Ray Manzarek, co-founder and keyboardist for The Doors passed away today from complications related to cancer. He was 74 years old.
Manzarek was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. He earned a degree in Economics from DePaul University, then relocated to Los Angeles to study film at UCLA where he met Jim Morrison, who was also a film student at the time. The two re-connected after college and formed The Doors with guitarist Robbie Krieger and drummer John Densmore, who Manzarek met at a Transcendental Meditation lecture. They became the house band at The London Fog on the Sunset Strip, and later at the Whiskey a Go Go, then launched a recording and touring career. Because The Doors had no bassist, Manzarek covered both bass and keyboard parts at the same time.
Following Jim Morrison’s death and the breakup of The Doors, Manzarek played in Nite City and with Iggy Pop. He also backed poets such as Michael McClure, Scott Richardson, Darryl Read, and Michael C. Ford. He recorded a rock adaptation of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana with Philip Glass, and integrated classical, jazz, rock, ethnic, and electronic music with composer/trumpeter Bal. He also produced or co-produced acts, such as Echo & the Bunnyman, X, and Michael Barber. More recently he worked with “Weird Al” Yankovic on a “style” parody of The Doors. His recent recordings include Translucent Blues with slide guitarist Roy Rogers.
He wrote a memoir, Light My Fire: My Life with The Doors, and two novels: The Poet in Exile (based on the idea that Morrison faked his death) and Snake Moon.