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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

In Memoriam: Ray Manzarek

I heard the news of Ray's passing the day after. I was shocked and flabbergasted. I wanted to wait a day to say my piece on the man we simply call "Ray." I first came to know the Doors in the early 80's when my cousins bought the Greatest Hits album. I was immediately hooked and the rest was history.

One thing I absolutely hate is when a DJ is playing a Doors song and the douchebag introduces the band as; "Jim Morrison and the Doors." Wrong. The Doors is comprised of 4 super talented musicians. Another thing I hate is rock radio playing the same 5 Doors songs. Enough with "Break on through," "Light my fire," "Touch me," "Roadhouse blues," and "Love her madly." The Doors is not a top 40 or one hit wonder band. The band is pushing 50 and hasn't played a gig together in over 40 years and still selling!

As for Ray, his talent is scary. The band didn't have a bass player, so Ray played his Vox organ and a Fender Rhodes keyboard bass! When you go on YouTube watch him play. He's playing two different instruments. Yes they are keyboards, but one is an organ and one is a bass! Listen to "when the music's over." That's Ray doing the organ sound and bass!! Manzarek also played guitar and sang! Ray was  1/4 of one of the greatest rock and roll bands in history. No other band sound like the Doors. Period. The band broke so much ground in the music industry it's not funny. Here's a short list of accomplishments still used today:

  • Heavy use of keyboards/synthesizers. All the music in the 80's was because of Ray Manzarek. 
  • Recording songs longer than the standard 2:30-3:00. "Light my Fire" and "The End" led us to "Stairway to Heaven," "Starship Trooper," and "Freebird."
  • The use of improvisation. The Doors and Grateful Dead gave us jams and Jam bands.
  • The use of film. Manzarek and Morrison were film school students and recorded some of the first ever music videos which led us to Music Television (MTV) and now YouTube.
  • Recording music when one of the performers has died. All the Duets albums are courtesy of the 1978 album "An american Prayer." The surviving Doors composed music to accompany the spoken word of Jim Morrison who passed away seven years earlier. 
Besides the musician we need to look at Ray Manzarek the man. He's been married since 1967 despite free love Manzarek preferred the institution of marriage. Ray also had a very positive outlook on life. In every interview he is smiling, laughing, joking. Never a scowl on his face or attempting to avoid fans. In fact, there are youtube clips of Ray walking up and playing with garage bands! Ray was also a workhorse. In his 70's he still wanted to go on the road. He toured with Robbie Krieger, Michale McClure, and Roy Rogers.He did this while fighting cancer, in which he kept private. As for his feud and lawsuits with John Densmore, that's for the Doors family to work out. Now that Ray has passed, let's hope John and Robbie can bury the hatchet.

I had the opportunity to see and meet Ray and Robbie at a concert in Norfolk, VA in 2008. It was one of the best concerts of my life. And I tried to be unbiased as possible. Ray even played a song with the help of his right foot! His right foot has more talent than I have in my entire body! After the show I met Ray and he was as pleasant as can be despite the fact I was very nervous and intoxicated! Ray you are surely missed already!

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