Manzarek, founding member of The Doors, dies at 74
FILE - In this Aug. 16, 2012 file photo, Ray Manzarek of The Doors performs at the Sunset Strip Music Festival launch party celebrating The Doors at the House of Blues in West Hollywood, Calif. Manzarek, the keyboardist who was a founding member of The Doors, has died at 74. Publicist Heidi Robinson-Fitzgerald says in a news release that Manzarek died Monday, May 20, 2013, at the RoMed Clinic in Rosenheim, Germany, surrounded by his family. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
Ray Manzarek, a founding member of the 1960s rock group The Doors whose versatile and often haunting keyboards complemented Jim Morrison's gloomy baritone and helped set the mood for some of rock's most enduring songs, has died. He was 74.
Manzarek died Monday in Rosenheim, Germany, surrounded by his family, said publicist Heidi Robinson-Fitzgerald. She said the musician's manager, Tom Vitorino, confirmed Manzarek died after being stricken with bile duct cancer.
The Doors' original lineup, which also included drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robbie Krieger, was only together for a few years and they only made six studio albums. But the band has retained a large and obsessive following decades after Morrison's 1971 death. The Doors have sold more than 100 million records and songs such as "Light My Fire" and "Riders On the Storm" are still "classic" rock favorites. For Doors admirers, the band symbolized the darker side of the Los Angeles lifestyle, what happened to the city after the sun went down and the Beach Boys fans headed home.
FILE - In this undated publicity file photo, members of the Doors, from left, John Densmore, Robbie Krieger, Ray Manzarek and Jim Morrison, pose for a portrait. Manzarek, the keyboardist who was a founding member of The Doors, has died at 74. Publicist Heidi Robinson-Fitzgerald says in a news release that Manzarek died Monday, May 20, 2013, at the RoMed Clinic in Rosenheim, Germany, surrounded by his family. (AP Photo, File)
The Doors' vibe "has more to do with Charles Bukowski than it does with Farrah Fawcett," said John Doe of punk band X, a friend of Manzarek's for more than 30 years, referring to the poet and 'Charlie's Angels' star, respectively. "It has more to do with Raymond Chandler and Nathaniel West, and 'Sunset Boulevard' the movie, than it does with 'Beach Blanket Bingo,' right? ... It's a real dark place out in LA."
Next to Morrison, Manzarek was the most distinctive-looking band member, his glasses and wavy blond hair making him resemble a young English professor more than a rock star, a contrast to Morrison's Dionysian glamour — his sensuous mouth and long, dark hair. Musically, Manzarek's spidery organ on "Light My Fire" is one of the most instantly recognizable sounds in rock history.