The River's Badge

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Ray Manzarek

Do you know that if you do an image search for "The Doors", you get a lot of pictures of Jim Morrison alone?  It's as if the Doors were a solo act.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

I wonder what "Light My Fire" would sound like without that organ intro.  I think it would be indistinguishable from every other song that was released in 1967.

I'm no Doors historian.  A lot of rock 'n roll people know a hell of a lot more about the Doors than I do.  I can tell you that the Summer of Love wouldn't have been all that memorable if it wasn't for Light My Fire. And if it wasn't for that organ solo.

Here's the truth about Jim Morrison.  He was a pretentious fool who thought he was a "poet".  If Ray Manzarek hadn't stumbled upon him on Venice Beach one summer day, he'd probably have drank himself to death up there on that roof where he was living.  No offense.  Jim Morrison was photogenic, though.  And he had a distinctive voice.  Not necessarily a good voice; not necessarily a bad one.  Sort of like Johnny Cash, Jim Morrison had personality.  Charisma.

Defining the Doors by Jim Morrison is like saying that the John, George, and Ringo were Paul's backup band.  It's ludicrous.  Robby Krieger wrote Light My Fire, even though everybody thinks Jim wrote it.  John Densmore socked it to them (a dated reference, to be sure) by putting his jazz drumming on the tracks.

And Ray?  Well, the band was either too cheap or too broke to hire a bass player, so Ray got to play organ and bass simultaneously on all their records.  Ray was a master at classical music,  jazz, R and B, cabaret and ragtime.

The Doors were the sum of the whole.  

Jim Morrison took the alcoholic's way out, and managed to off himself in Paris in 1971; thus robbing the band of many years of making music and being relevant.

Listen to this song and tell me how memorable it would be without Ray Manzarek.



Here, at least, are Ray's hands:




Ray, speaking about the Doors' Ed Sullivan appearance:


It just seems to me that Ray Manzarek was the brains of that outfit.  No offense to the other guys.  

For a band that shimmered for only a brief time, the Doors have managed to live on forever.  

That's kind of saying a lot.

We'll miss you, Ray.







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