reunited with Robby Krieger to form The Doors of the 21st Century, leading to on-going legal battles with John Densmore.

Manzarek is survived by his wife Dorothy and son Pablo.


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.