I’m up to my proverbial eyeballs in Masters Dissertation work, not to mention the other paid kind (which I just did), but a quick blog post is needed today I feel. One of my music idols passed away yesterday, and what a surprise it was. I thought he was in the rudest of health. Ray Manzarek, best known as the keyboardist and one of the founding members of The Doors, died after a battle with cancer.
As with millions, The Doors’ music means a lot of things, and perhaps soon I’ll share what those some things are to me. So personally (and bitterly) it’s ironic that my recent talk of a trip to the US centered around discussion of culminating the trip in LA, and seeing the sights and sounds of ‘Doors LA’. I even found out where The ‘Whiskey-a-Go-Go’ is in relation to my Uncle’s house. What I didn’t expect was to be posting up a poignant photograph of the club’s marquee soon after, lamenting Ray’s passing. Such is life….and the other thing.
As Alex Petridis said yesterday, it took a certain kind of man to get noticed in a band fronted by Jim Morrison. Ray Manzarek was that kind of man. A great raconteur, a formidably friendly presence and a unique musical talent. I still haven’t heard Ray’s 1974 album The Golden Scarab, an Egyptian mythology concept album, but I can’t imagine its boring, even if it turns out to be a few other things. A musician as good as this man could only entertain. Admittedly, if he’d retired in 1973, his work with The Doors would have remained his most famous work. But what work. One of the all time great American rock bands from the psychedelic era of the late ’60s. From the celebratory intro to ‘Light my fire’, the driving dark urgency of ‘When the music’s over’ to the reflective ease of ‘Riders on the storm’, Manzarek’s jazzy phantom fairground keyboards were the soul of The Doors, and gave them much of their unique character in a band where all four members added something special. Without one member, they were far less, as two Morrison-less albums proved. In my friend Dan I probably have the closest I’d ever get to Ray Manzarek, and he met the guy three times. Each anecdote about him backs up all the good things I read about in my teens.
His band inspired countless disenfranchised, creative, passionate and soul searching kids. May his music continue to do so. Ray’s new music may be over, but some of us will keep the lights on for his legacy.