Ray Manzarek, Keyboardist for The Doors, Dead at 74

by Guitar World Staff
Posted May 20, 2013 at 7:42pm

Keyboardist Ray Manzarek, a founding member of the Doors, died today (May 20) in Rosenheim, Germany, where he was being treated for bile duct cancer. He was 74.

Manzarek is best known for his work with the Doors, who formed in 1965 when Manzarek had a chance encounter in Venice Beach, California, 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 US 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," Krieger said on the band's Facebook page. "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 was born Raymond Daniel Manczarek Jr. on February 12, 1939, in Chicago. He took private piano lessons as a child, but chose basketball over music at an early age. When he was 16, his coach insisted either he play guard or not at all, so Manzarek quit the team.

In the early '60s, he studied in the Department of Cinematography at UCLA, where he met Morrison, a film student. Forty days after finishing film school, Manzarek and Morrison met by chance on Venice Beach. Morrison said he had written some songs, and Manzarek expressed an interest in hearing them, so Morrison sang a rough version of "Moonlight Drive." Manzarek liked the songs and co-founded the Doors with Morrison on the spot.

Manzarek met drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger at a Transcendental Meditation lecture. Densmore says, "There wouldn't be any Doors without Maharishi."

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 standup2cancer.org.

Add a Comment

Similar Guitar News

Readers' Poll: The Best American Rock Band Ever — Aerosmith Vs. The Doors (9/10/2015)
When Labor Day came and went earlier this month, it reminded us of the American labor movement and the contributions American workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of the good ol' U.S. of A. However, since we're Guitar Wor...
Qello Announces The Doors Digital Festival (3/12/2015)
On February 20, Qello Concerts launched The Doors Digital Festival, an eight-week program during which Qello Concerts will unlock one classic Doors concert film for free every week. The current film, as of Friday, March 16, is No One Here Gets O...
The Doors' Robby Krieger Discusses Bob Dylan's 'Bringing It All Back Home' — The Record That Changed My Life (8/1/2014)
Robby Krieger of the Doors chooses and discusses the record that changed his life. Bob DylanBringing It All Back Home (1965) “This guy from Marblehead, Massachusetts, who I knew in school named Bill Phinity turned me onto Bob Dylan. "We had a j...
Greatest Rock Singers of All Time Readers Poll, Round 1: Ronnie James Dio (Dio, Rainbow, Black Sabbath) Vs. Jim Morrison (The Doors) (10/1/2013)
Why should guitarists have all the fun? GuitarWorld.com recently launched a new readers poll in partnership with Samson: the Greatest Rock Singers of All Time Readers Poll. We're certain that, even though our core readership is mainly made up of...
Interview: Guitarist Robby Krieger Discusses The Doors' Albums and Working with Jim Morrison (5/20/2013)
The Doors’ Jim Morrison lit the world on fire, but it was guitarist Robby Krieger who supplied the matches. In 2008, the legendary axman shed light on one of rock’s most mysterious bands for Guitar World. The Doors’ Jim Morrison lit the world on...
Video and Photo Gallery: The Doors Launch Interactive iPad App (5/16/2013)
The Doors are once again poised to break on through with a first-of-its-kind iPad app, The Doors, available exclusively on the App Store. Released by Warner Music Group’s Rhino Entertainment, the app brings the band’s story to life with an unpr...
Remastered 'The Doors Live At The Bowl ’68' Coming to DVD/CD October 23 (8/15/2012)
On October 23, Eagle Rock Entertainment will release a remastered version of The Doors' July 5, 1968, performance at the Hollywood Bowl. The Doors Live At The Bowl '68 will be released as a Blu-Ray ($19.98), DVD ($14.98), digital video ($12.99),...
Interview: The Doors' Robby Krieger Discusses Some of the Best Tracks on Reissued 'L.A. Woman' Album (5/7/2012)
The Doors were at a low point in December 1970, when they gathered to begin recording their sixth studio album. They had been banned from performing after singer Jim Morrison’s prosecution for exposing himself at a Miami concert on March 1, 196...