Only hardcore Doors fans probably know that his real name was spelled differently and that he was a junior: Raymond Daniel Manczarek Jr. was his birth name.
Manzarek’s keyboard playing influenced a whole genre of music and helped to make the organ sound popular in rock music during the late 1960s and early 1970s. He also was responsible for founding one of the most popular classic rock bands of all time with the late (?) Jim Morrison.
“Just for the hell of it, man,” Manzarek told this writer during a 2005 interview when asked about bringing the music of The Doors back to life in the early ’00s, in different incarnations of groups with original Doors guitarist Robbie Kreiger. “We’re going to play some music before we hang it up. We thought the 21st century would be a good time to bring back the Doors songs and play the Doors songs live for the audience for a few more years and then quit.”
The quotes above come from an interview conducted over the phone in the summer of 2005, just before Manzarek was due in Atlantic City for a Doors tribute concert, the first to be taped for a VH1 TV series Decade Rock Live, being filmed at the Trump Taj Mahal.
Manzarek and Krieger, along with former singer of the U.K. band the Cult, Ian Astbury, standing in for Jim Morrison, performed as D21C (Doors of the 21st Century) at the show. Ty Dennis joined them on drums and Joel Chen on bass. (The Doors’ original drummer John Densmore had won a permanent injunction in July 2005 prohibiting Manzarek and Krieger from using the band’s old name).
Also appearing at the show were John Sebastian, Vanilla Fudge, Macy Gray and Perry Farrell.
Manzarek died of bile duct cancer at a clinic in Germany, according to reports. His haunting organ riffs, however, and the songs he helped create with The Doors, will fill the world forever.
After learning of his long-time friend’s death, former bandmate Kreiger released the following statement: “I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and bandmate Ray Manzarek today. 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.”
Ride on … through the storm, Raymond. — Jeff Schwachter