The Doors' co-founder and keyboardist Ray Manzarek died on Monday, May 20th in Rosenheim, Germany at the RoMed Clinic following a long battle with with bile duct cancer. He was 74. Manzarek was surrounded by his wife Dorothy and his brothers Rick and James Manczarek. Manzarek is survived by Dorothy, their son Pablo, his wife Sharmin, and their three children Noah, Apollo, and Camille. Funeral arrangements are pending. An official statement posted on TheDoors.com stated: "The family asks that their privacy be respected at this difficult time. In lieu of flowers, please make a memoriam donation in Ray Manzarek's name at www.standup2cancer.org."
Doors guitarist Robby Krieger said in a 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."
Doors drummer John Densmore said in a statement: "There was no keyboard player on the planet more appropriate to support Jim Morrison's words. Ray, I felt totally in sync with you musically. It was like we were of one mind, holding down the foundation for Robby and Jim to float on top of. I will miss my musical brother."
Ray Manzarek was born Raymond Daniel Manczarek, Jr. on February 12th, 1939 on the South Side of Chicago and was of Polish decent. In 1962 he moved to Southern California to study at the Department of Cinematography at UCLA, where he first met fellow student and future partner Jim Morrison, along with his wife of 45 years, Dorothy Fujikawa. Together with Morrison, Robby Krieger, and drummer John Densmore, the quartet formed the Doors in 1965 and between 1967 and 1971 released six studio albums -- The Doors (1967); Strange Days (1967); Waiting For The Sun (1968); The Soft Parade (1969); Morrison Hotel (1970); and L.A. Woman (1971) -- before Jim Morrison's death on July 3rd, 1971 in Paris.
Manzarek changed the face of rock keyboard playing, with his early signature sound being a combination of a Vox Continental organ -- and later a Gibson G-101 Kalamazoo combo organ -- with his left hand playing the basslines on a Fender Rhodes electric piano "bass unit," which featured only the keyboard's lowest notes. Although the Doors eventually added a studio bassist to their sessions, Manzarek handled the bass duties via his keyboards for the band's live appearances with Morrison.
Following Morrison's death, the Doors soldiered on with Manzarek and Krieger taking over vocal duties on the band's 1971 set, Other Voices, and its follow-up, 1972's Full Circle. Following that, Krieger and Densmore split to form the Butts Band. After a short-lived mid-'70s collaboration with Iggy Pop, Manzarek formed Nite City with future Blondie bassist Nigel Harrison, and produced and collaborated with the likes of Philip Glass, Echo & The Bunnymen, X, and poet Michael McClure, among many others.
In 1978 Manzarek, Krieger, and Densmore reunited to compose and record music to Morrison's poetry for the An American Prayer album. Manzarek collaborated frequently with Robby Krieger. In 2002 the pair began touring as the Doors Of The 21st Century, which went through various name changes -- including Riders On The Storm -- until the pair settled on Manzarek-Krieger or Ray Manzarek & Robby Krieger of The Doors, following a bitter five-year battle against John Densmore and the Morrison estate over the use of the band's name.
In 1998, Manzarek published his memoir, Light My Fire: My Life With The Doors. He followed the autobiography in 2001 with The Poet In Exile, which supposes what would've happened had Jim Morrison faked his death -- as many fans believe. In 2006 he published his second novel, the Civil War-based, Snake Moon.
The Doors' stats remain among the most impressive of the rock era, selling over 100 million albums worldwide, and receiving 19 Gold, 14 Platinum, and five multi-Platinum albums in the U.S. alone.
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