Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ray Manzarek

Ray Manzarek died the other day, living an extraordinarily long lifespan for a rock musician (74 years). Don’t know him? He was the bespectacled, long-haired keyboardist for the Doors. He gave them their definitive sound, the carnivalesque tones you hear immediately in the song “Light My Fire.” Manzarek also molded the music by playing baselines on his keyboards, as, for some reason or another, the band had no bassist. Usually they were simple bass runs, but it all worked.

I was very much into the Doors as a rebellious kid … between 1987 and 1990 mostly, though Santa got me the Morrison bio No One Here Gets Out Alive in 1985. Of course I listened to other groups at the time and was in the thick of things trying to get a grip on playing my electric guitar, writing songs, and helping get my band off the ground. But in those pre-CD days, I wore out a cassette of 13 and a homemade cassette of their tunes I recorded off the radio. A few years back I borrowed Morrison Hotel from the library, but aside from that I hadn’t really listened to them in over twenty years.

Manzarek was the geeky Shaggy to Morrison’s dangerous coolth, though he never saw himself that way, at least in the handful of interviews I heard him speak, most around the time of Stone’s The Doors release in ’91. Yin to Jim’s Yang (wow, can that be interpreted in a lot of uncharitable ways!). Yet I’m sad in a way. If Ray Harryhausen’s death a few weeks ago hit me like a beloved uncle’s, Ray Manzarek’s feels like, oh, my wife’s second cousin, a man who I respected but didn’t spend a lot of time with.

Anyway, rest in peace. You made a lot of people happy with your music.

Hopper’s choice selection of Doors tunes:

Waiting for the Sun
Riders on the Storm
Soul Kitchen
Unknown Soldier
Wild Child
Love Me Two Times
Moonlight Drive
Five to One
Strange Days

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