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Ray Manzarek: 5 Facts About the Doors’ Keyboardist
Posted By Patrick Kiger On May 21, 2013 @ 1:34 pm In Legacy | No Comments
In a moment that would later be enshrined in the mythology of rock music, Manzarek asked Morrison what he’d been up to since he’d dropped out of school. Morrison told him that he’d been writing songs. Manzarek was intrigued. “Let’s hear ‘em,” he said. Morrison responded by kneeling, closing his eyes and slowly reciting the first verse of what eventually would become The Doors’ song “Moonlight Drive.”
Manzarek was astonished. “Those are the greatest [expletive] song lyrics I’ve ever heard,” he told Morrison. “Let’s start a rock ‘n’ roll band and make a million dollars.”
[Listen to some of Manzarek’s great riffs:]
So they did. The Doors, the most darkly apocalyptic and disturbing rock group of the ’60s, went on to sell 100 million records, and Morrison, an untutored singer with a mesmerizing stage presence and a penchant for reckless abandon, remains a pop culture icon more than four decades after his mysterious 1971 death in a Paris hotel bathtub.
But it was Doors keyboardist Manzarek, who died on May 20 at age 74 in Germany, who gave the Doors’ myriad Top 40 hits that distinctive, instantly recognizable sound that so set them apart from the guitar-centric rock played by other groups – from the oddly bouncy calliope-like intro of “Light My Fire” to the stark, menacing bursts of organ from “Waiting for the Sun.” (Alexis Petridis, a rock critic for the British newspaper the Guardian, offers this eloquent tribute to Manzarek’s keyboard wizardry.)
Here are some intriguing facts about Manzarek.
Here’s a snippet of an interview with Manzarek, in which he recalls the band’s controversial appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, in which a network official unsuccessfully tried to get the band to delete the word “higher” from the lyrics to “Light My Fire.”
Photo: Matt Carr/Getty Images
Audio montage courtesy of Paul Ingles via PRX, the Public Radio Exchange
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