The Passing of Ray

by Ken Gibb

When I was growing up, for me, the Doors towered over all other bands. While the youthful commitment has understandably faded, they remain special. In that context, it was very sad to hear of the passing of founder member and purveyor of their distinctive keyboard sound, Ray Manzarek. He was a lot older than the rest of the group and remained the de facto ‘spokesman’ for the Doors long after Jim Morrison’s death in 1971 – even if falling out with John Densmore (the band’s drummer) over subsequent projects and commercial ventures.

The Doors were remarkably productive, producing six albums in four years, five of which were timeless classics. Personally, I was more a fan of the guitarist, Robbie Krieger, who did some great playing (for instance: Peace Frog, Spanish Caravan, Roadhouse Blues, LA Woman). Ray Manzarek was particularly prominent on the first album and my own favourite record, Strange Days (also a great album sleeve). As the band developed a lot of what he did became more elaborate and involved (such as Riders on the Storm and the later use of Albanoni’s Adagio). He was also key to probably my favourite Doors song – Waiting for the Sun.

Ray Manzarek contributed some fantastic music in a career largely focused in the amazing period from 1967 to 1971. However, he also managed to harness Jim Morrison (at times a very challenging and unpredictable person, to put it I mildly) and together produced something unique and special, which lives on. Rest in peace.