Friday, 24 May 2013

RIP Ray Manzarek

As a British music fan, I first became aware of The Doors around '74 when I purchased their amazing debut album. At the time, my musical tastes centered around Bowie, Roxy Music, Mott The Hoople and Pink Floyd - much to the disdain of my school friends who were into altogether different, more populist fare. Happily, The Doors were soon installed as firm favourites, with Jim Morrison's vocals and Ray Manzarek's wonderfully innovative keyboards hugely contributing to some timeless classics that will still be around long after we have departed. Ray met Jim Morrision at the University of California, Los Angeles, and after hearing some of Morrison's songs, went ahead and formed The Doors. After months of gigging, the band were signed by Elektra Records and their debut album was released in 1967, giving them the first in a string of top 10 albums. After Morrison's death in 1971, Robbie Kreiger and Ray shared vocal duties. The band would go on to make 2 more albums before disbanding. Luckily for music buffs, Manzarek's heart was forever in the industry, and he made 3 solo albums before forming Nite City which released two albums in 1977/8. More solo albums followed and a partnership with Robbie Kreiger yielded a new version of The Doors which became embroiled in legal battles because of the name. Manzarek also became an author and produced the legendary Los Angeles album by punk band X. His was a busy, artistically fruitful life and the very soul of his keyboard sound inspired countless musicians. Of course in 1976 - just prior to his Nite City project - the Punk Rock explosion sounded a huge wake-up call to the music industry, and one of the things that drew me to following The Stranglers was Dave Greenfield's keyboards which owed an awful lot to Ray's work. As well as producing the X album, Ray also collaborated with British band Echo And The Bunnymen, and worked with Philip Glass. His death is a huge blow to the world of music and The Doors' drummer John Densmore summed things up beautifully with this tribute: "There was no keyboard player on the planet more appropriate to support Jim Morrison's words,"

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