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Published: 2013/05/20

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


There are 7 comments associated with this post

Stolly May 20, 2013, 19:23:04

The first time that I heard the album version of “Light My Fire” was a life-changing experience. Rest peacefully, Ray.

Indytaper May 20, 2013, 19:27:32

Thank you, Ray, for the music. Thank God you ran into Jim that day on the beach and heard his poems. The Doors made beautiful music from that day forward. You will be missed but never forgotten. Rest in peace.

MarZaPhiGar May 20, 2013, 20:12:16

RIP, Ray. The Doors were the first band I was ever obsessed with. When I was a freshman in HS I read “No one here gets out alive” and subsequently blew all my allowance money at the used record store every Saturday. Soon after that came Zappa, and Floyd, and finally the Dead…glad I got to see Ray at least once at Vibes 2001…this isn’t End, and the Music will never be Over…

Bill Harriman May 21, 2013, 09:47:53

Ray did some fine work with bluesman Roy Rogers. Roy is a great acoustic slide guitarist and the two of them made a couple of excellent records together. It’s worth checking out.
RIP Ray!

Dizzy With Eternity May 21, 2013, 09:59:25

Peace be with you – I live through the music – Doses and the Doors – Helped me break on through….to the other side.
Playing my Doors Live 2 Disc Vinyl on the old Turntable tonight for sure…No Doses..Gotta work…..Memorial Day Doors Weekend – The music Never over….in Fact “The Music Never Stopped” 

PM May 21, 2013, 11:12:25

He contributed to history, RIP Ray

timmy May 21, 2013, 14:58:29

I grew up listening to The Doors. Ray’s music is an iconic part of rock history that will live forever. Just the opening riff to Soul Kitchen brings so much joy and nostalgia to me. RIP Ray. Your legacy will live forever. Say hi to Jim.

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