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Ray Manzarek of The Doors - Still Rockin'

Updated on February 13, 2013
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Ray Manzarek of The Doors - Still Rockin'

You read that correctly ladies and gentlemen… Ray Manzarek, the co-founder of The Doors, is back onstage mastering the keys with guitarist Roy Rogers and their new blues band. I had the pleasure of catching them on their recent tour in February 2013, when they played a small bar in Honolulu. Posted below you’ll find some live footage of Ray and the band playing some bluesy rockers from their album “Translucent Blues” as well as some Doors classics. But first, lets take a minute to go back and review some lesser-known facts regarding the conception of The Doors and the role Ray played.

How Ray Founded The Doors

Born on February 12, 1939, 74 years ago today, Ray Manzarek is the eldest member of The Doors. Despite the unwanted “front-man” roll that Jim inevitably fell into during the height of The Doors' success, Ray is arguably the forgotten founder of The Doors. By assembling all the band members into one garage in the early 60’s, Ray Manzarek was the common denominator in the Doors equation. So here’s how the story goes:

Ray grows up in South Side Chicago and takes piano lessons as a kid. He graduates from DePaul University with a degree in Economics and moves to California to attend film school at UCLA. Here, Ray meets Jim Morrison, and they become friends. Meanwhile, Ray plays in a band, Rick and The Ravens, with his brothers Jim and Rick Manzarek.

After graduating UCLA film school in 1965, Ray runs into Jim Morrison at Venice Beach and they catch up. Jim shares some song lyrics that he’s written (Moonlight Drive) and Ray and Jim decide to start a rock n roll band. Impressed with Jim’s mysteriously ominous lyricism, Ray decides to help Jim get involved with the local music scene. So Jim attends a Rick and The Ravens gig, where they invite him onstage to sing a cover of “Louie, Louie”, his first performance ever.

During this time, Jim and Ray begin to explore “the doors of perception”, while dabbling in the psychedelic scene of the 60’s. Jim uses this mysticism to write songs, while Ray chases spiritual bliss. Fortunately for The Doors, Ray isn’t satisfied with the all so temporary altered state of consciousness offered by LSD. Ray chats with Richard Bock, who ran the recording studio that Rick and The Ravens used, and they discuss this spiritual dilemma that’s been bothering Ray. Bock suggests that Ray attend a meditation course, run by an Indian guru. Ray attends the course, which is lead by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. That’s right, folks, The Doors crossed paths with Maharishi before the Beatles! At this mediation class, Ray meets John Densmore, and eventually, Robby Krieger, which may have been the enlightenment he was searching for.

In 1965 The Doors were born, creating the most unique sound in all of Southern California. John sustains the percussion with jazzy smoothness, while Robby weaves tangy elements of flamenco through his riffs. Ray plays his keys with a certain circus-like dementia, creating a mystical landscape for Jim’s haunting and theatrical poetics to complete The Doors' sound.

Happy Birthday Ray Manzarek

You’re sincere passion for life and music is a true inspiration to your enduring and young fans alike!

“You have to be open to the energy. If you can open your heart to the energy - that great love energy of the creation of this entire universe - good things will happen to you. But you’ve got to believe. You’ve got to believe in the goodness. You have to open your heart to the energy. You can’t be afraid. We’re all riders on the storm. God Bless you”

– Ray Manzarek

I encourage all fans to check out Ray and Roy’s album, “Translucent Blues” and Enjoy some live footage below!

Translucent Blues

Christophersun & Ray

Manzarek/Rogers Band: "Kick"

Manzarek / Rogers Band: "New Dodge City Blues"

Manzarek / Rogers Band: "Riders on The Storm"

Ray Manzarek: "The Crystal Ship"

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