Ray Manzarek has died of cancer at 74. Ray Manzarek was the cofounder of The Doors along with Jim Morrison. Originally the Manzarek brothers had a band together, Rick & The Ravens, But after Ray Manzarek and Jim Morrison became friends at a film class in college at UCLA, Morrison joined up as a background singer. But, Ray Mnzarek was a huge fan of the poetry of Jim Morrison and in 1965 they recorded a demo with Jim Morrison’s poetry put to music as the first songs of the future Doors band. Eventually Ray Manzarek’s interest in Jim Morrison’s dark poetry helped to break up the old band by the Manzarek brothers, where the new band centered around Jim Morrison emerged as The Doors, named for a William Blake book.
Ray Manzarek’s often dark sounding keyboard style seemed like a perfect match for Jim Morrison’s dark poetry, and two seemed like the real nucleus of The Doors. After the death of Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek at times was able to capture a little bit of the darkness of Jim Morrison as a solo artist. At one point, after the death of Jim Morrison, it was discussed that maybe Iggy Pop or Patti Smith might replace Jim Morrison. But, Patti Smith did do a bizarre and dark poem on one Ray Manzarek song, “I Wake Up Screaming”. Patti Smith was sometimes thought of as the female Jim Morrison by The Doors and others.
Ray Manzarek was always the closet connection to both Jim Morrison and the dark style of Morrison. The two seemed like such a natural match to form one of the greatest rock acts of all time. Ray Manzarek was a very good keyboardist, but also a great sport. He provided keyboards for a Jim Morrison parody by Weird Al a few years ago, “Craigslist”. Manzarek also released a new album of piano backing for a poet last year, and remained active in music up until his own death.