Ray Manzarek died today at the age of 74, following a long battle with bile duct cancer. He founded the Doors with Jim Morrison on a beach outside of L.A. – they’d discussed forming a band in the white hot L.A. rock ‘n’ roll scene of the mid-60s, and when Morrison showed up on the beach with the words to “Crystal Ship” it became a reality. Manzarek described himself as the least intelligent person in the Doors (apparently everyone had tested at higher IQs than he did, including his then-wife). Despite the handicap of being the only smart guy in a room full of geniuses, he managed to be arguably the most talented. Pulling double duty as keyboard player and bassist, Manzarek created a twisting, serpentine sound that exemplified the increasingly tripped-out end of the Psychedelic Sixties and set a standard for keyboard playing in pop bands that has been chased ever since. His influence became especially felt in the early Eighties, as waves of keyboard-flashing synth-pop bands took his ideas and ran with them. Bands like Echo and the Bunnymen, and the Cure, would simply not exist if not for his jazz-inflected passages, and his experimentation with the early Moog synths pushed the envelope that the prog bands would pick up as the Seventies wore on.
So let’s play some Doors; I haven’t properly done so in nearly a decade. When these songs get scratched into your soul, you don’t need to play them. They’re already there. It’s a sharing culture now, though, so here. Let’s share.