Ray Manzarek Dies: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Ray Manzarek the doors

Ray Manzarek (far right) stands with fellow members of The Doors

Ray Manzarek – co-founder of the American band “The Doors” is dead, reports TMZ. During the 1960’s, Manzarek used to rock on the keyboard alongside lead singer Jim Morrison, who passed away in 1971 of a heroin overdose. “The Doors” was referred to as the most controversial rock acts of the 60s, mostly due to their wild poetic lyrics as well as their lead singer’s charismatic stage persona. Although the band was iconic, Manzarek had a long career and continued to perform long after “The Doors” was disbanded in 1973. Here are the facts you need to know about the late Ray Manzarek:

1. Ray Died of Cancer

Ray The Doors Dies

(Getty Images)

Manzarek passed away today at the RoMed Clinic in Rosenheim, Germany after a long battle with bile duct cancer. At the time of his death, Ray was surrounded by his wife Dorothy, his two brothers, his son and three grandchildren. He was 74. he family ask that donations be made in Manzarek’s name to standuptocancer.org.

2. Manzarek and Morrison Met in UCLA

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Ray Manzarek, Jim Morrison, Jim Densmore and Robby Krieger The Doors perform at the Sports Arena in San Diego (Getty Images)

In 1962–1965, he studied in the Department of Cinematography at UCLA, where he met Jim Morrison who was a film student at the time. Over a month after finishing film school, thinking they had gone their separate ways, Manzarek and Morrison bumped into each other on Venice Beach in California. Morrison said he had written some songs, and Manzarek expressed an interest in hearing them. Right then and there, Morrison sang a rough version of “Moonlight Drive.” Manzarek liked the songs and co-founded the Doors. Manzarek also met his wife Dorothy, while at UCLA.

In an interview with NPR in 2000, Manzarek recalled the band, Jim Morrison and its influences:

We were aware of Muddy Waters. We were aware of Howlin’ Wolf and John Coltrane and Miles Davis. Plus, Jan and Dean and The Beach Boys and the surf sound. Robby Krieger brings in some flamingo guitar. I bring a little bit of classical music along with the blues and jazz, and certainly John Densmore was heavy into jazz. And Jim brings in beatnik poetry and French symbolist poetry, and that’s the blend of The Doors as the sun is setting into the Pacific Ocean at the end, the terminus of Western civilization. That’s the end of it. Western civilization ends here in California at Venice Beach, so we stood there inventing a new world on psychedelics.

3. Mazarek Played with Several Groups After The Doors

Ray Manzarek The Doors

Keyboardist Ray Manzarek of The Doors (Getty Images)

After Morrison’s death in 1971, Manzarek went on to become a best-selling author, and a Grammy-nominated recording artist in his own right. In 2002, he revitalized his touring career with Doors’ guitarist and long-time collaborator, Robby Krieger. Manzarek also played in several groups after the Doors, including Nite City. He recorded a rock adaptation of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana with Philip Glass, produced and backed Echo, the Bunnymen and Los Angeles band X, and played with Iggy Pop. Ray also worked extensively with “Hearts of Fire” screenwriter on a series of spoken word and blues recordings entitled “Tornado Souvenirs”.

4. Manzarek Churned Out Iconic Rock Songs

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Ray and The Doors churned out some of the most iconic rock songs in history — including, “L.A. Woman,” “Break On Through to the Other Side,” “The End,” “Hello, I Love You” and “Light My Fire.”

5. Ray Wanted to be a Basketball Player Before Becoming a Musician

He originally wanted to play basketball, but he only wanted to play power forward or center. When he was sixteen his coach insisted either he play guard, or not at all, and he quit the team. Manzarek said later if it was not for that ultimatum, he might never have been in The Doors. Ray went to college and earned a Bachelors degree from DePaul University before he moved to California where he met Morrison.

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