Ray Manzarek, Founding Member of The Doors, Passes Away at 74
Ray Manzarek, founding member and keyboardist of The Doors, passed away today at the age of 74 from complications related to his long battle with bile duct cancer. A post on The Door’s official Facebook page states that: “At the time of his passing, he was surrounded by his wife Dorothy Manzarek, and his brothers Rick and James Manzarek.”
In 1965, Manzarek met fellow UCLA classmate Jim Morrison on Venice Beach and the two co-founded the seminal rock band, The Doors. While Manzarek was attending a lecture on Transcendental Meditation, he met guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Desmore, and the band’s lineup was solidified.
By 1966, The Doors had become a staple of the L.A. club circuit, playing such clubs as London Flog and Whisky a Go Go. That same year, the band was signed to Elektra Records, and The Doors released their self-titled debut album the following year. Manzarek’s distinctive keyboard stylings turn songs such as “Break on Through (To the Other Side)” and “Light My Fire” into classic rock and roll hits. The Doors was ranked #42 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
The Doors went on to release five more albums between 1967 and 1971 before the untimely death of frontman Morrison. Just a few of their other famous songs include “Love Me Two Times” (Strange Days, 1967), “Hello, I Love You” (Waiting for the Sun, 1968), “Touch Me” (The Soft Parade, 1969), “Peace Frog” (Morrison Hotel, 1970) and “L.A. Woman” (L.A. Woman, 1971).
Although The Doors released two more albums after Morrison’s death, the group officially disbanded in 1973. In the time since then, Manzarek added his musical abilities to several other bands, produced other musicians’ albums, and published a best-selling memoir, Light My Fire: My Life with the Doors in 1998.
The Doors have sold more than 100 million albums worldwide, and have received 19 Gold, 14 Platinum and five Multi-Platinum albums in the U.S. alone.
A statement from Krieger on The Doors’ Facebook page reads: “I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and bandmate Ray Manzarek today. 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.
Ray Manzarek’s surviving family has asked that their privacy be respected at this difficult time and that in lieu of flowers, please make a memorial donation in Manzarek’s name at www.standup2cancer.com