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Ray Manzarek of the Doors Dies of Cancer at 74

Legendary Doors keyboardist and founding member loses battle with cancer


(Photo from


By Alex Baker


Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek has succumbed to cancer that afflicted his bile duct. The keyboardist was receiving treatment at a clinic in Germany and was surrounded by friends and family at the time of his passing.


It was Manzarek who co-founded the legendary L.A. band with Jim Morrison in 1965, along with Robbie Krieger and John Densmore. With a name inspired from a poem by William Blake, the Doors rapidly conquered the L.A. scene on the Sunset Strip and moved on to quickly become a worldwide act, courting controversy all along the way.


In some ways, it was Manzarek with his self-possessed intelligent manner, who seemed to provide the stable underpinning to Jim Morrison’s anarchistic rabblerousing. Manzarek had known the singer when they were undergrads in UCLA’s film program and they later reunited on a beach in Venice, CA where they formed their musical partnership.


With The Doors, Manzarek developed a singular style of playing keyboards; doing the bass with one hand while handling riffs and melodies with the other. His organ hooks helped propel the psychedelic rock sound of the band into the upper reaches of the charts with hits like “Light My Fire,” “People are Strange,” and “L.A. Woman,” among many others.


When Morrison died and the band dissolved, Manzarek went on to become a best-selling author, a filmmaker and a producer. In the late Seventies and early Eighties, he even skirted the edges of the punk movement, producing albums for the iconic L.A. punk band, X.


In more recent years, Manzarek had reunited with the surviving members of the band and gone on tour, usually with Ian Astbury of The Cult doing an able-bodied job of standing in for Morrison.


“I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and bandmate Ray Manzarek today,” said Krieger on The Doors Facebook page. “I’m just glad to have been able to have played Doors songs with him for the last decade. Ray was a huge part of my life and I will always miss him.


Ray Manzarek was born in Chicago in 1939 and is survived by his wife Dorothy, brothers: Rick and James, son Pablo and wife Sharmin, and three grandchildren.



Donations in tribute to Manzarek can be made to standup2cancer.


Watch The Doors episode of Guitar Shop TV.

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